Likelihood of Merit Based Scholarships [TX resident, top 2% rank, 34 ACT, 1460 SAT, <$40k, computer science]

I am a high school senior this year, and I’m looking at colleges to apply to. Based on scholarship calculators from a few colleges’ websites, I most likely am not going to receive any need-based scholarships. Currently, I can only go to colleges that are ~$40k/year (without taking out an expensive student loan I am not comfortable having), but many out of state colleges that I’ve looked at are more expensive than that, in the range of $50k-$70k (I would like to go to an out of state college). On average, do colleges award merit based scholarships? If they do, how much will they give? How much does it depend on the college? Is it likely that if I try, I can get scholarships from outside of the college? I really don’t know much about college, but my friends (who don’t have an exceptionally high GPA, class rank, or test scores) have gotten ~$10k in scholarships at various colleges. I currently am class rank 9 out of 780, ACT 34, SAT 1460. I would like to apply to decent computer science colleges, such as Ann Arbor Michigan, Georgia Tech, UIUC, etc. Applying to colleges that I don’t know I’ll even be able to afford isn’t worth the time and money, so help is appreciated. ty in advance!

It depends very much on the school.

My son didn’t even consider applying to UMich (for example), since it is very expensive and isn’t likely to give merit scholarships.

On the other hand, my son received excellent merit scholarships from Pitt, UMN-TC, Ohio State, and UConn that would have brought his OOS cost below $40k. He had similar stats to what you describe (SAT 1460, very good GPA). There are many other good schools out there that offer merit; I’m sure some other posters can make suggestions. :slight_smile:


Just to be clear: a few (auto-merit) schools have scholarship tables or calculators that tell you how much merit (non need-based aid) you’ll receive based on your stats. Separately, there are Net Price Calculators* that give you a rough estimate of how much you might be expected to pay. It sounds like you used the latter, not the former?

First of all, these are not “decent” CS schools - they are all top CS schools, and get a lot of highly qualified applicants. Therefore they don’t need to provide much merit aid.

Assuming you won’t qualify for need based aid**, you should only apply to schools that will provide you large amounts of merit aid to get the COA within your budget. Among the top ranked CS schools, only Purdue will come close to budget without merit aid (about $42k). The rest will all be higher, some a lot higher. GT and UMD hand out a small number of full rides to exceptional students, but these are very hard to get and shouldn’t be counted upon. Sounds like you need to mainly target auto-merit/generous merit schools instead of these schools. @tsbna44 can provide guidance.

(* NPC calculators haven’t been updated for the new 2024 methodology, and can be inaccurate if your parents are divorced, have a business, etc.)

(** I’m going by what you said re. need based aid. It’s best to have your parents run the calculators at a bunch of schools).


There are a lot of good schools in CS that have guaranteed merit for your stats - Embry-Riddle and Florida Tech, Illinois Inst. Tech, Rose Hilman, Missouri Science and Tech. Those doing the hiring in CS have heard of (and respect) these schools even if your friends haven’t. Schools like Mich and Gtech don’t give out much (enough) in merit aid to out of state students.

@AustenNut can give you a list but may need more info like your home state and other things you are looking for (size, area of the country)


Good school, but I am not sure Rose auto merit brings the cost down to $40k? I believe that the cost after merit for a high stat student would be more like $50k+.

(I don’t know how to reply to certain sections of a post lol)
Ty for responding! It sounds like I am considering the wrong colleges. Do you guys have any colleges that would be within my price range and would give merit scholarships? For reference, I live in Texas (applying to UT Austin and several other UT locations) and would like to go to a college that isn’t small (medium sized? not sure how they’re classified so a school with like 10k+ students) and that is farther up north to escape the heat lol. It would also be nice to go to a college with more minorities where I don’t have to deal with rednecks every time I go outside.


Unless you’re from the state, don’t waste your time. State schools are there for their students. Others who want those students will pay and there’s tons of top kids at those schools for reasons like yours - affordability.

You can go to your home state flagship. You can go to - depending on your gpa which you don’t lost - an Alabama, UAH, Arizona, Arizona State, potentially Purdue, Mizzou, Lsu, Miss State, New Mexico, various SUNYs and so many more. I’ll put a sample below. Alabama - which gives merit based on stats.

You can apply where you want but two things have to happen. 1. You need to get in. Not easy. #2. You need to be able to afford. Highly highly highly unlikely. There may be some LACs that could work.

Like anything in life, you need to be able to afford. You don’t stay at the Ritz Carlton if you can only afford the Marriott, no matter how much better your perception is.

And guess what - CS employers give hiring tests. My nephew is in CS at a major Manhattan company with a poli sci degree from AZ. He had a job which taught him some and did a lot of self study.

Get into a solid and AFFORDABLE school and you’ll be fine. Adding an industry pro @coolguy40 .

Here’s an example. COA is low 50s. Find your gpa and take that amount off.


Congratulations on all of your hard work in college. Because of your academic performance in high school, there will be colleges that are happy to offer you sufficient merit aid to keep your costs below $40k/year. Below are some schools that you may want to consider:

  • Appalachian State (NC): About 19k undergrads
    Binghamton (NY): What many consider to be New York’s flagship, this school of about 14k undergrads is trying to attract more out-of-state students, so there’s a good chance you’d receive sufficient merit to bring this school within budget.* DePaul (IL): About 14k undergrads
  • George Washington (D.C.): About 11k undergrads. This would be a reach to get sufficient merit aid, but it’s definitely possible.
  • Kansas State: About 15k undergrads
  • Miami (OH): About 17k undergrads
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology: About 9k undergrads
  • North Carolina A&T: An HBCU with about 12k undergrads
  • Stony Brook (NY): About 18k undergtads
  • U. of Dayton (OH): About 8400 undergrads
  • U. of Delaware: About 19k undergrads
  • U. of Kansas: About 19k undergrads
  • U. of Maryland-Baltimore County: About 12k undergrads
  • U. of Nebraska - Lincoln: About 19k undergrads. If you have any interest in business as well as CS, you may want to look into the Raikes program there.
  • U. of Nevada - Reno: About 17k undergrads
  • U. of New Mexico: About 16k undergrads
  • U. of North Carolina - Charlotte: About 23k undergrads

ETA: Missouri S&T is really a great option. Although it’s smaller than your indicated preference (about 5500 undergrads), I’d still take a really good look at it.


Since you are in Texas and in the top 10% of your class, you really should apply to both Texas and Texas A&M. They are both amongst the finer engineering schools in the country and have top CS programs (though A&M has ETAM which means no guaranteed seat into CS). You might also look at Tech and Houston. Outside of Texas and in your price range, I would look at Iowa State (look, they invented computers), Ohio State, Oregon State, Arizona, and Arizona State. If you really want to get your cost of attendance down, then look at Mississippi State. Each of these schools either have (or will soon have) defined merit on their webpages that show you what your cost of attendance could be. Just understand that in addition to such scholarships, in some instances, there may be unstated departmental scholarships (such as at Iowa State) that bring the cost down even more. With your stats, you should be admitted into each of the above schools, with each being at or below $40k/year. Good luck.


I agree that OP should definitely apply to the Texas publics. But although he’d be guaranteed a seat at each since he’s top 6% (UT) and top 10% (A&M), he’s not guaranteed his major. I don’t know enough about UT to know if they will let him know upon acceptance if he was also accepted to the CS major or not. At A&M he would be accepted to the college of engineering, but then he’d need at least a 3.75GPA once there to be able to guarantee a CS major. UT-Dallas would be a good school to look at as it also has a strong CS department, may have a higher percentage of students of color, and is reputed to have a more academic feel overall than some of the other Texas publics.

I forgot about UT-D. Good call.

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University of Texas is 35% white.

University of Michigan is 65% white.


Some just want OOS. I didn’t realize you were a Texas resident but UNM and U Arizona will be affordable and diverse.

I understand your need to get out of Texas. This summer has been horrible. My kids both left Texas and are getting merit aid at small privates that puts their COA at around $40k and their grades weren’t nearly as strong as yours. Would you be open to liberal arts colleges with strong CS programs?

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ty! I’ll look into these colleges

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wow, that is a lot of aid right off the bat. I’ll see if I can find some more colleges that have similar scholarships

I looked at US News, and they have different statistics (I can’t post the link here)

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The other day I left my phone outside in the shade, and it overheated just by sitting there lol. As long as the college I go to has a decent CS program, I would be happy to go

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You gave a rank and test. What is your gpa?

There’s tons of great colleges. Not just the ones at a top of an arbitrary list.

You have to open your mind.