"Decent" schools offering the most merit/grants?

<p>I need some help. I've read almost the entire "Best schools with most merit aid thread". Since no one has posted on that thread since May (I think it's getting lost without sticky). I thought I'd start a new thread.</p>

<p>My D is a going to be a senior in HS this year. She has already taken the ACT twice and got a 31 the first time and a 32 the second time. Her GPA at the end of junior year was a 3.75. This year she will have 4 AP classes (all that's offered at her HS - no honors or IB), so I do believe her GPA will end up being slightly higher, mid-term. She is also a member of the national honor society, has some good community service volunteer work and just started a part time job. My H and I aren't wealthy and already have one son in college. I did an estimated EFC using the calculator on this site and with both in college it estimated only $4,000. Neither my H or I have completed college, does this mean she's actually 1st generation? </p>

<p>So, based on that information, can anyone tell me what her best options might be? She'd really like a smaller school near a larger city, preferably in the Midwest so she can drive home over breaks. LAC would be great or maybe a Master's university. However, given costs, she'd consider anything that would give her the most $$. She loved Butler's campus (visited last week) and we are meeting with them next week, but is this really even feasible - any private school for that matter?</p>

<p>Check out Beloit, Otterbein, Denison. They are LACs that might offer merit aid to your daughter too. They are in the midwest but hmmm proximity to a city? Well....not sure.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Neither my H or I have completed college, does this mean she's actually 1st generation?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Colleges each have their own definition of first gen, some consider you first gen if your parents never got a college degree, others if your parents never attended college at all. On college applications they ask where your parents attended a college, when and what degree, if any, was earned. So you provide the information and the school decides of your D fits their definition of first gen.</p>

<p>If you think your EFC will be about $4K, why focus on merit aid? Why not focus instead on schools with the most generous need-based that are likely to admit applicants with your daughter's qualifications? I suppose that would be private universities and LACs ranked by US News in about the 25-75 range. Among Midwestern LACs: Beloit, Centre College, Earlham, Kalamazoo, Lawrence, etc.</p>

<p>Since you have an EFC of $4k, then your child would have "big need". </p>

<p>That means that your child needs to carefully apply to right schools otherwise you'll end up with a big unaffordable uncovered gap.</p>

<p>Many, many schools do NOT meet need, so a school that costs $52k per year may give your D $20,000 per year in grants, but then leave $32,000 per year uncovered.</p>

<p>Be very wary when speaking to colleges. They can sometimes be overly optimistic about affordability because they want you to apply. Their job is to get applications. *Ask if they meet "full need" without big loans. *</p>

<p>For instance...Butler has a Cost of Attendance of $44k per year. </p>

<p>It looks like it's a FAFSA-only school. Those typically do NOT meet need. Again, they may give your D a scholarship of $20k per year, a student loan of $5500, a small Pell & other fed Grants, and work-study of $2,500. Say that the aid adds up to $30,000. Add your $4k EFC and that comes to $32,000. That could still leave you with a gap of $14k per year (not counting your $4k EFC contribution).</p>

<p>Keep in mind that EFC is not all you have to pay. All EFC does is tell a school how much federal aid you qualify for. Schools are NOT obligated to look at EFC and come up with the difference. </p>

<p>Being "first generation" will vary by school and may not mean much financial-wise. </p>

<p>She should consider Mt Holyoke...very good with aid. And, include some of the schools from TK's list. However, since nothing is assured, your D needs to have some financial safety schools. You don't want a pile of acceptances with unaffordable FA packages. </p>

<p>Also, your D's stats are high enough for some big merit scholarships from some schools. Apply to a couple of schools that will give assured big merit scholarships for her stats. A big scholarship (such as full tuition plus), a small student loan, work-study, and your EFC could likely pay for a college that gives a big scholarship. </p>

<p>Here is a link to schools that will give your D assured scholarships for her stats...
<a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/848226-important-links-automatic-guaranteed-merit-scholarships.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/848226-important-links-automatic-guaranteed-merit-scholarships.html&lt;/a> </p>

<p>What did your D get on her PSAT? Is she a likely NMSF?</p>

<p>BTW.....</p>

<p>When you did the online EFC calculator, did you use Adjusted Gross Income or "net income" (after tax income)? You need to use AGI income. Some people mistakenly use their "take home" income. </p>

<p>If you and your husband's combined AGI income is about 58k (with minimum assets), then you'd have about a $4k EFC for each child. Does that sound right?</p>

<p>OK - I think I may have did what you said and put in the wrong income. I used "taxable" income number off my 1040, since it said "taxable income" not "adjusted gross income". I wondered about that, as I already fill out the FAFSA for my son in college, and they always ask for adjusted gross income. I'll go back and re-figure. They should fixed that.</p>

<p>I don't know what her PSAT was and she MISSED the NMSF, because her counselor at school told her that it was optional and she didn't need to take it. By the time I figured out she didn't take it, it was too late. Unless some of you know otherwise?</p>

<p>I don't know what her PSAT was and she MISSED the NMSF, because her counselor at school told her that it was optional and she didn't need to take it</p>

<p>I think you've misunderstood. If she took the PSAT, that is what counts. There is no NMSF exam. Don't have any idea of what your GC was talking about. NMSF is announced in Sept of senior year.</p>

<p>What was her PSAT?</p>

<p>*I used "taxable" income number off my 1040, since it said "taxable income" not "adjusted gross income". *</p>

<p>I thought you may have made that mistake. Go back and put in AGI. Don't use taxable income. And, if your family makes any 401k contributions, then the yearly contribution needs to be added back in.</p>

<p>Each child's EFC is going to rise. </p>

<p>What was your EFC on your son's SAR? That was based on 2009 AGI and your assets. If your 2010 income and assets stay the same and your kids don't have much income/assets, then your son's EFC will likely split in two.</p>

<p>However, for CSS Profile schools, the family contribution often doesn't split in half.</p>

<p>What general area of Michigan are you in, momof2?</p>

<p>

It's a wonder anyone gets anything. </p>

<p>FASFA FORM 2011: Please count all change from your couch cushions and enter amount on line 2.
Please enter on line 7 the number of crusts of bread in the bottom of bread drawer. If any of them resemble Jesus, multiply the number on line 7 by 100.
Go to your child's school and find any pennies in the parking lot. Send them to us.</p>

<p>ok - now the EFC comes out to $15000 with two students in school. However, our EFC this year for just having one in school was $17000, so something isn't right, I think? </p>

<p>I'm in SW lower MI. :)</p>

<p>OK - she said it was the PSAT that she didn't take. Sorry, I didn't get what she was telling me. This must be the common thing to tell the students at our high school, because my son told me they said the same thing to him. Our HS is actually a great school with high rankings. My kids must just have a dense counselor.</p>

<p>sylvan - that is very funny, but I feel like it's not real off-base!</p>

<p>mom2 - thanks for the link to the automatic scholarships! Hmm, maybe down south wouldn't be so bad :)</p>

<p>*ok - now the EFC comes out to $15000 with two students in school. However, our EFC this year for just having one in school was $17000, so something isn't right, I think? *</p>

<p>Each child has his own EFC, so you do it twice, and you put that you have 2 in college. The reason that you have to do it twice is because each student may have some of his own assets/income/savings.</p>

<p>It does sound like something isn't right, unless your children have their own savings, college money, income, or something.</p>

<p>For FAFSA EFC it usually works something like this for 1 kid with little/no assets/income</p>

<p>EFC for child #1 = $20k (indicate that only one child is in college)</p>

<p>**
Then, when second child is added in and FAFSA **is done twice, ithe first SAR should indicate that the EFC for child #1 = $10k and the other SAR should say that the EFC for child #2 is $10k (for a total of $20k)</p>

<p>However, if one or both kids has assets/savings/income, the EFCs will not match (they won't be split in half).</p>

<p>BTW...your GC made a big mistake not having your D take the PSAT. She could have been a NMSF. Hopefully someone will tell your principal/GC that that needs to change for future kids.</p>

<p>thanks for the link to the automatic scholarships! Hmm, maybe down south wouldn't be so bad</p>

<p>I have two kids with big scholarships at a southern school and they love it. :)</p>

<p>I think we have now established - I'm an idiot! I did only put in one student, because I only have one in college - now! dah. So, now I'm at $8700 EFC. Does that mean we will be eligible for need-based aid in the form of grants, or just loans from most schools?</p>

<p>Yes, my d and I are not happy with GC. D said that the GC made it really sound like it wasn't a big deal to take it or not take it and kept using the term "optional". Well all the test are technically optional! I think the GC/school should have sent something home to the parents explaining that all students really should take the PSAT and consider it just as important as the ACT/SAT.</p>

<p>Thank you very much for your help! I think she's going to apply to all the guaranteed schools. </p>

<p>If anyone else knows of LACs that offer great merit scholarships, maybe not published or guaranteed, please give me all the suggestions you have. She'd still like to try for a smaller school of 10000 or less.</p>

<p>So, now I'm at $8700 EFC. Does that mean we will be eligible for need-based aid in the form of grants, or just loans from most schools?</p>

<p>No, this doesn't mean that you'll get grants from most schools. Most schools do not have much money to give. Many schools only have the grants that the gov't provides and your EFCs are too high for those.</p>

<p>Most schools cannot meet need. That's just a sad fact. That's why EFC is rather meaningless except if the number is low enough to qualify for gov't grants. However, even those don't cover all or most of the cost of college. </p>

<p>So, for most schools you would get loans for aid. </p>

<p>At top schools that meet 100% of need (like Ivies, Stanford) you would get a lot of grants. However, schools that give the best aid, don't rely on FAFSA to determine need, they use CSS Profile and consider other things as well....some consider home equity, value of cars, etc. So, a student with a FAFSA EFC of $10k, may have a CSS Profile family contribution of $15k or more. You never know...each CSS school has their own formula. </p>

<p>There are some schools that give some grants, but you could still have a big gap. For instance, at a school that costs $55k per year, you could be given $25k in school grants and scholarships, a $5500 student loan, $2500 in work-study, and after paying your $9k contribution, still have an $13k gap that would need to get covered somehow - like with a Parent Plus loan. </p>

<p>So, in such a scenario, your family would be responsible for your $9k EFC, and the $13k gap ($22k total)....and your D would be responsible for the $5500 in student loan and $2500 in work study for the year. And, since college costs go up each year, that gap could rise. </p>

<p>ACT 32 .... GPA 3.75...... EFC 8700</p>

<p>Since your D has a good amount of "need" and very good, but not "ivy stats," she'll need to carefully come up with a list of schools that won't leave you with big loans or gaps. </p>

<p>Her Reach Schools should be schools that you know for sure meet 100% of need with small or no loans. She might consider Vandy or a similar type of school.</p>

<p>Her Financial Match schools may have to be schools that might give a lot of aid (there aren't many of those) or have some BIG competitive scholarships that she might win. Since it's unknown what these schools will give you money-wise, you need a few good financial safeties. </p>

<p>UMich might be a financial match if your D might get enough funding through scholarships, a student loan, work-study, and your EFC. </p>

<p>Her financial safeties would likely be schools that you KNOW for SURE that you can afford because you could pay all costs or because your D is ASSURED that she would get big scholarships for her stats and with work-study, a student loan, and your EFC all costs would get covered. Your D should apply to at least 2-3 financial safety schools. That way if none of the other schools work out financially, she'll still have a few affordable choices. </p>

<p>And, of course, when your older son graduates, your D's EFC will double or go higher depending on your income at the time. </p>

<p>Is your D interested in any Women only colleges? Schools like Smith and Mt Holyoke are good with money.</p>

<p>I'm not sure what Michigan's policies are for aid. I know for low income students the state gives aid, but I don't know what they do for the middle class that has some need. Do you know?</p>

<p>What is your D's likely major and career? What does she want in a college?</p>

<p>She's not positive on her major, but leaning nursing. Michigan doesn't do anything with need and in fact dropped their grant program last year based on merit. Michigan is struggling economically (big time) so the decided it was a good choice to cut education. Sorry, do mean to get on a political discussion.</p>

<p>She doesn't like large schools, because she likes a walking campus. However, I think she is mostly looking for the most grants/scholarships, but would still like a good education. She is very in-tune with graduating with the least debt possible. </p>

<p>Do you know much about Otterbein? It looks like it has a good nursing program and decent school.</p>

<p>I'm in the process of writing down all the automatic merit based full tuition+ schools for her, however, I'd like her throw out a few apps the LAC that might surprise her with a good offer. I guess those would be the "match" schools. How many apps is too many?</p>

<p>I don't know about Otterbein, but probably some here do.</p>

<p>Your D shouldn't dismiss all large colleges because many are laid out well and are still very walkable. My kids' campus is "large,' but they walk it because it's very organized...classroom buildings clustered together, with dorms surrounding the campus. </p>

<p>If she does pursue nursing, she may find herself a bit away from a campus for her last two years during clinicals. Some schools have their nursing schools across/near their medical center - which is sometimes a bit off campus or off to the side of a campus..</p>

<p>Since money is an issue...with your D's stats...this is what I'd do...</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Apply to 2-4 reach schools that meet need.</p></li>
<li><p>Apply to 2-4 financial match schools</p></li>
<li><p>Apply to 3-4 financial safety schools. When money is an issue, and the students stats are very good, but not "ivy," I always like applying to several financial safety schools so the student still has some choices in case the other schools don't work out. I don't like the situation where the child ends up with one financial safety and feels railroaded into going there. Choice is good for the morale.. </p></li>
</ol>

<p>The trick is that the student needs to like the schools that she applies to. There's no point in applying to a school that she surely will hate and not attend. </p>

<p>However, encourage her to have an open mind and explore all options since she has some great opportunities with her stats.</p>

<p>...</p>

<p>What about University of Detroit Mercy? They admit directly to the nursing program, which was important to my niece when she enrolled (at University of San Fran, also Jesuit). If you don't admit directly to nursing, there is no guarantee you will get in later. Of course, she was more definite about her major than OP's D seems to be?</p>

<p>If you don't admit directly to nursing, there is no guarantee you will get in later.</p>

<p>True...but if a student doesn't really have the stats to get into the nursing program, should the student be in one? I like it when schools don't have "direct admit". Nursing is a serious career and don't we want to weed out those who can't get the grades?</p>

<p>If the OP's D decides to go into nursing, then she certainly has what it takes to get admitted later on. I doubt many students with her stats can't get the grades and get accepted into an RN program. </p>

<p>That said, UD-Mercy (or any Jesuit school) is a good choice as long as it's financially feasible. What scholarships would the OP's D likely get or assuredly get? Most Jesuit schools do not meet need, so I would be concerned that the family would end up with a big gap.</p>

<p>For need based aid you might want to check out some on this list: Project</a> on Student Debt: What's the Bottom Line?</p>