Looking for advice in Merit aid for a top 1% student


What about University of South Carolina? They don’t have guaranteed scholarships…but their competitive ones are quite good…and your daughter seems to be well within the ball park for something.

Apply early, and get the scholarship application done…it’s a doozie, but if she gets an award, it’s worth it.

@KevinFromOC The Patterson is automatic if your D designates UKy as her first choice school. The Singletary is VERY competitive and is the premier scholarship offered there. Your D’s stats, while excellent, don’t guarantee an interview.

Thanks for the tip - I’ll put it on our radar and quite possibly add it to our list!

Right now if she had to pick a major it would be chemical engineering. That may change, but it will obviously be something in the engineering/STEM field.

So…that $120,000 a year is your net income.

Would it be accurate to say that your gross income is more in the $200,000 a year range?

Re: home equity. There are very few schools that use ALL of your home equity. They use a %age of your income usually although this varies by school.

And lots of schools don’t use home equity at all. Your UCs and Cal States don’t. Neither do the public universities that only use the FAFSA…which doesn’t mention primary home equity at all.

Is this kid 100% positive that she wants to be an engineer? I only ask because old timers here know my kid’s story. She majored in engineering, and then picked up a double major in biology. She will never be an engineer. Ever.

@twoinanddone would your kid’s school come in at the right price point…and what engineering majors do they offer? (Wyoming?)

We’ve visited about a dozen D1 hockey schools, visited with coaches, and gone to more showcases with college coaches present than I’d care to count. She’s a goalie, so only about half of the D1 schools are looking for a goalie for 2020, and only half of those schools offer engineering, and of the schools that meet that criteria they are only looking for 1 goalie. She came close with a couple of schools that offer engineering, but in the end they committed someone else. She was told by a couple coaches that although they didn’t commit her, if she attended the school there most likely would be a spot for her on the team. So perhaps we’re weighting those schools a little more (BU, Northeastern, RPI, RIT, Ohio State)

She could very likely get a full ride at Clarkson. And hockey heaven! My niece graduated recently and is currently getting her PhD - so many good things to say about that school. One of my D’s best friends from hs got a full ride last year (over and above, actually).

Yeah, I can see your point, but here’s my (perhaps flawed) thinking :
I want to leave the option of having her go to one of these elite schools open for as long as possible. Maybe by applying to 6 she’ll be admitted to 2 of them. And maybe she’ll win a big outside scholarship that would make the school affordable. That’s a couple of big "Maybe"s, and I haven’t yet looked at outside scholarships yet, so I don’t know how much of a pipe dream this is. She’s not hard over on what school she wants to go to, so even if she gets into one of these schools and we have to decline for financial reasons, it won’t be too painful.

Most of the BIG outside scholarships have a significant need component. You don’t have significant financial need. Simply put, your family contribution would need to be close to $0 to get these BIG outside awards.

So…what outside awards do you think she could get that would cover at least full tuition for four years? We did have a friend (sample of one) whose kid got a full ride from their employer…but it was highly competitive. She hit it lucky.

The most important thing for your daughter to clearly understand…is…if the money is not forthcoming, the school cannot be attended. What will you do if she gets accepted to Stanford or MIT with insufficient funds? Are you really prepared to say NO…or will you be convinced that all the loan money is worth it? Think carefully about this. Very carefully.

I’m going to flag @CourtneyThurston who had a lot of success getting scholarships…but not at those elite schools. She graduated and has a great job, I believe. I don’t know if she still accesses this forum or not.

ETA…I think it’s fine to have a couple of reaches on the application list as long as the student understands the financial parameters. And understands them very clearly!

Those “outside scholarships” are insanely competitive and you need to already be working on those applications (this all takes massive amounts of time). Maybe there is a bit of misunderstanding on my part…but the way you are writing makes me wonder if your daughter has started any part of any of these applications or even just figured our how many essays, supplements, etc will be needed to complete all these applications.

The time commitment it takes to do these applications cannot be understated. Without trying to change your mind, I would really suggest you and your daughter sit down and figure out a well-defined plan of attack. Scattershot applications can be a massive time and energy drain - figure out real safeties (affordable and she’s willing to go there with engineering) and then pick 2-4 targets for merit and maybe a couple of reaches. Especially if you are going to spend any real time on trying to win outside scholarships as well (which often do have a financial need component to them if you haven’t already looked into any specific ones).

If your plan to get into a reach (and afford it) counts on getting an outside scholarship - realize your best chance at that is “one in a million” (not literally but practically).

Meets need schools don’t suddenly become affordable if you can’t meet your EFC. Huge outside scholarships are almost like unicorns, even for really awesome kids.
We were in exactly your financial situation with a high stat engineering daughter and a budget of 15-20k with a much higher EFC. Check out Illinois Institute of Technology. They offer full tuition and full ride competitive scholarships. My daughter’s covered a co-terminal masters degree as well. Plenty of opportunities for internships and great job placement, She had also applied to ASU and univ of Arizona (in state for us) and Wyoming on WUE. Wyoming offered additional scholarships and total cost was below our budget by quite a bit.

Ice hockey and Chemical Engineering? University of Minnesota- Duluth would be all over her.

@cshell2 Duluth already has 3 goalies on the roster. I doubt that they are looking for a fourth. There is only 36 D1 schools that have hockey. If each carry 3 goalies, only 27 women get on a team a year. Also, there are only 18 scholarships per team, so they all can’t be a full headcount. Duluth has 23 players on roster looking for the 18 scholarships.

My engineering daughter didn’t go to Wyoming, but Wyoming (or Montana, or Montana State or any of the smaller western flagships) would have a lot of money for a girl with these stats. At Wyo, she’d get either WUE or the top Brown and Gold (same amount, which is about $10k off $16k tuition, slightly different requirements to keep the awards), plus about $2500 in engineering school money, and any other scholarship she could pick up Hockey is club level so they’d love to have her but no money. It’s very likely tuition could be down to $5k and R&B about $10k. The hard rock engineering majors like petroleum (which is a subset of chemical) are tops at all the western schools. The weather is Wyoming is slightly different than Orange County.

I don’t think Colorado school of Mines would come in at $15k. They’d certainly give her some money, but OOS tuition is about $36k and then there is room and board. Also great chemical engineering school, but much more expensive than Wyoming, Montana, or even Colorado State for OOS students.

Hi OP, my D19 had similar stats/ECs as your daughter. We live in the SF bay area–a very modest house, not a huge income, but we make more than is allowed to qualify for aid so we knew she had to get merit aid or get into a good UC. We never looked at any of the UC’s as safeties since we heard so many weird stories of kids with perfect or near perfect stats not getting into those schools for whatever reason. But we told our girl she was on a UC budget. If she wanted to go anywhere else, she’d have to get enough merit aid to make it doable. We researched schools that tended to be generous and great for a Chem major.
She got in and got accepted to these schools with significant merit:
Case Western, Macalester, Grinnell, Butler, Kenyon, Georgia Tech
With the exception of Georgia Tech (who gave her a very surprising scholarship–doesn’t really happen for OOS kids–that brought the cost to $29K per year), the rest of the costs even with generous merit were between 30-40K per year.
She got accepted with NO merit aid to:
USC, Harvey Mudd
From our research, we knew Mudd didn’t give a lot of merit aid (financial aid yes, pure merit, no) , but she wanted to see if she could get in for her ego, so we let her do that. While USC can give significant merit aid, your stats and your student need to be very, very amazing. I would think you girl would have a shot for one of the merit awards at USC. It would at least be worth a shot

In the end, my D19 did get into all the UCs she applied to (UCLA, Cal, UCSD, Davis, UCSB and Santa Cruz). She chose UCLA.

Good luck on this journey! It certainly sounds like your daughter has worked extremely hard and will be successful where ever she ends up : )

What bout UT Dallas.

15K a year will basically cover room and board and that’s it. You’ll need a full tuition scholarship to keep within that budget, or close to it. Your safeties should include any automatic full tuition scholarships (bonus if they give you any other stipends). For the reach schools which Vandy should be in, Princeton will give the most FA so you may want to run an NPC with them, and then I would target a single school for the competitive merit aid. There is a ton of work involved in getting a top scholarship to a competitive school.

“Does this student NEED to major in chemical engineering”
Well, that depends on what they want to do. Chemical Engineers take more chemistry than other engineers and a Chemical engineer even uses different approaches in thermodynamics. Petroleum Engineers are not chemical engineers, but both may work together on large projects for Exon-Mobil. Better to be in a university with the full selection of options and courses. Would also be helpful to have some flexible, interdisciplinary approaches.

Harvey Mudd does have a different, more generalized engineering approach which is highly regarded, but it is difficult to know if they can be off the shelf Chemical Engineers… Ask them.

For employment purposes, it is best to have ABET accredited courses when pursuing engineering. It affects employment and graduate school opportunities.

I think you have a great plan. UCs with the local one a safety is affordable to you Some OOS schools like Alabama, USC ( South Carolina, not the CA private), Delaware, Pitt, , some private’s that are not as selective, WPI , RPI ,some distinct possibilities here.

Your top reach schools do not give financial aid. Sometimes, for truly exceptional students , research grants are offered or summer research opportunities. But if the NPCs for these schools are way out of range, the odds are not good. She would have to get merit money that brings the cost down to $15k, DD can take out the Direct loans, work summers and part time so that the max cost can go into low $20k range.

About outside scholarships , look up some of the colleges’ take on them. Yes, it is possible that your very talented DD gets some outside scholarship. money. It’s also highly probable that any merit money might cut into whatever the financial aid awards. Check out each schools’ policy in this regard. In my experience , they don’t usually stack, though they replace self help first. Things change, so go directly to the primary source, the colleges’ websites.

I suggest adding Rice to the list. Their NPC, last I checked, is not in line with their new initiative that offers families in your income bracket, extreme financial aid. I believe Hopkins has done something similar.

Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt also have generous merit money as well as does Emory. I don’t know if they have Chemical Engineering. I’d think GT does. The standards are high and the odds are low but your DD’s stats and resume are impressive and she has the extra of being a female in engineering and URM to boot