College suggestions for Biology - good merit

I’ve been doing plenty of reading on CC about colleges, but finally decided to post for some help. My rising senior is leaning towards Biology/Public health in some form. We can do up to $15,000 a year (for the right school) but are heavily relying on outside scholarships and merit aid. We are in the midwest. Ideally, she would like a medium size school (harder to do with the schools that offer the most merit, but I’ve read honors colleges make it seem smaller). She’d love to go to North Carolina, but it seems they really limit their OOS students.

Basic stats:
3.93 UW gpa
National College Board Recognition program
1 AP class ( all her school offers)
6 Dual enrollment college classes

Already considering:
Univ. Of Arizona
Univ of Wisconsin-Madison
Univ. Of Iowa
Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln
St Olaf
Wake Forest University
Case Western (may be a reach)
Univ. Of Alabama-Birmingham (but concerned about safety of area)

What is your state school? Are there any that give full tuition scholarships?

University of Minnesota. She would consider UM Duluth. UM Twin Cities is highly ranked, but she doesn’t like the area. No full scholarships for Duluth. She prefers to get out of MN.

It sounds like she needs a full tuition scholarship. Any test scores? Look at the U of New Mexico. I would not count on full tuition at Wake Forest- would you qualify for FA?

University of Arizona and Arizona State University have scholarships for “National Scholars” (= National Merit or College Board Recognition). You may want to check their web sites on the amounts of those scholarships relative to their out-of-state prices.

Will the in-state public universities in your state be affordable?

In state would be affordable. UW Madison has a tuition agreement with MN. Daughter prefers to go out of state. Arizona is at the top of my list right now (not necessarily hers, but she doesn’t really no where she wants to go). Does anyone know much about the Biology major/atmosphere at any of the schools I listed?

We should qualify for financial aid. Based on the financial calculators, we’d spend $12000- 15,000. That might be OK if she could get into Case, St Olaf or Wake Forest. But is it really worth it? From everything I’ve read here, it’s better to spend less on undergrad and pay for grad school.

If those schools came in at $15,000, would they be affordable? She needs to look at schools where she will be competitive for full tuition.

Many students want to go out of state, but sometimes they can’t. They need to do what is affordable. She is lucky to have an affordable option.


University of New Mexico has an automatic scholarship (Amigo) for her stats to bring OOS costs down to in-state prices.
The Amigo Scholarship also gives a $200/year ($100.semester) stipend

Instate UNM costs about $18K including tuition, fees. room & board. With a $5.5K student direct loan, UNM is within your price range.

Biology program is strong, with an emphasis on evolutionary biology. UNM also offers an undergrad degree in population (public) health.


You have a great list - AZ, ASU, you can add Arkansas, MS State, Florida State (you’ll get out of state tuition).

Would you qualify for need based aid? If so, why not apply to schools that meet aid or give good merit?

How about looking at off brand schools too - such as Ohio U or Southern Illinois. You may also try Alabama Huntsville instead of UAB. Or Missouri Science & Tech is another to look at. Truman State as well.

Good luck.

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Truman State is a nice, mid-sized school - Missouri’s public honors LAC. The OOS sticker price is around $26K/year. The MSEP reciprocity discount is around $4000 Truman State University | Midwest Student Exchange Program , and she’d get additional auto-merit based on GPA and test scores Freshman Automatic Scholarships - Truman State University which would almost certainly bring your COA down to the range you need. They have several tracks within their Health Science major, one of which is Public Health focused Community, Worksite & Public Health Concentration | Truman State University and of course there’s a bio major as well.


Thank you for the input. I’ll check out your suggestions.

Back to your $15K. Is that what you want to spend or two the financial aid calculators tell you that’s all you can afford.

Go on a top tier school like Cornell - enter your stats and see what your net price is.

If you can afford $75K but only want to pay $15K, then the chain above is valid. If you want to pay $15K and they agree you can only afford $15K, a whole new world opens up.

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I did the NPC and it was around $18,000. I’ve done the net price on a few other college sites and it’s ranged between $12,000- 17,000. My daughter is going to apply to a range of schools as far as affordability. We can look at the merit/financial packages and and see what makes the most sense. She’s not set on one specific school right now which helps. She does have some on her wishlist, but we’ll see what happens.

So these schools should be reviewed - they’re all high end so perhaps she’s not there due to the low ACT (although your school doesn’t offer many which helps) - these meet 100% of need. They’re all stretches except maybe Lehigh…but take a look.

Colgate University Aid is loan-free if your parents’ total income is less than $125,000.
Cornell University Aid is loan-free if your parents’ total income is less than $60,000 and total assets are less than $100,000.
Dartmouth College Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $100,000. Your family will not be expected to make any financial contribution.
Duke University Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $40,000. Your family will not be expected to make any financial contribution.
Haverford College Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $60,000. Families making more than this threshold can expect small loans ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 a year.
Lafayette College Aid is often loan-free if your parents earn less than $100,000.
Lehigh University Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $75,000. Loans are capped at $5,000 per academic year.
Rice University Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $130,000. Students whose parents make less than $65,000 will receive coverage for tuition, fees, room, and board, whereas those whose parents make between $65,001 and $130,000 will receive full coverage for tuition only.
Tufts University Aid is typically loan-free for students with total family incomes of less than $60,000. All other students qualifying for financial aid can expect to have a maximum of $7,000 in loans per year.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Low-income North Carolina students may qualify for aid without loans through the Carolina Covenant.
Vassar College Aid is loan-free for students from low-income families.
Washington University in St. Louis Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $75,000.
Wellesley College Aid is loan-free if your calculated family contribution is less than $7,000 and your parents earn less than $60,000. All other students qualifying for financial aid can expect to have a maximum of $15,200 in loans over four years.
Wesleyan University Aid is loan-free if your parents earn less than $60,000 with typical assets.
Williams College Aid is loan-free if parents earn less than $75,000 with typical assets. For everyone else, loans are capped at $4,000 per academic year.

Thanks! She got a 26 on ACT. She plans to retake it, but I don’t think it will get her score high enough for the top schools. Will probably apply to most schools without test scores. She did auto send her scores to Vandy and UNC Chapel Hill, but since it was lower than expected I think she’s given up on those.

Florida State offers an OOS waiver in state $6500 a year tuition, Arizona State and University of Alabama good merit. Private mid range schools with good merit Depaul, Loyola Chicago, Seton Hall, Marquette, SLU

If the school is offering test optional, it won’t matter if she sent them in. They won’t look at them in admissions if they go test optional and you ask your score not to be looked at.

I pointed those schools out at meeting 100% of need. Other schools meet much of need - some are need aware (meaning they’ll meet need - but that might factor into whether they even accept you.

The Florida State OOS waiver won’t work with a 26. Florida public schools, last year at least, were the only in the country to require a test score. It requires a 31.

btw - schools that are test optional, after you accept or admit, do require you to share a score if you took it just for statistical purposes. Chicago admitted a 20 - so with test optional, everyone has a chance!!!

Oh this is good to know (about test optional). Though, she probably won’t get into Vandy and UNC doesn’t take many from out of state, but still good to know. Thank you for the list though. Lots to think about.

That she won’t get in somewhere is fine. My daughter was turned down at unc OOS. Her friend got in. You don’t know if you don’t try. In my opinion, unless you are dead set on a safety…ie going there no matter what…you should get turned down somewhere, to ensure you reached high enough. So look to see who is TO. If they are and were last year, see how acceptance rates compared to those who submitted so that you can choose schools that devote a fair amount of spots to TO students. So I would not rule out Vandy and UNC if they are dream schools. Don’t forget with common app, it’s easy to apply to more schools. So add one or two if concerned. Get on schools email lists and you’ll be surprised at how many send you free applications.