Looking for schools that meet need

My son is a highly competitive student - senior in the fall. SAT of 1580, ACT 34, 4.0 GPA (unwt), 4.8 (wt), will graduate with IB diploma as well as AP Scholar. Originally was interested in going to a “name” school and doing pre-med but doesn’t really want to go to school for the next 12 years or so, and is leaning towards business with a minor in health policy/administration (will likely change, he’s only 17, LOL), possibly going to school to become a PA. I’m a single parent with a fairly low income, no other income to consider. So, he knows he needs to follow the money. His top thoughts right now are University of Arizona - honors college (hopefully) and Eller business school or ASU Barrett and WP Carey business school. Other schools: UT @ Austin - McCombs biz school (unlikely as they don’t give much OOS $$), BU, DU, CU Boulder (we are instate for CO although they typically do not give out much $$), Kelly School of business at Indiana, Tulane, Duke, UNC, University of South Carolina. My question/concern is that we are potentially leaving money on the table by not applying to other schools that may meet need, but to be honest, I don’t know where else he should apply and am looking for some suggestions. He does not want a cold climate, does not really want to stay in Colorado, prefers close to a city, is not a partier and will not be joining a fraternity.

I had a discussion with a “college coach” as I’m most concerned about overlooking schools that will give great merit and also other scholarship money (he’s not interested in U of Alabama) by limiting his school choices. I’d rather “overspend” on applications and have some great schools for him to choose from rather than have him limit to just a few. This “coach” (who I did not hire - well, to be fair he decided I was never going to be able to come up with the $4k he required and didn’t call me back as he said he would) basically told me that my son would be selling himself short at UA or ASU, that he could go to a “better” school and get more money. And while I really did not like him, and don’t agree with his first statement, I do think there is validity to his second one.

So, looking for some other school suggestions that we may not be considering that may be a good fit for my son AND will potentially help out financially.

TIA for reading this long post - I appreciate your help.


If so, read FAQ: Divorced parents, financial aid, and net price calculators on financial aid for that situation. (However, the definition of “custodial parent” is scheduled to change soon to the parent providing the most financial support.). Basically, divorced parents can be very disadvantageous at many good-financial-aid colleges.

Chicago and Vanderbilt are the two “prestige” privates that do not require non custodial parent finances for financial aid, so you may want to check their net price calculators.


Have you run the Net Price Calculator at some private schools to see what they say? For example, what does the Duke NPC say?

You could also try running the NPC at Rice and Vandy if you wanted to add more southern reaches.

FWIW, I like this list. Honors college at these schools will be full of bright, motivated students. Your son will not be selling himself short.

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With his stats, your child can aim a little higher than UA. Here is a list of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), the schools behind the greatest annual, inter-generational, re-distribution of wealth in the country as measured by need-based college financial aid:
Amherst College
Barnard College
Bowdoin College
Brown University
Bryn Mawr College
Carleton College
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Middlebury College
Mount Holyoke College
Northwestern University
Oberlin College
Pomona College
Princeton University
Rice University
Smith College
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
Trinity College
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rochester
Vanderbilt University
Washington Univ. in St.Louis
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
Williams College
Yale University


Yes, divorced. Ex doesn’t work, doesn’t contribute anything. I have always had sole physical and legal custody. Everything is on me. Son rarely sees him, but I know he’ll have to fill out a portion of the CSS if he applies to any school that requires it.

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Will the ex be cooperative with financial aid forms?

When he was set on med school, his top 2 choices were Rice and Northwestern (I LOVE that campus, he did too but not the weather, LOL). He may still apply to Rice although from a friend who visited and is close to my son, she didn’t get a good feel from the student body, felt they were an “entitled” group and that neither she nor my son would fit in well. I love Vandy - that is actually on his list. I put on Emory as well, and University of Florida (my cousin’s twins, super smart boys, are starting there next fall).

I have not run any NPC - dumb, right? I think I’m afraid. I have very little put away in 529’s, unfortunately. But what may kill me is I own an investment property, which is worth a bit but is currently underwater due to covid.

Maybe, but he hasn’t worked in 20+years, lives on disability (and his mother and money earned under the table)… so I don’t really know. But it will show little to no income.

Run the NPC. Having the information will help your student be realistic with their college list. If you don’t qualify for enough need based aid because of investment properties or whatever, then your list is fabulous and your son will have affordable options with the high merit schools.

Graduating debt free is way more important than prestige hunting.


YES!! We shifted our entire train of t hought over the last year from going to a top school/well known, etc to getting the best financial package he could get and graduating debt free. So, will he end up in Dartmouth - nope, not likely - and that is OK. He’s a great student and a great kid, no athlete but lots of other strengths, including kindness, empathy, perseverance and self-motivation. He’ll succeed wherever he goes. Our financial situation may preclude him from going to a top tier school but it won’t preclude him from succeeding. I just want to help him find the best fit for him, where he will be happy and successful and where he can have great professors, great internship/future job possibilities, etc.

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How much can you afford out of pocket per year?

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@circuitrider has given you a comprehensive list of schools to consider. This is an outstanding list.

Nevertheless, the list does not include Indiana University which is well respected for both business & health management. Indiana awards lots of merit scholarships through the Kelley School of Business.

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Honestly, not much - I have 2 kids starting at the same time! My daughter is going to go local here in CO, and that will be about $15k out of pocket after taking into consideration the FA package (although that may change as the package was done for next year but she is deferring a year and doing one year at the community college). So, between 2 kids I can do about $20k and will likely cash out some from my 401K to do so, I don’t want loans. My kids may have to do small loans, will both do work study but I’m not willing to do big loans for me. They each have some 529 money, enough to cover 1-2 years possibly, depending on FA package.

ASU Barrett/Carey is an outstanding choice with or without financial aid. If he is accepted to that program don’t look back. A college coach telling you your son would be selling himself short at Barrett would lose all credibility in my sight. It’s among the top honors colleges in the country as I have posted about many times.


Kelly is on my list (see original post). Son doesn’t want to go to Indiana but he will apply. They only give out up to $11k for OOS I believe, though, which will make it unaffordable. But, he will apply. Thank you! :slight_smile:

My thought as well! Thank you for the validation. We were going to visit this summer but it doesn’t make sense to go when no students are there, as he won’t get a real flavor for the school. I think he’d prefer the Tempe campus but the Business Administration major is out of Poly, I believe, so he’d likely do a different business major for WP Carey. I love this school, so this makes me feel good. He’s most likely going to go UA or ASU. UA is stronger in the sciences, so if he prefers to switch back to a pre-med focus, that would likely be a better choice. But if he wants business, then ASU is better (I think).

Any NPCs that don’t ask for investment property value may be inaccurate. Unfortunately the level of debt on the property doesn’t matter to some schools.

Run Vandy’s NPC here and let us know the answer (they do consider net value of investment property): Vanderbilt University - Net Price Calculator


This list is awesome, thank you so much!

Do you know, do any schools do a “free application” day - I just don’t want to spend thousands on applications - on the other hand, I want my son to have the best chance of finding “his place and his people”.

To the best of my knowledge, Indiana University offers merit scholarship awards which cover tuition, room & board, fees, and a mentor.

While Kelley Scholars is limited to residents of Indiana, the Fry Scholars scholarships & other merit awards are not.

The best source of information would be the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.


Colorado usually has a free application day for all public unis…your S’s GC should be able to help. Is your S on free/reduced lunch? If so, he may qualify for some free apps. Also, make sure he signs up for emails from the schools on his list and does virtual admissions sessions…sometimes those who participate in these lists/activities will get a code to submit the app for free.