S24 is trying to finalize a list of schools to apply to after the disappointment of missing the National Merit Semifinalist cutoff for MA by one point (he has 221; needed a 222 in MA ). Before the news he had decided that he preferred the schools with very low cost NM packages over all his other possibilities. Now he isn’t sure what to do. I’m trying to help him find some other potential low-cost options (under $30K/year if possible).
The University of St. Thomas (in MN) has been recommended on here as a possible low-cost liberal arts college with engineering (but probably over $30K), so we are looking into that. I’ve seen Miami University of Ohio recommended as a good option that can be inexpensive, but I don’t think S24 will qualify for max merit (see GPA situation below). We’re looking for other possibilities to try to find some that spark his interest.
Basically, all the schools he likes well are either very expensive for us (Rochester), or very selective (Brown), or both (Tufts). And if he can’t go to a school that he feels excited about, he would rather pay as little as possible to go to a school that is fine than spend all his money and go into debt to go to a school that is also just fine (for him) or slightly better than fine.
Trying to sum up the situation, he really doesn’t know what he wants to do but he wants to keep engineering as an option and he doesn’t want to consider 3+2 programs. He wants to go somewhere he can have some flexibility in the first 2 years to pursue engineering but also take classes outside engineering, and still finish in 4 years (due to finances) whether he decides to stick with engineering or do a different major. He knows this might not be a possibility at many schools, and that is part of the reason he wants to keep his costs low so if he needs more schooling after four years it could be possible.
We aren’t sure how much financial aid we will qualify for. Our EFC last year (when S23 was applying to college) was ~72K. The financial aid package at the only school he applied to that (I think) said they met full need had us paying ~65K/year. The NPCs I have run for S24 have ranged from $31K to $50K. I am skeptical of the low numbers, though.
Our state flagship (UMass Amherst) at ~$35K/year is (1) much bigger than he’d prefer, and (2) unlikely to offer him Honors College as an engineering major to make it feel smaller & more comfortable.
Info to help get an idea of what merit might be possible:
- Homeschooled using mostly online class providers, DE in person at community college senior year only
- SAT 1500 (750/750)
- GPA 3.91UW (B in economics/US gov in 10th; B in AP Physics 1 in 11th) (because the classes he took online did not offer honors versions & I didn’t let him take AP classes until junior year, his weighted GPA is not much higher ~4.09)
- 3 APs completed with 4s (Physics 1, Comp Sci A, Calc AB); taking AP Lit this year
- 4 DE classes this semester (Calc 2, Bio for Sci majors, French 3, Psychology) and another 3 or 4 next semester
- Recommendations will unfortunately probably be very generic. We found out at the beginning of junior year that all of his online AP classes would not be holding virtual meetings, they were all asynchronous with no teacher support. His junior year American literature teacher offered to write him a recommendation, but they only met online for 60 minutes once a week, so I’m not sure how good it can be. And it can’t really speak to one of his biggest strengths, which is his positive interactions with other people and his desire to help everybody around him do their best. He will probably ask either his Calc or Bio DE teacher for a recommendation, but it is not ideal, because if they are even willing to write it, they will not have known him for very long.
- ECs: working 20 hours a week as a home health aide for his disabled brothers, although recently it has been more like 30 hours a week. Regular involvement in a games group with friends. Strong involvement through church, including youth leadership and volunteering.
Currently planning to apply to UMaine, UMass Lowell, SUNY Oswego & Binghamton as schools he isn’t thrilled about but would be lower cost and are probably fine, possibly Lehigh or Lafayette as more expensive but potentially still affordable schools that he has some excitement for
What schools do you know of where he might get the cost under $30K/year? State universities that might be lower cost, but would have flexibility about major & opportunities for honors college to make a big school smaller? (His only environment preference is he doesn’t like total city campuses—he hated BU, but found Northeastern okay, though he prefers more suburban or rural)