Best New England business Mixed Incomes parents. B Student with 1400's SAT [MA resident, 3.09 GPA, 1420 SAT, business, <$30k, divorced parents]

Trying to find hidden matches for our unique family circumstances. Single parent caring for sibling with cancer. New England desired but California, DC, etc of interest, Ireland a stretch in terms of location desireability but financially attractive. Mom not familiar with schools beyond Massaschusetts and seeking tips.


  • US Citizen, Massachusetts Resident and also an Irish (EU Citizen)
  • Public High School
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity (optional): Male/White
  • Other special factors *(Sibling of Cancer Patient with special circumstances, low income mother due to child cancer needs/high income father, second generation to college):

Intended Major(s) Business (Marketing or Finance). Catholic Affiliation a nice to have.

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.09
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.6 out of 6.0
  • Class Rank: N/A
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1420

*(Takes 3 AP Classes per term in subjects like Languages, US History, psych, etc. (not in math/science), AP/IB scores were mixed with a 3 and a 4 of those that ranked.
Awards National Honor Society Member


  • Boy Scout leader, and awards, works part time
    Essays/LORs/Other Standard
    Unique circumstances have been his independence during his siblings cancer treatment and family demands/high resiliency

Cost Constraints / Budget
*Divorced parents. Custodial parent is low income, non custodial is high income.
Budget is around UMass Amherst price (mid 30’s) with some flexibility.

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety (certain admission and affordability) UMassDartmouth
  • Likely (would be possible, but very unlikely or surprising, for it not to admit or be affordable) UMassLowell, University of New Hampshire
  • Match Bryant, Bentley
  • Reach Babson, BC, UConn, UCSanDiego, Northeastern, Providence, UMassAmherst Isenberb Business School
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The low income may help or may not help - because most schools will require the other parent. Certainly the schools your student would be eligible for. Those that don’t - are high high end.

Not sure the weighting system - but a 3.09 and 1420.

UNH unlikely because at $56K - and Tuition Break doesn’t work for the majors if I selected right - just for directionals in Connecticut - Central, Eastern, Western.

U Maine has a flagship match but I can’t find the states - it might work.

U Mass Lowell and Dartmouth - yes.

UNH , Bryant and Bentley - I don’t see how you can afford.

Reach - not only can you not afford, you won’t get into any - except maybe PC - which you can’t afford.

You need schools like Western Carolina, Southern Illinois or your in state or the CT Regionals or U Maine.

Good luck

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Probably not most schools, but a large percentage of the “desired name” schools require both divorced parents’ finances for need-based financial aid. The second-to-last column in CSS Profile Participating Institutions and Programs can be a starting point to see which schools require that, although it should be checked on school financial aid web pages, because there are sometimes errors in this list, and some colleges require that but use forms other than CSS Profile. (Schools that use only FAFSA do not require non-custodial parent finances.)

However, many of the schools that only require the custodial parent finances are state schools that do not give much or any need-based financial aid to out-of-state students.

Also, note that the FAFSA definition of custodial parent will be changing to the parent who provides the most financial support, rather than the parent the student lives with most of the time.


Yes, I was referencing the privates. The publics, with that GPA and budget, are unlikely.

There are some publics - like W Carolina that I listed - that could work.

Thank you for the helpful replies. It’s a bit of a reality check. What do “directionals” mean?

When I talk to friends, they all encourage me to apply to private schools and say that they often end up costing less than the price of UMass Amherst. Are they leading me astray?

Perhaps they are assuming a much higher GPA and a significant merit component.

Bryant does not use the CSS Profile. Neither do UMASS (all campuses). UConn doesn’t either. Or UNH.

Bentley, Babson, BC, Northeastern do use the Profile.

The UCs give no need based aid to OOS students so the cost will be over $70,000 a year. I would say that UC San Diego probably needs to be removed from your list unless you can pay the full cost of attendance.

I believe MA is part of the flagship match for Maine…but you would need to check that.

Why? This student already has two very doable sure things on their list.


Some private colleges offer very good need based aid to accepted students. You have a couple of issues.

  1. Most of the privates in your list require the CSS Profile and also the non-custodial parent form. This means that the incomes of both of your parents will be considered by the colleges when they calculated awarding their institutional need based aid.

  2. The schools that guarantee to meet full need are highly competitive for admission. To get their wonderful need based aid, you would have to demonstrate you have need (and with the non-custodial income that could be hard) and you need to get accepted. Neither of these are a sure thing for some of the schools on your list.

But I will say…you have two sure things on your list. And that’s a good thing.

You might want to look at some of the SUNY schools. While they are in the $40,000’s for OOS students, maybe one would work. I don’t know enough about their merit aid for OOS students to comment…but perhaps someone else will.


I am helping a niece with her search and she is chasing merit/lower cost schools. Based on your recommendation I took a look at Western Carolina. The school is a state school with about 11,000 undergrads, all the typical majors of a state school, an honors college and a pretty campus in the mountains of western North Carolina. The crazy thing was that for an OOS student the cost of tuition room and board was about 20K all in. Just a huge value play IMHO.

Unfortunately for my bother she was not interested. However she did look at and is applying to Coastal Carolina and UNC Wilmington which with merit will get her to in state Pitt and PSU range.


You asked why I suggested other schools? This is why.

OP - a directional - for lack of a better word - has a “direction” in it and isn’t the main school - so Southern Illinois vs. U of Illinois. Central Connecticut State vs. U of Connecticut. Western Michigan vs. Michigan.

While it’s not directional, it’s not unsimilar - a UMASS Lowell or Dartmouth.

OP - Can private colleges be less than public - yes, sometimes based on need or merit - but far less likely with a lower GPA like yours - as your student is less likely to be admitted to a high end college and it’s typically the higher end college that have the $$ to fund this. There are private colleges today with lower sticker prices - meaning you don’t need aid to get a lower price - but I don’t think less than $30K all in - except maybe a school like Berea in Kentucky which doesn’t charge tuition, or some HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities - if interested.

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How much of the student’s expenses does each parent contribute to? I believe that the new FAFSA is based not on custodial but on which parent provides more financial support.


Non flagship state universities that are named for directions in some states like Eastern Connecticut, Western Washington, South Florida, Northern Michigan.

NC State schools limit OOS attendance to something like 18% - so while the NC schools might look like a great match based metrics, etc they can be very challenging to get into OOS.

You might be interested in the following which is a new program/school at BC:

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The non-custodial parent’s income will be taken into account at most schools, which means that the child may receive zero fin aid. So look to stay within budget; in fact, look for an option which would allow the child to get their degree without any money from the non-custodial parent, if unfortunately that were to happen. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Your child’s absolute best bet is to start at your local community college that has a transfer agreement with Isenberg. They should do as much CLEP credit and AP credit and dual enrollment credit as possible so that they receive a ton of credit before they even start. They should plan on starting community college next summer (even though the beginning of the summer term will overlap with the last month of school, but they’ll already have taken their AP exams), with a maxxed out course load for every semester. They should get two semesters of straight A grades (easy to do in community college), and apply for transfer to enter Isenberg as a junior in Sept '24. This way, they only have 3-4 semesters of community college plus four semesters of UMass to pay for, and only 4 semesters of room and board to cover.

Child might qualify for a Pell grant IF you are not receiving substantial aid from non-custodial parent. Child can count on at least being allowed to take out 27K in unsubsidized federal loans, no matter what, based on a FAFSA filled out only by you, if other parent refuses. Between that and working full time in summer, and part time in school year, they can cover the cost of this path even if non-custodial parent provides not a single penny. Plus it offers them a path into Isenberg, an excellent school and an excellent value, which they might not get into as a freshman.

I would have child apply to Isenberg, and if they don’t get in, do the community college to Isenberg route, maneuvering it so that child spends only one year at community college. This is cheaper than their starting at a public 4 yr near you. I am afraid that all of the other options may lead to the child winding up not even starting, let alone completing, their degree to finances. I cannot tell you how many kids from divorced families, and even intact families, wind up not being able to complete their degrees due to a failure to plan for a safe, sure financial path to their degree, that is not dependent upon the non-custodial parent pulling back on financial support.

Any of the options you’ve listed other than UMasses Dartmouth, Lowell, and Amherst are likely to be too expensive, and frankly, may be unaffordable unless within commuting distance to live at home for all 4 yrs. Plus UMass Amherst is a reach. I’d say that the tradeoff of one year at community college in the hopes of two years (or even three, if non-custodial parent contributes substantially)and an isenberg degree is well worth it.


@kelsmom is child support being reported on the simplified fafsa that is rolling out this year?

Yes. It’s a question that is answered for the last complete calendar year. And if the amount of child support received indicates that the support payments are more than the amount parent completing the FAFSA earns, the parent who paid the child support should actually be the FAFSA parent.


Thanks for this. I also was wrong about my son’s grades. It looks like he is an A/B student not a B student . So maybe he has a better chance at some schools.

This is the first time I’ve seen an explanation of how to define fafsa 2023-2024 income and exactly what criteria they look at to determine “who contributes the most” for new fafsa rules. I was really confused about the child support piece and how that gets counted and or credited to custodial vs non custodial parent.

In my case, for 2022 I was still employed and my income was slightly higher than the amount of child support paid by the father. So that sounds like I will be the one completing FASFA for 2023-2024.
That could be good news for freshman year one… But after that, the Father is going to be the one contributing the most due to child support since my income dropped and then we’re heading to trouble potentially… because of the father filling out FAFSA when my son is a sophomore, in 2025 my son is unlikely to qualify for the same aid (if any) as freshman year.

My income has gone down dramatically since then I lost my job in 2022and I’m now collecting disability and on Medicaid in 2023 calendar year.

The problem will be for 2023 tax return and beyond, the noncustodial parent amount of child support paid will be higher than my income so it’s going to flip to father completing fafsa when my son is a sophomore.

The father is a high earner but will not contribute one penny beyond the 1/3 for cost of state school that he has agreed to previously. He is also likely to drag his feet and not complete the financial aid forms.

So, my son could potentially lose aid sophomore year in college. I’m concerned based on the fact that we both own houses that the CSS profile will not allow us to qualify for much school based aid.

How will that impact his aid going forward? Would I be setting my son up for failure if he gets aid as a freshman through FASFA and could be in trouble by sophomore year in terms of affordability?

I do have assets and own a home but because I am on Medicaid/poverty level income in 2023 with 3 (however, when including child support I am not in the poverty level). I don’t believe my assets will be weighing heavily and his freshman year because of Medicaid. His father’s assets are less than mine, but his income is much higher higher. (but he has a significant child support to the children.)

Because I am older and disabled, my ability to work in the future to save more money beyond what I already have in the 529 for college for my three kids is not looking rosie so I don’t want to spend my savings on college I need to live on. /cover medical expenses etc

I’m confused. In your OP you said you were caring for a “sibling” who has cancer. (Is this the student’s sibling or your sibling). Now you say you are older and disabled.

I understand that regardless…cost is a factor in your college search.

Plus this sounds like you are the oarent but some of your posts sound like you are the student. Which is it.

I think you might be best served to look at colleges where merit aid is a possibility, but it’s not likely you will find them in New England.

I will suggest checking out York College in Pennsylvania. It is possible this could be affordable for your family after merit aid.

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I’m sorry for my confusing post! I am the parent who is currently disabled, 3 kids, single parent and unemployed currently due to all of these challenges. I am on newly on Medicaid (health insurance coverage) because of my current low earnings :frowning: and loss of health insurance in 2022 when I lost my job.

Prior to going on Medicaid for my own health insurance this year I had extraordinary medical expenses for myself over the past 2 years.
I am also caring for one of my children who has active cancer treatment.

My children DO receive child support from their high earning father.
I do have some savings for the children for a state school in a 529. So all is not lost. :pray:

My child who is off to college in 2024 is not disabled it is his sibling who is a cancer patient.

Yes, finances are an issue as I realize they are for many people.

You have a lot on your plate.

Are the UMass campuses (other than Amherst) affordable for your family?

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