Mid-sized private colleges in Northeast/Mid-Atlantic/Midwest with merit aid

Since it’s a regional school, many aren’t very familiar with TCNJ, I believe the acceptance rate was 45% this year. I think it’s a toss up between TCNJ and Rutgers NB as the top NJ public. Both are very stingy with merit, especially in state.


Just to make sure we are all on the same page, am I correct that your misgivings about southern schools are based on your perception of what suits your child not some perceived shortcoming in southern schools?

I say that because I haven’t seen anyone diminish these southern schools. It would seem any suggestions of Northeast, Midwest, Midatlantic schools vs southern schools are nothing more than answering your question.

Yes most if not all quality southern schools are drawing north easterners, not all northeastern kids are a good fit for southern schools and vice versa.

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Yes, more about cultural fit (potentially). She is applying to UGA, FSU, UofSC, Va Tech, Richmond, Tulane, Clemson and UNC, along with Wisconsin, Purdue, Miami, Indiana, Delaware, UMass, Lafayette, Rutgers, Binghamton, and TCNJ.

I know Ole Miss and Alabama would be automatic free tuition for her…just a little concerned those schools might not have a lot of kids she would have much in common with (I admit I may be 100% off base).

In her mind she would be most comfortable in the Midwest or Mid Atlantic (outside of NJ). Southern schools were my suggestion entirely. We haven’t visited any of the southern schools yet except for Tulane. She has visited a few schools in Ohio (Miami, UC, Xavier, Ohio Wesleyan), along with IU, Northwestern, Binghamton, and TCNJ.


Go Dawgs! Good luck to her and glad she is approaching this with self awareness and eyes wide open.

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Ole Miss is not Bama. Yea one to stay away from. You have TCNJ. Assuming she gets in that is your affordable. Same with FSU (which is not an easy admit). Also be aware of any Florida public 9 credit hours over summer requirement.

Clemson = no Jews. Would be like ole miss. Drawing from NE moreso but no Jews. No town. That is very rural. That’s one to scratch.

Not all on that list will get you to your $$ but several will.

So that’s a great list to me - minus Clemson.

A WVU would be similar - with Jews - and more likely to hit price.

Wisc won’t hit budget but is very nice. Maybe an Iowa, Ohio State, or Mich State instead or UVM.

But your list will get you to a great school that will meet your budget and have Jewish life.

Good luck.


You have a solid list of schools. I do recommend visiting the southern publics if possible. The big sports schools have a very different vibe from a Tulane, IMO.

Full disclosure: I attended one of the big SEC schools so I’m not knocking them at all. But in the interest of your kid finding the right fit, I strongly recommend making a visit a priority if at all possible.

And since it’s game day… Go Dawgs indeed! :heart::black_heart::football:


My very jersey girl loves Clemson. A lot of her friends there are from the northeast but she has southern friends too (plus a Jewish friend). We are Roman Catholic (live in a very Catholic area), so Christian’s, but my daughter doesn’t have any involvement with the religious organizations. She did come across an event with a lot of students and music, she assumed it was a dage and went over to investigate, but it was not a dage. Unfortunately I don’t think the merit will be what the OP is looking for. My daughter loves the weather and how nice everyone is, a very friendly place. She’s moving downtown next year to be in walking distance to bars, restaurants, campus and stadium.

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Definitely planning to visit the southern schools in the next few months. Just need to get apps in and get some acceptances. Appreciate your input!


With VA Tech, UMiami, UDel, Clemson, and Indiana on the list you might also want to look at James Madison, and WVU (as someone else mentioned above).

You’ve reiterated this a couple of times. Yes, a big college can be made to feel smaller through honors programs (if she gets in…I think she’d have a very good shot, but some have become super competitive). But a school with 35k people will still feel inherently different than a school with 5k people or 2k. I don’t think you should eliminate all of the big schools on the list. But outside of TCNJ (and she wants to leave the state) and the relative swing-for-the-fences privates, there are no smaller options on the list. This is what gives me pause.

I’ve taken your list of schools and indicated the undergrad population and the percentage from out-of-state.

State schools:

  • Binghamton: 14k undergrads, 11% out-of-state
  • Florida State: 32k undergrads, 11% out-of-state
  • Purdue: 35k undergrads, 46% out-of-state
  • Miami, OH: 16k undergrads, 35% out-of-state
  • UNC-Chapel Hill: 19k undergrads, 13% out-of-state
  • TCNJ: 7100 undergrads, 5% out-of-state
  • Rutgers: 36k undergrads, 6% out-of-state
  • Va Tech: 30k undergrads, 25% out-of-state
  • UMass: 24k undergrads, 22% out-of-state
  • South Carolina: 27k undergrads, 39% out-of-state
  • Wisconsin: 33k undergrads, 39% out-of-state
  • Delaware: 18k undergrads, 63% out-of-state

Private Schools:

  • Washington and Lee: 1800 undergrads; 83% out-of-state
  • Richmond: 3300 undergrads; 80% out-of-state
  • Lafayette: 2500 undergrads; 81% out-of-state

What about adding a school like Clark (2200 undergrads, 60% out-of-state, and about 578 Jewish students) that is likely to hit your budget numbers? If you do a search of “Clark” in this thread, you’ll get lots more info on it, as it seems to hit a lot of your daughter’s interests.

I just feel as though there are no likely schools in the small to mid-range on your list (outside of TCNJ), and since that’s been a repeated refrain of something your daughter is leaning towards, I would think about changing how your list is balanced.


I’m not sure of the source but this doesn’t look right. Rutgers has 18% OOS students.

This was the source I used: Enrollment by Residency (In-State vs. Out-of-State) – College Transitions. It appears as though the delineation is about what percentage is from out-of-state domestic rather than out-of-state from anywhere.

In looking at College Navigator (feds’ site that uses data submitted by the colleges) it lists 83% in-state, 5% out-of-state, and 11% foreign countries.


I was being a bit lazy and didn’t want to look up each school in College Navigator, but doing further research on any data shared here wouldn’t be a bad idea. Consider the above a jumping off point/rough idea instead.

Thanks for the fact-check, @DadOfJerseyGirl!


Totally agree with @AustenNut on size - and it’s beyond population. For example, UGA is just HUGE - and most need to use the bus system. I know Honors houses mid campus. Va Tech is huge - but is laid out where housing is in one place and classes are in another.

@njparent72 let’s step back on some bucket assessment you made.

Alabama and Ole Miss are not together.

Yes, both can be inexpensive - Bama with assured merit. However, Bama has approximately 1K Jewish kids and is adding every year. It would be similar to UGA in many ways - a similar # - not sure how active the Hillel is at UGA but it is at Bama. Sent you a link to Bloom Hillel the other day.

Ole Miss would be bucketed with Clemson, Auburn (not on your list), and Ms State to throw in another. I know someone wrote earlier about their child friends with a Jewish student at Clemson and I’m not saying a Jewish student cannot love Clemson, but a Jewish student cannot have a substantive Jewish life at these schools. For lack of a better word, they’re going to be one of few. My daughter loved LSU (more than Tulane) on our visit and we knew a student there but when we called the HIllel person, they said I don’t know where they got several hundred Jewish students in the Hillel guide. They said they see 5 regularly. Clemson/Ole Miss report a lot less.

So Alabama should be bucketed with UGA for Jewish life. Other similarities - they are both an hour or so from metro areas with a large Jewish population - Atlanta of course as it’s one of the biggest metro areas in the country and Birmingham. Academically speaking - UGA is rated higher. Yet Bama has more National Merit Scholars than any school nationwide. No doubt UGA is harder to get into - but it is also less geographically diverse - about 25% of UGA is OOS whereas Bama is 58% OOS. Part of that is the better merit at Bama. At UGA, you’d get zero merit, possibility 50% of the OOS differential and a small chance at 100% of the OOS portion. We got 1/2 so it was $9500 off. The other reason is UGA OOS is lower is - in GA (and Florida), they incentivize the smart kids tremendously with scholarships that no one - short of @DramaMama2021 kid leaves for college. Ok, that’s an embellishment - but not so far off.

Again, not trying to push Bama on you - and I think your list as you shown is ok - although I would remove Clemson and Wisconsin (price).

I would say - Jewish wise - U of SC is fine - but it’s a notch below. I was impressed by the menorah in admissions in November and while the Jewish count is lower (they estimate 300-500), we felt very confident talking to the HIllel person and a student. Note - they do not have an on campus Hillel director at U of SC. Purdue is similar Jewish population wise to U of SC - they do have Hillel and Chabad - I would recommend you talk to them. Purdue has a ton of kids overall on campus - but the campus as I remember from my son’s visit and week long camp - was very compact/manageable.

Looking at Va Tech (you will pay full there) and FSU - these are similar in Jewish population - and they are to the next level…several thousand Jewish students. Va Tech is gorgeous btw - just a stunning campus.

Then Indiana - gorgeous campus too but different - will have the most Jews percentage wise.

It may be too urban as you mentioned Pitt - but Charleston has a campus and the school says 800-1K Jews and my daughter goes to Hillel every Wed night and on the weekend. THey are, I believe, the only public school with a HIllel as part of the school - housed in the Jewish studies department. It’s about 10K kids - and you’d get merit and likely an invite to the Fellows Program - which is how my daughter got more merit. I’d visit Charleston rather than Clemson - if it were me - when you go South. It’s mid size and it’s very Jewish - in fact, the country’s first reform synagogue is in Charleston (didn’t know that myself).

Sorry to keep harping - but I cringe when I see a Jewish kid that wants a Jewish life mentioning Clemson - and I truly see Bama and UGA being equivalent from a Jewish life POV - and Ole Miss with Clemson - as existing with a handful of students - but that’s it.

Good luck.

Some articles to compare. You will certainly hit your $50K budget with some schools on your list - so in that sense you are set!! But - hope the insight has you swap into schools that can at least work (IMHO) - I know what it’s like to have a student who wants a Jewish life (loving Charleston) and then I have one that could care less.

Increase in Jewish Students Leads to Bloom Hillel Expansion – University of Alabama News | The University of Alabama (ua.edu)

What it’s like being Jewish at Clemson | News | thetigercu.com

UM Jewish Community (UMJC) Archives - Ole Miss News

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Thank you so much for your perspective!

It’s a strategy to get more apps. Same with no app fee. Very little merit funds and quite rejective. They also focus on yield so Tulane pores through the app to see how much interest the applicant has. A friend’s kid is going full pay with overseas fall semester.

My daughter was rejected (her only one out of 20, she applied because it was free and she was chasing merit).

We have kids in TN rejected Tulane and in at Vandy. Tulane is beyond clear that DI matters…a lot.

I only know one kid who went…full pay.

A Vandy or WUSTL might give better odds in aid bcuz they have hundreds of scholarships through the Ingram and Danforth Scholarships. U Miami gives a lot of kids merit - typically $25k and U Denver $30k….or at least two years ago. My daughter got from both.

I don’t think I’ve seen U of Rochester mentioned? Seems a good one to consider – mid-size-ish (11K) gives merit, smaller city setting, strong in sciences, open curriculum like Brown. The Your College Bound Kid podcast did a nice profile of it recently - at the end of this episode

The OP’s daughter has a solid chance at merit from UConn and UMass with that application and as a bio major. UConn has an outstanding biology program.

Most of the schools on your list are not going to provide big merit, and even UConn would likely be modest. URI and Vermont are two schools that will really step up with merit aid, and URI is in a great location, just a few miles from the beach.

She might want to look at Case Western Reserve. It is a solid school (USNWR #44 overall, #13 biomed) with 5,800 students. Cleveland jokes aside, the campus is nice and in a good neighborhood. They gave my son merit aid of $26,000 with his acceptance notice, without any special aid applications. Your daughter’s academic stats would likely earn her a large merit award.

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