Chance me Harvard ‘27!

If your family wouldn’t qualify for fin aid (makes over 160K/yr, approximately), but is unprepared to pay over 80K/yr for you, then you need to be thinking about your flagship state U and about chasing merit money, which means schools that are not Ivy or little Ivy.

What would you and your family do if you by some miracle were accepted to Harvard or some other equally prestigious school that offers no merit money? Seriously, are your parents ready to borrow about 300K on your behalf (while you borrow an additional 27K) for this? Do you have younger sibs that they need to pay for? Do they have such high assets that 300K is nothing to them?

Sit down with your family and have a very frank discussion about finances, what they can reasonably contribute towards your education. Then focus on schools that are located in state capitals (for access to state political and government offices) that will give you a lot of merit money (bringing your cost down to what your cost would be at your flagship state U).

It’s fantastic that you are first in your high school class. It’s also wonderful that you’ve compiled such a great list of ECs. Unfortunately, what would have gotten you full tuition waiver or even a full ride at some southern/southwestern flagships would have been that plus National Merit and/or a stellar standardized test score. This doesn’t mean that you might not qualify for very substantial merit money at out of state flagships and 3rd tier private schools, or some merit at your in-state flagship. But unless someone is able to pay the full tuition that a top tier private would likely require of you, you’ve got to make financially feasible options.

This site may help you in your greater search for suitable colleges: