Finally got first SAT scores, now to figure out schools??? Please help

<p>My S got his first SAT scores Math 750, CR 720, and Writing 580. Bleh I know that last one left a bad taste in our maths. He has taken the SAT 2 in Chem spohmore year and got a 740 and a 5 on the AP test. His course load is decently rigorous I think he'll gratuate with about 6-7 AP classes. ECs are okay he taught guitar at an after school program. Leads praise at our church, president of Tech Club that he established at the school. Has been the judge and helped consistent at this ESL reading Bee project from Wells Fargo. His cumm grade unweighted is around 3.85. We make decent money just about $100k. Only one child, but after taxes, retirement, mortgage, bills. not much left over. We've definitely been looking at merit aid and places like Alabama look so tempting. He also for some reason fell in love with Pitt and Reed. Neither of which I think I can afford.</p>

<p>Any suggestions of other merit aid options?</p>

<p>We're still applying to Cal Poly and some state school as safeties. But we're CA residents and schools are a bit pricey. Friends son goes to Cal Poly its close to $20k a year, UC is probably closer to $30k a year. If we cut back to the max and avoided retirement contributions to minimum we could probably swing $10k.</p>

<p>So far he sent his SAT to</p>

<p>Grinnell
Stanford (can dream right, but that writing killed it for sure)
Alabama
Pitt</p>

<p>He's looking into Physics and Engineering. LACs sound awesome. We're saving up for trips in summer or spring. But most LACs don't have engineering or do they?</p>

<p>Any suggestions on other potential schools would be amazing! The EFC calculators at FAFSA said $23k a year contribution and we definitely don't have that. It would probably be some hefty loans. He's a junior now so we still have time. The Alabama rep was so nice and insanely informative! But out here college fairs are almost all State and UC schools.</p>

<p>LACs with engineering:
Swarthmore, Harvey Mudd, Trinity (Hartford).</p>

<p>Some expectations-management may be in order here. Hard to do in this season, I know. Generally, the more selective the school, the better the need-based aid, but the less likely you are to get merit aid (if they even have it). Quite a few good LACs might offer some merit money to a student with your kid's stats. However, this probably will only amount to a $5K-$10K discount, not a full tuition windfall. So I'm afraid you can almost rule out a selective LAC if your EFC is $23K and you cannot afford that. Don't expect to get much below the EFC after need-based aid (which typically will include some loans). </p>

<p>Go ahead and apply to a school like Grinnell as a reach (they might be more generous than I'm suggesting), but I think you will need to focus on in-state public universities and less selective OOS schools (such as Alabama maybe). For families making ~$100K, the system is set up around expectations that (a) you've been saving prodigiously for college since the kids were born, or (b) your kids have phenomenal stats and/or amazing athletic talents, or (c) you expect to attend an in-state public university, and are willing either to borrow to help pay for it or else commute to reduce expenses. Pitt does give some merit scholarships to OOS students. Whether it would be enough to get you to your $10K limit is another question.</p>

<p>He would prob. get merit money at the University of South Carolina that brings it down to the instate price and would be in the honors program but it would still cost more than $10K per year.</p>

<p>Thank you everyone for the responses! They're very encouraging. It's just what I thought. In CA there is like zero help beyond need based. I notice Cal recently upped they're financial need based amount to $140k. Our local State school SF State that I'm an alum of is not very good for sciences, it's known for business and teaching credentials. Even if he went to the top state school, Cal Poly San Luis Bispo I thing total costs to attend is around $20k meaning we'd have to pay full out of pocket, which I'm 100% sure we cannot do without fairly large loans.</p>

<p>I guess I'll look into South Carolina as well. Thank you for the tips and the reality check.</p>

<p>Just to give you another inkling of what to expect; we make about 70,000 a year, have no assets at all, our EFC is about $8000 and most schools gave great merit and need based aid to my D, but the closest we could get financially was full tuition, leaving us to pay $11,500. to cover room and board. This is at a private that costs the same after all aid as one of the in-state schools our D was accepted to, since the state school was only offering $1000 scholarship and stafford loans. Two schools that gave great merit and need based still expected us to be able to come up with 2.5 times our EFC - great schools, and hard to say "we just can't afford it" to our D, but we had to. So, that EFC calculation is really the very MINIMUM that you could expect to pay, but unless your son applies to schools absolutely dying to have him as a student (where his stats are at the very top of the applicant pool) you should probably expect to have to figure out how to come up with more than the EFC you are thinking of....</p>