Match me with affordable schools for CS!

Hello!! I’m a rising senior looking for schools that I will be able to pay for without financial aid as well as schools that are a good fit!!

What I’m looking for in a school:

  • Good merit scholarships that I’d most likely qualify for and/or affordable tuition
  • Ideally warm/mild weather
  • good for my major (Computer Science w a focus in AI)
  • Not huge but not tiny (maybe between 8-20,000 students?? flexible on that tho)
  • looking for a really supportive community feel/really nice people. this part is super important to me. also a good alumni network would be really nice

Okay, here are my stats:


  • State/Location of residency: Wisconsin
  • Type of high school: competitive public
  • Gender/Race/Ethnicity: White female
  • Other special factors: N/A

Intended Major(s)
Computer Science (not entirely sure on career goals yet, I just love tech & CS. I am very interested in AI though)

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 3.9
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.4 (we weight AP’s but not honors)
  • Class Rank: school doesn’t rank, but I’d estimate top 10% at least
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 34 composite on ACT

AP HuG (4)
AP Gov (3)
AP Psych (5)
AP Comp Sci A (predict 4)
AP Comp Sci Principles (predict 4)

AP Calc BC (honestly no idea how I did, pretty sure I at least got a 3 but who knows)

AP USH (predict 3)
AP Lang (predict 3)

Senior yr course load:
AP Physics C
AP French
AP Econ
AP Lit
Calc 3/linear algebra


  • NCWIT women in computing state winner
  • Super small engineering competition winner in freshman year: designed a crosswalk in my town (a lot more goes into putting in a crosswalk than you’d think lol)
  • NHS
  • AP Scholar

Cross Country (3 yrs)

  • active member
  • i’ll probably run the instagram page for it this year lol

Debate (2 yrs)

  • active member
  • qualified for the State competition in 2020
  • our coach quit so i won’t be able to do it senior year - might not put on my final apps just bc i wasn’t very dedicated and i think it might look like i was only doing it to pad my resume

Best Buddies (2 yrs)

  • active member
  • selected for leadership board, was one of 4 people in the club to help plan and lead meetings

Destination Imagination (8 yrs)

  • Team Co-Captain
  • Qualified for States 3 times
  • Competed at Global Finals twice
  • Created a DI team for students with special needs to compete on

Student-Athlete Leadership Council (2 years)

  • active member
  • led discussions about making good choices for middle schoolers

Part-time job (2 years)

  • helped build the pet store i work at, often put in charge of customer service/register/etc
  • assisted family business: my dad owns apartments and I often help him process rent checks/do taxes etc (not sure if i should put this on my apps)

Community Service

  • 200+ hours working with kids with special needs


  • extensive knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • created several personal websites from scratch
  • participated in a hackathon

Summer Programs

  • Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Camp (2020)
  • Notre Dame Summer Scholars: Computing Track (2021)


  • self-taught at photography
  • self-taught at photoshop


LOR 1: From my Calc BC teacher. Should be pretty good, he likes me and has seen me struggle (that class is super hard lol) but has also seen some of my personality.

LOR 2: From my AP CSA teacher, he doesn’t know me too well personally but will definitely attest to my talent in CS and he likes me well enough.

Essays: I’m a good writer, they probably won’t be anything mind blowing but they’ll be pretty good. Maybe a 7/10.

Cost Constraints / Budget
Okay here’s the problem. Since my dad owns real estate as his job, we have a lot of money in assets so we will probably get essentially zero financial aid. We’ve run the NPC’s at some schools (Notre Dame, Pomona, etc) and are full pay at all of them which would really be a lot, especially for a CS degree which is very employable from almost any school imo.

So I am really looking for schools that will be affordable without financial aid. Ideally 45k/year or less, and with UW Madison being such a great school for probably 11k/year for me in-state, it would really have to be an amazing school to justify paying more. (Although I will say UW Madison is not much of a fit for me socially, so it may be worth it to spend a little extra money to enjoy it more).

Any ideas for schools?

If you are able to get into some sort of honors program at UW-Madison, then you may find that there will be more of a social fit with the members of the smaller tribe that you are part of. I wouldn’t worry too much about social fit at this point.

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You can make a big school small so in that realm I include a few biggies

Bama. Ms state. Arkansas. South Carolina. Minnesota. Wisconsin. Arizona and Arizona State. Delaware. Case Western. Florida Tech. Miami. RPI. Purdue WPI. Lehigh Miami. Pitt. Florida State. UAH

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Beating UWisconsin for CS is going to be tough. It’s topnotch and nationally ranked.
UMD CP gives it a run for its money and they are good with merit, it’s warmer than WI (although notSouth, winters are shorter and milder and Fall/Spring longer), close to DC and all the nearby resources for internships.
Case Western? Tufts (excellent for collaborative CS?)

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Bama, South Carolina, and UAH will definitely give scholarship money; Purdue will be a tougher nut to crack in that regard. I don’t know about the others.

Purdue’s COA for OOS is still “only” around $40-42K (depending on dorm type) and I believe this students said they were looking to stay under $45K/year. UMD CP would also fit the budget.

RPI, with merit, should be there too.

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@dolewhip1 MSOE? Have you tried MSOE?

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This is why I mentioned Purdue - yes it’s big - but again you can make a big school small. UTK is another. My son got 10K from Purdue for MECHE. Ended at Bama. But Purdue, while not easy, does have $$.

You can try Texas State University. They offer excellent scholarships for top students. The weather is great. It’s built right on the San Marcos river, which is a student swimming hot spot in the summer. The social scene is second to none.

As far as computer science, the university is located directly between Austin and San Antonio, which are the two hottest tech hubs in the country. The only downside is the hills. Everything is either uphill or downhill. Bring walking shoes.

What in particular is not a good social fit for you? Are the people there not supportive or nice?

Have u considered schools such as UWM or UWGB Or other branch campuses