Actual Results with Net Cost—Suburban NY, WF, CS, 1550+, 4.0 UW

Here are my ‘23 kid’s results with the COA to us, with the caveat that there were certain limited, selective institutional scholarships that she may or may not have gotten.

My daughter got into her first choice, early action, so she did not continue with regular decision or pursue selective scholarships at the schools she had already gotten into early action.

First, here are a few things we learned either from this Facebook group and other groups or from experience.

  1. Apply to at least one rolling school that releases decisions early.
  2. If a school says that it considers demonstrated interest, and you do not demonstrate interest, do not be surprised if you end up waitlisted or rejected.
  3. If you apply EA to a school that has 2 ED rounds, do not be surprised if you are deferred.
  4. Colleges have their own priorities. That doesn’t mean it is rigged or unfair or someone else got your kid’s spot. Any given kid could have different results in a different year. Be enthusiastic and authentic and have a balanced list…and visit (if possible) and show some love to those targets/likelies. This way, the kid hopefully has at least one option they like.
  5. People often assume they will not get need-based financial aid. Do not assume. Run the NPC. They are not always accurate, but they usually give you a ballpark if your info you input is accurate. Sometimes an expensive, 100% meets needs, high-endowment university is the cheapest, even if you are middle class…if you can get in.
  6. Most of the time, your in-state (or consortium), non-flagship public is your cheapest option, followed by your in-state flagship or an OOS that has in-state tuition matching. Small private colleges that are not as well known also sometimes offer great value.
  7. The pickier you are, the more you can expect to pay (if you truly are not getting need-based aid). If you want a highly ranked university (and I am not even talking T25, more like ~T100), in a nice city, with a decent campus, in the Northeast, that offers tons of merit, you are hunting for a unicorn. There are some of these schools that have a handful of full tuition scholarships, but you cannot rely on getting these.
  8. Application burnout is real. Start as early as possible, and try to prioritize the ones you care about most, even if you hold off on actually submitting until closer to the deadline. And watch out for “hidden essays” if you are submitting a portfolio.
  9. We had a hard time balancing the “there are no real safeties for a highly impacted major” with the above “application burnout.” In hindsight, my kid may have overapplied, but we really were not sure where she would get in and where she would get merit.
  10. Even if you get into your top choice EA and can afford it, submit 1-3 more RD apps. While I am 99.9% sure the result would have been the same, in retrospect my kid feels like she would have liked to have explored at least one more option… even though she was admitted to her top choice that she had visited multiple times.
  11. If you are receiving significant need-based aid from the university, chances are it will absorb outside scholarships. You need to check with each school to see if scholarships will stack or if you can at least use the scholarships for the student contribution or books or a computer purchase.

Basic demographics: White female; middle class; suburban NY; typical, average suburban public school

Planned major: computer science

4.0 UW, 4.52 W (estimated as school uses a 100 pt scale, not a 4.0), all honors or AP where possible; 2/198 (but only knew “top decile” when applying)

APs (All 5’s): CS A, Bio, WH, Calc BC, Physics 1, US, Lang and Comp; this year enrolled in Chem, Psych, Lit, Gov

Also took Multivariable Calc and Linear Algebra online, with As in each

SAT: 1590 (800 M, 790 V)


Good (but not mind-blowing) ECs in STEM and music (e.g. “Programming Captain of FRC Team”), volunteer service (including what you would call a “passion project”) and essays; some awards; two summer research programs (one very well-known); NO sports at all

I am intentionally not getting too specific about the ECs because an exact clone of my kid might have completely different results in another year. There is no replicable formula.

Accepted (COA is our Net Cost—several of these had additional scholarships or NMF that she did not pursue):


  • Stony Brook, In-State, WISE honors program; initial -$3K Merit. COA = <$25K? (Unsure because WISE, NMF, and valedictorian/salutatorian scholarships may have reduced price but unclear by how much; website is vague on the details.)

  • Binghamton, In-State, EA, Invited to FRI (First Year Research Immersion) + Scholars program with one-time research stipend of $3500. COA = ~$28K

  • RPI, EA, -$42K Merit. COA = $35K

  • UMASS Amherst, OOS, EA, honors, -$16K Merit; COA = $38K (invitation to apply for an additional $10K a year for women in STEM but did not pursue)

  • Drexel, EA, -$36K (22K scholarship + 14K Need-Based Grant), COA = $39K (did not pursue honors or additional scholarships)

  • Northeastern, EA - Honors with Global Experience Stipend; $25.5K Merit (may have been bumped up to $28K for NMF?); never got need-based offer despite multiple phone calls so COA = as high as $56K but likely would have been lower. Our NPC said $38K…but who knows?

  • UMD, OOS, EA, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) Honors College, -$12K Merit. COA = $43K

  • UPitt, Rolling, OOS, GAP, Honors, -$15K merit. COA = $43K

  • WPI, EA -$27.5 K (25K Merit + 2.5 K Grant). COA = $49K (did not pursue limited additional scholarships)


U Chicago, EA, withdrew application


BU, RD (but met their scholarship earlier deadline), declined place on waitlist

Planned to Apply but did not:

Harvard RD

Princeton RD

Yale RD

Carnegie Mellon RD

Brown RD

Harvey Mudd RD

Stanford RD


Shows you how zany admissions is. Going to arguably the top college in the country and WL at BU.

You can only go to one and it’s clearly the one you wanted.

Fantastic for your student and best of luck.


To be fair, she canceled her scheduled tour at BU, did not demonstrate interest (she would have if she hadn’t gotten into MIT), and did add MIT ‘27 to her social media :rofl:

But BU is very selective and has its own institutional priorities…so who knows?


Congrats to your daughter! Just curious, what household income and assets led to essentially 60k need based aid at MIT, with COA of 20k? That is pretty amazing fin aid, if you are a middle class family.


We are about ~$200K. But, high COLA, 4 kids, etc. FYI, we ran the detailed NPC which gave us $27K. We think the lower cost was due to my kid being young and just starting working this year which made her student contribution $0 (when it could be up to $5K in subsequent years) and MIT just made its aid more generous this year. They pride themselves on students graduating with little to no debt and re-paying it quickly if they do take out loans.


I just ran the NPC for MIT and they are very generous. You can play around with inputs to see what increases/decreases aid.


BU is one of those schools that puts a lot of emphasis on demonstrated interest. Several cycles ago, DS was waitlisted by BU even though the Naviance scattergram indicated that his GPA and ACT score were higher than all of the students from his HS who had gotten into BU during the preceding three years (if memory serves, it was something like 30 kids). Needless to say, DS didn’t show much demonstrated interest in BU during the application process.

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That is incredible. We are about same, but the income is from a rental business, so there are assets, but of course if we sell those assets to pay tuition, then we have no income… after kid is graduated. Sort of like a farmer who owns his land. Reputedly most extremely generous tippy top gave us not one red cent.

So she got into her favorite school, which also ended up beating all others on price.

You cannot do better than that. (well… free ride… but MIT doesn’t do merit. So under the circumstances, that’s as good as it could get)


I suspect Stony Brook would have ended up lower…but they aren’t transparent about their scholarship amounts and if they stack.

But yes, it is a very good feeling. We are extremely happy for her and proud of her hard work and character.


Boston University says that “level of applicant’s interest” is “considered”. This typically means that the school does not want to be a lower choice for an applicant who is likely to get admitted to more selective schools that are likely preferred by applicants (i.e. such applicants, if admitted, are very unlikely to matriculate).

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Yes there are many components of college admission. But it’s still zany that if MIT takes someone, anyone else short if a few schools doesn’t.

I understand the many nuances but it’s still zany…to me.

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Ever hear of “yield protection” on these forums?

Colleges generally know that better qualified admits tend to have lower yield probability, since they more likely have other choices of colleges (often more selective ones that students tend to prefer) and more likely have better scholarship offers. While some colleges are (for example) willing to admit 100 “overqualified” applicants with the expectation (from prior year results) of 1 matriculation (yield rate of 1% for that subset of admits), other colleges want their yield rates to be high, so they will waitlist most of those applicants other than those who show enough additional interest to convince the college that the college is one of their top choices (the strongest way to do is to apply binding early decision).


Here’s to you @Nemesis_Artemis for helping your child navigate this crazy process and wind up with a favorable outcome. Sounds like you’ve got a great, hard-working kid and your DC sounds like they had calm, measured parental guidance throughout the journey. THAT’S the replicable formula. Bravo to all of you. Now go enjoy the spring & (a little bit of) the summer! :slight_smile:


Yes I get it.

It’s still zany.

You have your opinion. I have mine.

It’s MIT vs BU.

BU has a 31% yield which is respectable. But it’s not like they are nailing it.

But to me it’s still zany. I know the nuances but I’m still entitled to my opinion.


This is actually a change. BU’s CDS from a couple years ago states that level of interest is “important.” In any event, it doesn’t surprise me that OP’s kid got waitlisted at BU notwithstanding her excellent qualifications. I’m surprised that Northeastern, which is also known for its yield protection, didn’t do the same thing.

We were, too. She did do an official visit at NU. And I know NU is focused on a goal of reaching 50/50 gender representation in CS. So, that may be why they took a chance on her.

Thank you for your generosity in sharing details. Would you be willing to share recommended sources for multivariable and linear calculus online. One of my kids will need both and the school won’t support.

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If a school had the creme de la creme of students and yours is (judging by MIT admission), they have mechanisms to try and acquire that student. Namely money.

Someone who applies EA vs ED often is doing so for financial reasons.

A fantastic result and a well thought out approach. Congratulations!

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