My D is an sophomore EE major at University of Central Florida and it is a great fit for her. She has similar stats to your S except not an NMS. She has 2 roommates who are NMS and I believe their tuition/room/board is paid for by UCF scholarships. I don’t know if UCF is still that generous with NMS, but maybe worth checking into. There are internship opportunities available in the area including NASA, Lockheed Martin and the amusement parks. If he enjoys following football (my D does not) UCF joins the Big 12 next year.
I see UCF as a affordable potential fit for your s and his interests if he would be interested in going out of state.
I think what people are trying to say is that for a student interested in engineering or CS, it’s completely unnecessary to borrow money or go in debt for a college education. You have a very strong student who is likely to see merit money at some of the schools previously mentioned.
These career fields are very egalitarian in that starting salaries are going to be very similar regardless of undergraduate university. My D has friends in engineering at all kinds of schools from small regional schools no one talks about to schools like Georgia Tech - their offers are all within $5k/year of each other.
Only you can determine if this is a financially sound decision for your FAMILY…ad yes I am yelling…because this decision isn’t just about your students college costs. It’s about your family financials.
Figure out how much you need to borrow. Then calculate the repayment amount. Right now, start putting that amount in a separate bank account. See if that is sustainable.
Congratulations to your son on all of his accomplishments! He should be very proud of his record, and it is obvious he gets a lot of support and encouragement from his family.
Because he is a National Merit Finalist, there are good schools that would be thrilled to have him attend and will pay for tuition, room, and board for him…a full ride! Getting to go to college for free is amazing (and they will frequently supplement the free education with special opportunities for research, special events, etc once the student arrives on campus). Schools that will be essentially free (you would probably need to pay for books and transportation back home). These websites can give you some ideas:
The schools on these lists would be safeties (extremely likely to be admitted and affordable).
Whatever school he attends, you want to make sure it is ABET-accredited. If he decides he wants to go into engineering, that is a requirement for most professional engineers. You can look up whether a school is ABET-accredited (and for which fields) here.
Your son is very blessed that you are willing to do anything you can to support him, including going into debt. Going into debt, however, is not necessary. As shown above, there are many schools where he can go for free. Also, having debt can impact what you can pay for yourself and any other family members, as well as impacting your retirement. Nobody will give you a loan for you to be able to retire; it is generally best to limit debt as much as possible.
If you are eligible for a Pell Grant, then you are going to also want to take a close look at schools that meet financial need (as the school defines it). Schools don’t calculate a family’s need the same way, so you will need to fill out the Net Price Calculator for each school you’re considering.
With your son’s interests, I would take a close look at Harvey Mudd. It is need blind and meets the full need of its students. It’s got very strong computer science and engineering programs, but it also has liberal arts requirements so your son can continue with history and economics. It’s also part of the Claremont Consortium, so he can take classes at any of the 4 other colleges in the consortium. Run Harvey Mudd’s Net Price Calculator and see how much it would cost your family. Then think about, is that price affordable for your family? Can you pay for it without taking out any loans? Often some of the most competitive schools (for admissions) can be very affordable for families with low incomes. Take a look and let us know how things turn out.
If you can afford $80K per year, you will NOT be eligible for a CalGrant.
If you are low income, however, then you should apply for a CalGrant. Please note that the CalGrants can only be used at a California university. The CalGrants are funded by the State of California for universities in the State.
I would not recommend that you take out a loan for $80K per year because your family will suffer financially if you cannot afford it.
If you think you can borrow $80K per year, and your income and collateral do not match, then you will have a problem because the banks and loan companies will only loan you enough money to cover how much your property/collateral can bring when sold.
The first and second year, you might get a loan. The third year, you may be rejected because you wont have enough “assets” to cover the loan. Your son wont be able to finish his degree because you will not be able to borrow more money.
With CS, it does NOT matter WHERE your son goes to school. Trying to get into a top school wont change his income. But if you want to brag about where your son got in, then that’s where you will pay lots of dollars for a piece of paper. No one cares where you go to school except the parents. The job is exactly the same job.
What about CalPoly SLO? It is likely more affordable and is well regarded.
I do think this student can apply to some reachy schools…as long as they have at least one affordable sure thing in their application list. As a national merit finalist, he should be able to find more than one affordable college.
Cal Poly SLO offers all majors of interest but not a sure thing if your student is interested in Aerospace Engineering (13% projected acceptance rate) or Economics (19% projected acceptance rate) or Math (35% projected acceptance rate). History however has around a 53% projected acceptance rate.
All Cal States admit into the major so if Econ or Aerospace Engineering is not selected originally, changing majors is not guaranteed.
The majority of the Cal states would affordable, but a sure thing is usually the local in-service area Cal State.
Cal Poly SLO has offered NM scholarships through their Cal Poly Scholars program so it might be a good option.
However, aerospace electives may be offered in schools with mechanical engineering even if they do not have a standalone aerospace engineering program.
Electrical engineering is a common major at colleges with engineering. Computer science is a common major, but often much more selective for admission. It is also often difficult to change into after enrolling at a college in a different major.
Math, economics, and history can have varying emphases at different schools. For a student aiming for research type goals in liberal arts majors like these, UCs may be a better fit than CSUs. UCs tend to have a higher math emphasis in economics.
Please do the financial planning to figure out what you can afford to pay without taking parent loans. Then use the net price calculator on each college’s web site to check if financial aid is likely to make it affordable.