Early Decision & Financial Aid

<p>My son is just back from the 2006 APEA summer PreCollege program at CMU, where he took 21-127 Concepts of Mathematics (Mackey) and 18-100 Intro to ECE (Sullivan). Earning As in both courses & getting the highest grade on the math exam, we're being urged to apply Early Decision to CMU with the promise of strong recommendations.</p>

<p>However, I'm guessing our EFC is $8500 and am very unclear what the bill for CMU would end up being. I could imagine from what I've heard that we'd be stuck with bills and loans totaling $100K. With a free ride at the University of TN & the chance to intern at Oak Ridge National Labs & a desire to go to grad school (at CMU?) one day, it's a hard decision because of the potential bill. Anyway, how do you commit to Early Decision without really knowing what the bill will be?</p>

<p>Please help me!</p>

<p>You have an estimate of your EFC, which is a good starting point. You might want to call CMU's financial aid office and see if they can tell you anything more about how much aid you will receive. I think that CMU guarantees meeting full need if you apply early, but it may be met with loans. Unless you can get a good answer from CMU about what the makeup of your financial aid package will probably be, it probably is best to apply regular decision. Since your son did so well at APEA, he's obviously a strong candidate (many ECE and CS majors that take 21-127 and 18-100 as freshmen don't get As), so he probably doesn't need the slight advantage one probably gets from applying early. You also might want to consider having him apply to 'peer institutions' and other highly ranked schools that are known to be more generous with aid. CMU has a process for merit aid appeals, but you have to have an offer from another private school. Nothing is guaranteed, but I did get some merit money on appeal.</p>

<p>As far as grad school finances, if he's considering pursuing a PhD, there are tons of fellowships that cover tuition and supply a living stipend. Most cover a maximum of 3 years, but there are many out there. In some cases, there is funding available through the school by TAing or simply from the thesis advisors. At CMU, all computer science PhD students automatically receive a decently sized stipend and don't have to pay tuition (I came across this somewhere on their website). I imagine that other top grad schools may have similar policies. As far as other graduate degrees, he may be in a position where his employer will for some or all of the degree.</p>