Explore USC Worth It for Presidential Scholar?

<p>Hi guys,</p>

<p>I was just wondering if attending Explore USC and spending $150 on plane tickets (I live in NorCal) and missing two days (or more) of school is worth it for the chance to get a Presidential Scholarship. </p>

<p>I am wondering this because the Presidential Scholarship only covers half of my tuition - so around 22k/year. Will it be affordable for me to go, in the case that I receive a Presidential Scholarship, if my family's EFC is ~$1000? I know the total cost of attending USC yearly is around $50,000.</p>

<p>Will USC be able to cover my need with grants instead or will they only be able to give me tens of thousands in loans?</p>

<p>And would you guys recommend flying in the night before, so I can get a good night's rest?</p>

<p>Thank you for your guys' time!</p>

<p>My daughter flew down that morning and stayed overnight. If you have any idea that you really might go to USC, you should really do the explore. Who knows, you might get bumped up to Trustee!</p>

<p>What are your other choices where you will get more money?</p>

<p>With an EFC that low, you really should take the process to the end. If it happens that you need to take on more debt than other places, then you can consider other choices but it is too early for you to assume it is not worth some time and effort.</p>

<p>@KathyC: Thanks for the input! They may bump Presidential Scholar Finalists up to Trustees???? I had never heard of that!</p>

<p>@texaspg: Thanks for the input also! My other choices are HYPS, UC Berkeley, UC LA. I applied to Dartmouth and got a non-athlete likely letter, so I'm hoping that that means I am a pretty good candidate for the Ivies and other such competitive schools. I think I may just get in to some of these!</p>

<p>Did you apply for financial aid at SC? You have been admitted with a great scholarship. I would not make any decisions until you receive admittance responses from your other choices. You and your family should study all the financial aid packages and decide which university is the best for you as far as location, major, fit and affordability. </p>

<p>Since the deadline for applying for financial aid was February 2nd, SC will not be sending out financial aid packages for some time.</p>

<p>HYPS usually have loan free packages. I don't know if USC and Dartmouth have similar policies. So until you see packages from everyone, you don't want to stop looking at any of them based on your high FA requirements. </p>

<p>Did you not try questbridge?</p>

<p>Re: flying in the night before. Call and find out the exact itinerary for the weekend. As I recall (from 2010), the morning activities were very loosely structured, so we didn't really need to be there as early as the printed schedule indicated.</p>

<p>@Georgia Girl and texaspg: Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely keep in mind that my high FA requirements might mandate looking at more colleges on my part. </p>

<p>And I did try Questbridge - I didn't even make it to the Finalist round :[</p>

<p>@IloveLA: Thanks for your input! Will definitely do so. May I ask how you managed to transport yourself to and from the airport (or any other place, depending on how you traveled) when the Explore USC session ended and began?</p>

<p>@strongestpark. I think there I saw a "tentative schedule" listed (one for students and one for parents) through the portal? Or maybe it is on the USC site but there is one posted. They also mentioned shuttle service to return to LAX for departures starting at 3pm on the second day - don't remember reading anything about getting there.</p>

<p>"am wondering this because the Presidential Scholarship only covers half of my tuition - so around 22k/year. Will it be affordable for me to go, in the case that I receive a Presidential Scholarship, if my family's EFC is ~$1000? I know the total cost of attending USC yearly is around $50,000.</p>

<p>Will USC be able to cover my need with grants instead or will they only be able to give me tens of thousands in loans?"</p>

<p>YES. You will probably be offered work study aid in addition to grants on top of your merit scholarship, but USC is committed to making an education affordable for low income students. And there is also the possibility of having your Presidents scholarship being bumped up to a full tuition scholarship! That WONT happen unless you DO come to an Explore event. So come, interview and then wait to see how your FA package compares to those from other colleges.</p>

<p>Might I suggest OP call USC FinAid office and ask about this. If I understand correctly, the EFC is ~$1000, meaning a good FA package should provide a meaningful amount in grant aid--perhaps as much as $40K or more, with the rest in Pell grant, guaranteed student loan (typically $5500/year) and work study. If the grant amount should be larger than $21K Presidential and more or less equal to Trustee, then does it make sense for a well qualified (extremely low EFC) admit to use FA instead? </p>

<p>OP, you are already admitted to USC so clearly among the top applicants. Call FA and ask direct questions.</p>

<p>Best of luck.</p>

<p>Madbean, I can't imagine you are implying that students should or can chose BETWEEN financial aid and scholarships? There would be no point in that - the two work together. Alamemom will explain this better than I can, but a student who receives a nice scholarship AND has a low EFC has a GREATER chance of affording USC than one who is counting on financial aid alone. (And just off the top of my not-close-to-Alamemom head, the scholarships don't need to be re-applied for every year like FA does!)</p>

<p>And just to reiterate what others have told the OP, missing out on a chance to be "bumped" up to a Trustee scholarship makes no sense. Go!</p>

<p>Sorry jazz/shreddermom, but I understood that the FA decision about grant awards must take into account all sources of funds to pay for college. When a student is awarded any sort of merit scholarship (whether from outside sources or USC or?) I believe it is paid down against the amount of aid they would be entitled to. Otherwise, students could end up making money by combining scholarships and FinAid above and beyond the costs. </p>

<p>So yes, the merit award just cancels out a portion of the grant aid the student might receive in very low EFC students. Most FinAid awards include a portion of student loans and workstudy, in addition to grant (free) aid. </p>

<p>As for the slight chance of being bumped up to Trustee, again, that is only about $42K (did I really just type <em>only</em>--lol!). This student says the EFC is $1K. In broad terms, if that is true, it means USC would expect the family to contribute only $1K and would provide approx $56K in FinAid, which includes student loans of approx $5.5K, workstudy of about $3K, and perhaps $47.5K in grants. In this scenario, a student bumped up to Trustee (worth $42K) would see their institutional grant money reduced by exactly that much and receive the difference of $5.5K in grants. The total would be the same but come from different sources. With this particular student, FinAid most certainly looks like it could make the merit awards irrelevant.</p>

<p>I hope alamemom, the guru of FinAid facts, will come quickly to correct this if I am mistaken. But merit aid tends to benefit the middle-income family most--those who cannot qualify for any FinAid grants.</p>


<p>There would be no reason to decline a Presidential scholarship offer in favor of financial aid. Yes, merit awards and need-based financial aid are coordinated to meet 100% of a student's need, but a merit scholarship in no way reduces the total amount a student would receive. It is always advantageous to accept a merit award, because you will continue to receive it even if your financial circumstances and need-based aid eligibility changes in subsequent years while financial aid is re-calculated each year. In other words, TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP!!!</p>

<p>In the past, there have been questions about the statement in the Presidential and Trustee award letters mentioning a limit on the amount of other merit awards from USC sources, and if that statement applies to financial aid grants. It does NOT. Financial aid applicants remain eligible to have 100% of their USC-determined need met even when they are Presidential and Trustee scholarship awardees. In other words, TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP!!!</p>

<p>Others have mentioned the GPA requirement to keep the Trustee, Presidential, Dean's and other USC scholarships, and have suggested that financial aid was a "safer bet." If a student who has applied for financial aid and has been determined to have need loses their scholarship because they did not meet the GPA requirement, they are still eligible to have 100% of their USC-determined need met as long as they are academically eligible and are making SAP (satisfactory academic progress for financial aid). In other words, TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP!!!</p>

<p>One other note: I have noted a pattern of many Presidential, Trustee and some Dean's Scholarship awardees receiving an additional $2,500/year scholarship in April. For those receiving need-based financial aid, that scholarship is typically used to replace work/study - that is a great benefit. In other words, TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP!!!</p>

<p>Did I mention that you should TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP???</p>

<p>You had enough of an interest in USC that it was "worth it" to invest the time to complete an application.</p>

<p>And it was "worth it" to pay the application fee or invest the time in obtaining an application fee waiver.</p>

<p>As you completed the above steps, I have to assume you were aware that you could not pay the sticker price of $57,000, yet it was still "worth it" at that time.</p>

<p>NOW you are ACCEPTED and $21,000 closer to the possibility of attending. It still is out of your reach financially, but it is a LOT closer than it was when you invested the time in applying. Why would it be less "worth it" now???</p>

<p>If you haven't yet submitted your CSS/Profile and FAFSA, do so as soon as possible. The due dates were February 2nd. And to anticipate your next question, YES, the fee for the CSS/Profile is "worth it" at this point!</p>

<p>Good luck at the interview.</p>

<p>Loans - USC packages the standard Stafford loans $5,500 freshman year. $6,500 soph, $7,500 jr. and $7,500 senior (all these details and LOTS more appear on page one of the Financial Aid FAQ thread).</p>

<p>EFC: Your FAFSA EFC is ONLY used to distribute federal aid such as Stafford loans and Pell grants. With a $1,000 FAFSA EFC you would be eligible for the Stafford loans detailed above, a $4,500 Pell, and possibly work/study of ~$2,500.</p>

<p>USC uses the CSS/Profile to distribute USC grants. NOT the FAFSA. NOT the FAFSA. NOT the FAFSA. The CSS/Profile considers assets the FAFSA does not, such as home equity, so many find that the amount they are expected to contribute at USC is more than their FAFSA EFC. Please use the USC net price calculator linked in the Financial Aid FAQ (and on the USC website) to get abetter estimate of the aid you may receive at USC.</p>

<p>A note about the "no loan" policies mentioned in other posts: The aid at those schools is wonderful, but it is important to note that the "no loan" statement refers to the need-based package, not to the cost of attendance, and that all schools offering tha policy use the CSS/Profile to determine need. So if a student was determined to have a need of $20,000, there would be no loans included in the $20,000 package presented. However, the family might find they need loans to meet their contribution of $30,000+ at those schools - which have a COA of over $50,000, in which case they might take advantage of Parent PLUS loans or other financing options.</p>

<p>Right! Thanks for coming in and straightening things out. I sorta think money is, you know, money. I wanted to make sure that FinAid applicants understood their merit awards are not added to the determined need, but used to help meet it. And if a student qualifies for a very large amount of grant aid, how the merit awards offset the grants may not appreciably change that number. I see by the various (and complex!) numbers alamemom has posted that it is still always better to TAKE THE SCHOLARSHIP!! </p>

<p>I was considering a possibly moot point that for some very very low EFC families, who have no reason to expect see a sudden change in their qualifying circumstances around the corner, the FinAid grants awarded by USC often make attending the school within reach, even if the merit scholarship outcomes may not go as wished. </p>

<p>As for a student who asks if it's worth it to attend Explore, there may be circumstances where there just isn't money available to travel to USC. Would you advise such a student borrow money, or invest their college savings into taking this trip? Even if the outcome were to receive a presidential scholarship when their FinAid grants could be proven (by the handy USC calculator) to be significantly greater?</p>

<p>No, I would suggest they contact USC admissions and tell them that they simply cannot afford to attend. There is already a stipend for air (I recall it was $60 for CA, and up to $200 for other states), and it is possible that with documented extreme financial need there could be additional help or the possibility of an alternate interview plan. It is always worth it to ask. </p>

<p>When money is an issue, the student may have to travel alone and take a red-eye so they spend only the night in the dorm and do not need a hotel.</p>

<p>Another reason I feel it is worth it for a high-need student to attend the scholarship interview is that the student has EARNED a scholarship interview for an incredibly prestigious scholarship to a highly selective university. They deserve the woo-fest of being courted by USC and experiencing the scholarship Explore. They will not be the same afterward. Whether they choose USC or not, it will have an impact on their self-image for the rest of their lives that a need-based package will not.</p>