Full Ride in UF or List Price in Duke

DD21 got full ride in #30 UF, in honor program and other scholarships. She also recently got admission to Duke but no FA. She’s considering pre-med. She’s seriously considering whether to spent her 300K 529 savings now or used it in her medical school. Any ideas?

Save it for med school. Take the full ride! Congrats.


Take the full ride to Florida whether or not medical school remains as a goal.


Full ride. Especially since the pandemic has forced some hybrid class options and I’m still a bit skeptical about fall.


If medical school is likely, save it. If not, the calculation may change. Duke will expose her to a different set of opportunities that may not be available from UF.

We went through a similar calculation with my daughter, who graduated high school in 2017. At the time of her applications, her plan was to study neuroscience likely followed by medical school. We told her that we had saved about $250k for her education and that if she was sure of medical school she should take scholarships for her undergraduate education.

She applied to schools ranging from Alabama and Pitt on one end to University of Chicago and MIT at the other. Received full scholarships at the former and we were full pay at the latter.

By the time she was about to graduate high school, she decided she wasn’t committed to medical school. In the end, she chose University of Chicago and we were thrilled with that decision. After the first quarter, she decided to drop neuroscience as a major as she realized that the two career paths were working in a lab after a PhD, or medical school, and she wasn’t excited about either one. Switched to economics, and is now going to start her NYC finance job this summer. Her path would have been near impossible at Pitt or Alabama.

Now, UF is not Pitt or Alabama. Pitt may have the edge when it comes to pre-med, but in all other ways, UF is superior. So there are more viable exit paths from UF. But UF is also not Duke, which again presents a different set of opportunities.


By the way @DD2003 , you may get more responses if you tag your post with “help-me-decide”. Don’t know if that is still possible for you to edit your original post, but thought mention it.

@hebegebe, Thank you, your feedback is very useful. We understand that the prestige of Duke would help her, just don’t know if that name worth $300K. She’s the only child, so we may possible save her another $300K for medical school if necessary, but that amount is never easy for middle class like us.

Money matters at Duke. Not necessary, but it will help.

Recently had a nephew graduate Duke with a degree in Public Policy & could not get a job, then returned for a business related masters degree at Duke. Still cannot find a job.

Not worth $300,000. Not worth $250,000. Not worth $200,000. Not worth $150,000 over full ride at Florida. If prestige is important, then Duke may be worth $100,000 or less over a full ride to Florida, but you can buy a Duke masters degree for less than $100,000.

I did not expect you to say you are middle class given the $300k in savings. I know that must have involved significant sacrifices.

Given this situation, I say save the money. If she attends medical school, you can give her the ultimate gift of being able to graduate from medical school for free. And if she doesn’t, you have the freedom to be able to help her in other ways, perhaps for a future MBA, or even your retirement.

We are upper income and saving $250k was not a financial burden for us. But we weren’t willing to guarantee a blank check beyond that, and I think that forcing kids to think about the value of money is useful.

We are Asian parents, we tend to do everything possible to help child. We are professionals, earn our salaries. We are solid middle class. We don’t drive fancy cars or use the latest iOS gadgets. We work hard and hope that our next generation will have better opportunity than us.


Definitely full ride and save for med school. GPA and MCAT are the key factors in med school admission. UF is a great school and the honors program is a plus. Congrats to her!!!


I want to reinforce what VirginiaBelle said in case you didn’t already know it. When it comes to medical school admissions, the undergraduate college has only a marginal effect.

Many people who know a great deal about elite undergraduate college admissions miss this key detail about medical school admissions. My boss has three kids that attended Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. When I told him that my daughter was interested in medical school and had applied to Pitt and Alabama, he couldn’t believe it, as he was certain that his daughter attending Princeton would make a huge difference in her medical school admissions. After she was admitted to medical school and started attending, he realized that medical schools take kids from everywhere, including plenty of public schools.

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Yes. And even a step further than that. There are lots of very good state research institutions with medical schools. They turn out lots of excellent doctors who are very well trained and go onto competitive residencies and internships. I have three physicians in my immediate family. Two went to well respected southern state medical schools. The other went to a top-tier private medical school. All three are very successful in their careers, but the private medical school grad is still paying off her loans. The two public school grads knocked theirs out within a few years (one had his paid off from moonlighting in residency).

They are all in private practice so the admission calculus may be different if you plan on becoming a researcher or want to be employed as a teaching physician.

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This is very true. I’m a 2nd-year premed and chose to attend a public state school because they gave me the most amount. I’m an immigrant, we literally have no money so it was my only option. However, I would like to mention for any future reader that if you’re interested in med school, it is important to make sure that you go to a school with a hospital attached since you will be set for extracurriculars. They are also very important for your application and there are many opportunities for you to stand out. No one cares where you went for med school rather what you did at your time there.

I didn’t make this decision the right way and now applying for transfer at UNC. If I went to a school with a hospital attached, I would have received many opportunities to do internships, shadowing, work, etc in the healthcare field.

That being said, I also don’t think Duke’s $300K brand name is worth it - especially since you’re middle class. UF is an amazing school with a great med school attached. Their med school can get you into top programs for residency. Since Step 1 is now P/F, the med school you went to is highly important. I never heard anyone that went there unsatisfied with their results to get into med school. Go to UF - there is literally nothing wrong with what they are offering.

UF is a no-brainer here. Great school at a great price - what’s not to like? (I’m saying this as a Duke grad.)


Haha, I would be honestly shocked if someone decided to turn down a UF full-ride. I think it’s a great school even if you don’t want to go to med school at the end

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A lot of people turn down major scholarships. We know a person from our town that turned down a full tuition Cornelius Vanderbilt scholarship in order to attend Duke at full sticker, and there you are talking about a very marginal difference in rankings and opportunities. But that particular family wouldn’t notice the money either way, which is very different from the situation here.