Out of the blue: Need more financial safeties! Help please?

<p>I would really appreciate any advice! I was recently told to reevaluate my entire college list and find more financial safeties. My parents do not want to take 200,000+ out of their savings (especially with another child on deck) for a college they don't "recognize" (ie: small liberal arts colleges). The most they would be willing to pay is 20,000 per year for a college like Bowdoin (because I can get a "similar" education at a well known UC). </p>

<p>Basic Financial Stats: </p>

<p>Family size: 4
Children in college: Just me
Income: $170,000
House: Newly purchased (cost: 1 million)
Savings: 200,000 - 300,000</p>

<p>Looking at all this, I would expect that I would not receive any need-based aid. Should I bother even applying for it? </p>

<p>However, my parents have made it clear that while they will pay for my top two choices, they do not want to pay for a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere (eg: Grinnell or Carleton) when I could just go to a UC. </p>

<p>They want half of my list to be of colleges that they actually recognize (eg: Ivies or big public U's) or colleges that will give me good financial/merit aid. So my question is, how do I begin this search of financial safeties? Assuming that I don't qualify for financial aid, which schools will give me good merit aid?</p>

<p>My quick stats:</p>

<p>ACT: 36
PSAT: 230+
Rank: top 2%</p>

<p>Thank you for your help :)</p>

<p>With your stats, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of good LACs that would throw lots of money at you. </p>

<p>Or consider Michigan State, where you would qualify for a full ride plus paid assistantship.</p>

<p>Are you a National Merit Finalist? If so, there's a section on this website that shows where you can get full rides.</p>

<p>definitely look for a full ride school (i am guessing you are an nmf).. fully paid is a good way to go</p>

<p>you will likely make NMF so you have other choices...</p>

<p>What is your intended major?</p>

<p>As a parent, whose primary goal in life is the welfare of his only son, I just wanted to say that the fact your parents just bought a $1,000,000 home when their kids are about ready to go to college is very disappointing.</p>

<p>I just got done reading a book about John and Abigail Adams, where it was noted that their financial resources were invested in their son, John Quincy Adams. They recognized that he was brilliant, at an early age, and made HIS success their vocation.</p>

<p>Without getting too melodramatic, your parents' actions, in my opinion, reflects poorly on the state of affairs in this country. </p>

<p>I hope that when YOU marry and have kids, that you will put the welfare of your kids first.</p>

<p>With a 36 ACT, it would seem to me that you are well worth investing in.</p>

<p>Thanks for all the suggestions! Unless my grades tank, I'm assuming I'll make NMF (I think 80-90% of Semi-Finalists make it). I researched USC and it seems like they offer a good amount of merit scholarships so I'll apply there. <a href="http://www.usc.edu/admission/undergraduate/private/1112/uscScholarships1213v2.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.usc.edu/admission/undergraduate/private/1112/uscScholarships1213v2.pdf&lt;/a> </p>

<p>@annasdad: Top liberal arts colleges don't offer merit aid, and the colleges that would give me a lot of merit aid probably wouldn't be enough (even if it was half-tuition). I'll keep looking though! And thanks for the suggestion about Michigan State, it looks very competitive (15 students), but we shall see.</p>

<p>@Kangrui, parent56: I found this list by googling "National Merit Full Scholarship Opportunities" (as well as the thread on CC) and I'll probably apply to one of the full rides as a back up!</p>

<p>@mom2collegekids: I'm undecided right now, but I will probably go into either English or Biology. </p>

<p>Quick question: should I even bother checking the box for financial aid when applying for colleges? I doubt I'll receive any financial aid and even if colleges are "need-blind", I don't want it to hurt me.</p>

<p>@floridadad55: I think my parents would feel the same way about college expenses (in terms of me going to a small liberal arts college) with or without the new house. They've hinted at it in the past and only recently told me directly even after I asked them about our financial situation. </p>

<p>I think if I absolutely fell in love with a "non well-known" college, they would support me, but I want to be on the safe side and apply to schools that I can fall back on.</p>

<p>Many very good LACs DO offer merit aid. You can get just as good an education at a LAC that offers merit aid as you can at one of the tiny handful that don't. And you can certainly get as good an education at a Lafayette or Gettysburg or Wittenberg or Beloit as you can at any state university.</p>

<p>*I'm undecided right now, but I will probably go into either English or Biology. </p>

<p>*</p>

<p>Do you have a career in mind? </p>

<p>At some schools, if you have some AP credits, then you could double major in both of your choices. :)</p>

<p>@annasdad: You're right. I researched a bit more and found plenty of good LACs that offer merit aid and they seem great! I'm glad you put them under my radar. Now my only problem is convincing my parents that these colleges actually do exist :P</p>

<p>My conundrum is just that "recognizable" colleges (aka top 20) don't offer merit aid that isn't insanely competitive. The best thing I can do right is just to cast my net as wide as I can. </p>

<p>@mom2collegekids: No, I'm very very undecided haha. Which is why I'm trying to avoid pre-professional colleges. Although a double major in English and Biology sounds killer, it's something I would definitely be interested in :)</p>

<p>*I'm very very undecided haha. Which is why I'm trying to avoid pre-professional colleges. Although a double major in English and Biology sounds killer, it's something I would definitely be interested in *</p>

<p>Well, depending on what you eventually think you might want for a career, you could decide to do one as a minor. </p>

<p>Do you see yourself as pursuing some kind of medical career? Outside of the healthcare system, research, or teaching bio, a bio degree can be rather limiting. </p>

<p>What do your parents have against LACs? Is it because they haven't heard of many?</p>

<p>OP, if you are NMF, you WILL get 1/2 tuition for all 4 years at USC. Being a top student, you have a REAL chance at winning one of 200 FULL TUITION scholarships at USC, simply by completing your application there before Dec 1. Be SURE to go to the scholarship interviews if offered the chance to do so in Feb, as that is a requirement for a full tuition scholarship.</p>

<p>
[quote]
As a parent, whose primary goal in life is the welfare of his only son, I just wanted to say that the fact your parents just bought a $1,000,000 home when their kids are about ready to go to college is very disappointing.</p>

<p>I just got done reading a book about John and Abigail Adams, where it was noted that their financial resources were invested in their son, John Quincy Adams. They recognized that he was brilliant, at an early age, and made HIS success their vocation.</p>

<p>Without getting too melodramatic, your parents' actions, in my opinion, reflects poorly on the state of affairs in this country.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I don't want to hijack this thread, but as a parent who has saved and saved and saved my entire married life, I find this really offensive. My husband and I have always lived within our means as we were sent around the world for his military career. Then our first child, a brilliant kid, got into her top choice schools and because we have saved, worked hard, and have a military retirement check we get to pay the entire bill for college. Lucky us. We are also lucky that brilliant child also followed the money to a fine public university that is consistently ranked high. I do not feel as though I am being selfish and not investing in my darling daughter because she is at a top-fifty public on a great scholarship versus being full pay at a top-ten private university. Oh, and by the way, how parents spend their money is their business. It is their money and the kids should benefit some day.</p>

<p>Anyway, the OP should have lots of choices. She should be able to get money from lots of different colleges--both OOS publics and LACs. Also, some of the Ivy League schools offer financial aid for families earning up to $180k a year, so perhaps the OP's parents are absolutely brilliant and have put their money into a house, so they are eligible for FA $$.</p>

<p>MD mom - as you said, it is not our business how a parent spends their money. But, it's fair to state an opinion when you have different priorities. I'm a bit confused as to how someone can afford a million dollar home with $170K of income. It seems to me you would have very little money to live on and even a public would be difficult to afford.</p>

<p>To the OP. You sound a lot like my daughter who had lots of opportunities. You are absolutely right, cast your net wide and choose some financial safeties. She is going to a private LAC and we are fortunate to be able to send her. But, we did give her a budget as to how much we would pay per year. Ask you parents what the budget is.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I'm a bit confused as to how someone can afford a million dollar home with $170K of income.

[/quote]
The OP apparently lives in California (given the UC reference)... I don't think you quite understand what California homes cost, even with the downturn in real estate. Also, he OP didn't offer any information about what went into the home purchase -- perhaps the parents used the proceeds of sale of their former home to finance the new one. There are some other things that come into the picture in California re property taxes as well, which would impact homebuying decisions for the over-55 crowd. </p>

<p>As to the original sentiment, leaving aside the 'well known' bit, I think it is reasonable for a California parent to take the position that they are not willing to pay more than the cost of attending a UC for any private institution, short of a top 10 or an Ivy. I mean, its easy to make an argument as to why Harvard might be better than Berkeley... a lot harder to make that same argument about Grinnell. It's not that there's anything wrong with Grinnell, it's just that the availability of Berkeley/UCLA for in-state tuition sets a relatively high bar when it comes to the price a parent is willing or able to pay for college. </p>

<p>Yes there is a qualitative difference with a LAC (smaller classes, etc.), but it also comes at a cost (fewer resources, etc.) -- so when you are doing a cost/benefit analysis, I think it is perfectly reasonable for any parent to tell their kid that the college budget is on a par with the costs of the in-state university, especially for parents who live in states with strong university systems. </p>

<p>I would commend the OP for a positive attitude an the parents for being direct about their feelings and budget. The OP obviously has the stats to support an array of good choices, and it will be a win-win situation if the OP gets merit money at a high quality LAC.</p>

<p>The problem with those small LAC's in out-of-the-way places is that it can be devastating to the kid who realizes after enrollment that they have made the wrong choice, and feels isolated in a community that turns out in hindsight to be a poor fit. So that is also a factor to be considered in putting a price on the education.</p>

<p>I would not sit in judgment on how another parent chooses to spend their money. I can say, however, that like parent1986, my chief financial goal is making sure my two children get the best education I can afford; for me that means postponing retirement and scrimping on everything else. I signed on for that when I decided to have children in midlife. But different people have different values, and just because someone else's do not match mine does not necessarily mean mine are better.</p>

<p>@menloparkmom: I had no idea my chances were that high at getting a merit scholarship at USC! Thank you so much. I'll definitely make sure to get my application in early.</p>

<p>@GTalum: Like calmom stated, house prices in California (especially the Bay Area) are quite high! A million dollar purchase bought only a 3 bedroom, single floor house. As for affording it, it's something my parents have been saving up for over a decade and they get extra money from stocks every year. </p>

<p>But honestly, I'm worried about my parents paying full ride and not having enough for their retirement fund or my brother's college fund. That and the fact that they do not want to pay full price for half the colleges on my list (ie: Grinnell, Bowdoin, Whitman) drive my search for a more affordable option.</p>

<p>@MDMom: It's true that I am now "better" qualified for financial aid because of the new house (at least for HYP), but it's also true that now there is less left to pay for college without financial aid. I'm applying to one or two Ivies though so we'll see :/</p>

<p>@calmom: I think you described my parents' sentiments perfectly. They understand (kinda) that I would much prefer a smaller academic environment, but they don't see the need to pay 2x the amount so I can go to Iowa. Which makes sense I suppose, taking into account our financial situation.</p>

<p>I've been researching, and another unfortunate issue with the small LACs that will offer me good merit aid is that they generally have terrible diversity. Growing up in the Bay Area, diversity has become really important to me and I would feel a bit stifled if I went to a school with an 80% majority. I'll keep researching I suppose!</p>

<p>Thank you for all of your help! It's really helping me get started on expanding my college list :)</p>

<p>* I'm a bit confused as to how someone can afford a million dollar home with $170K of income. It seems to me you would have very little money to live on and even a public would be difficult to afford.</p>

<p>*</p>

<p>I think you're assuming that most of that is in mortgage. It probably isn't. </p>

<p>this student has UC options...likely would get accepted to UCLA or Cal, so the parents may feel that those options are certainly good enough. As mentioned above, the student would likely get into USC with at least half tuition scholarship. </p>

<p>This student would also likely get a lot of money from Santa Clara. </p>

<p>any of those choices (along with some others) would certainly not hurt this student's future potential. If this student will be going to grad/prof school, then ultimately his undergrad will be less important.</p>

<p>@mom2collegekids: Thank you for your continued advice! My parents have told me the same thing about a bio degree. I don't see myself in the medical field or going to med school, but maybe that will change? But currently, I'm finding myself thinking more and more about becoming a teacher. </p>

<p>And my parents haven't heard of any LACs aside from Pomona. They're worried about my job prospects and think I would have a much better chance at a more well-known school like UCLA (in terms of both connections, location, and prestige) than a school like Whitman.</p>

<p>And yes, we paid for the house in cash so my parents don't have to worry about paying back decade-long loans (but I'm far from knowledgeable on this topic so I may be misguided).</p>

<p>Also, thanks for the mention of SCU! I wasn't aware they offered merit scholarships. It is now on my list.</p>