Outlier here – I would work on the numbers at Grinnell a bit more, see if there are ways you can shave the difference. You can only borrow $5500 as a 1st year, so there is a gap. Check to see whether Grinnell’s cost of attendance includes student health insurance, often about $1500 or more. If you are staying on your parents’ health care and it provides out of network care, you may be able to reduce your cost of attendance by declining the student health insurance. What about housing and meal choices, check which plans the COA assumes, maybe there is some savings that can happen there. Find out about student jobs – my D3 athlete worked at the athletic center every week, had no problem fitting in the hours with his schedule. Of course, on the other hand, travel to campus may be pricer than estimated.
Grinnell is a fantastic school, we sometimes joke that we wish we’d had a 3rd kid so that SOMEONE would actually go to Grinnell, since both our kids visited and one was recruited athlete there, but neither went (athlete went for bigger merit elsewhere).
U Conn will set a student up well, but the decision to give up on college athletics at a great school would be a gut wrenching for our recruited athlete. Continuing to be part of a team, to train, compete, all that was important for our D3 kid. Of course, U Conn has great, competitive club teams in sports, so you may be able to continue to compete if that is important to you.
Are there other LACs you are talking to about recruiting, or is it really U Conn vs. Grinnell?