Parents and students concerned with financial aid, please read


What is with the constant and ridiculous “hierarching” of undergraduate education… as if one size fits all in every situation. This strikes me as so small-minded and inflexible.

As you point out, Pomona and Columbia do not offer a business degree. So, yes, I guess NYU is not in “their league” for that degree…it’s in a BETTER league if you are looking for that particular degree.

Pomona is in a small town and NYU is in a large city…so if you are looking for the big city experience then Pomona isn’t in NYU’s league there, either.

NYU has a film school that is second to none … And Columbia and Pomona aren’t a part of that “league” either.

“Fit” is a very personal and fluid concept. There are actually -gasp- even public state colleges that can provide a better undergraduate education in particular cases than Pomona or Columbia or NYU (pre-med situations or engineering or needing to be close to family or affordability if you aren’t needy, etc etc). “Education” involves much more than which college hires the most famous professors or which makes your neighbor exclaim admiringly over its name. A good education in my book is an affordable one, and neither Columbia or Pomona offer merit aid if that’s part of somebody’s criteria. And most of all, a “good education” involves much more than picking the one with the highest USNWR/Forbes/fill-in-the-blank ranking.

So why make such a snarky and unnecessary comment about this school or that school not being in another school’s “league?” Did your child get rejected from NYU, or perhaps get an FA package not to his/her liking? I find that those are the two predominant reasons why parents find it necessary to criticize NYU so bitterly.

People choose colleges for many, many reasons. The fact is, more students hope to be chosen every year by NYU than by Columbia or Pomona, judging by the numbers of applications these colleges receive. Are all of these applicants that stupid and uninformed? Come on. Guess what-my son chose NYU over one of those other two colleges you named. And we couldn’t be happier. It was 1000% the right decision. And, he is receiving an excellent education, with a competitive internship offer already in hand for the summer.

The truth is, every college is unique, offering certain things that are appealing to certain applicants. Comparing Columbia to Pomona, or Pomona to NYU, or NYU to Columbia, etc etc is comparing apples to oranges in many cases. They are all fine schools and I know a handful of kids at each of them. So while it is helpful to compare them in a meaningful way (i.e., NYU provides less reliable FA but it has a better film school) or (NYC is in a large exciting city, but Pomona is in a charming small town), it is not useful or even accurate to state that one provides a better undergraduate education than the other. Are YOU the judge of “better?” What makes you a better judge than me?

Edit: ok, I refrained but I can’t resist. My son was accepted to Middlebury too- and turned it down for NYU. But you don’t hear me bashing Middlebury … And you won’t. It’s a fine college. Just not my son’s cup of tea. Get it?

Fair point. Of course none of us have been everywhere so we all rely in part on limited observation, reputation and word of mouth. In my case at least, also on the advice of college counselors too.

On that basis, it’s my general impression that NYU is really good at the grad school level but not as good or as focused on undergraduates. Sounds like you have a different experience. I am pretty confident that Columbia and especially Pomona are.

NYU is a place I think of for graduate school. Not so much undergrads. Right or wrong you won’t find that view to be unique to me.

Yes of course the setting of NYC is a significant positive factor.

No none of my kids applied to or were interested in NYU.

Finally while I understand you’re upset at my post because of your personal connection to NYU, your comment about who is to judge is a bit naive in my view. We all do that. You more or less acknowledged you judge too. So what makes me a better judge than you you ask? The same thing that makes you think you’re a better judge than me. Come on now. That’s what we all do. My opinion your opinion. Pretty straight forward.

This topic is about NYU’s FA policies - so we are digressing here.

But just to add my perspective, one of my buddies got an MBA from Stern and he robbed the cradle i.e. his gf now wife of almost 20 years if i am calculating correctly was an undergrad student at NYU while he was there. When my daughter was choosing schools, I promptly called them to ask about NYU. @MiddleburyDad2 is kind of stating the impression I was left with as well. Great B-school and the undergraduate program is decent but no one would choose them over an Ivy or a top LAC like Pomona/Williams etc unless being in NYC is more important than academic standards. It’s location is phenomenal and that is why just like USC, Scripps and Pitzer in and near LA - NYU has a lower acceptance rate than purely academic standards might imply. It is not a bad school, its decent but just not a great one at the undergraduate level.

NYU does not do much good to their reputation by not chasing academic excellence through a need based FA system. Great private universities do not offer merit aid. They only offer need based financial aid. Period. Great private universities are need blind in admissions and are 100% need met in FA. This is my observation.


So, let me get this straight. You spoke to a buddy and his wife who went to NYU 20 years ago and thereon formed an impression of the academic worthiness of the entire university? LOL.

“No one?” Not one person? Are you actually saying that if somebody chooses NYU over an Ivy or “top” LAC, they care more about living in NYC than about academics? Wow. I guess you are saying that my son and many of his buddies at NYU, who made this very choice, were not academically motivated, or maybe cared more about the NYC lifestyle than about academics. This is as insulting as it is incorrect.

I love the way you also manage to insult students at USC, Scripps and Pitzer, whose students apparently chose those colleges mainly because they are near LA. My kids have many friends attending, and who attended in the past, USC, Scripps and Pitzer…in some cases over other “top” LACs and even ivies. They chose these schools for more reasons than one small mind can contemplate, but I assure you they were academically motivated.

Re: NYU’s FA, yup, it’s not great for everyone, although it can be spectacular for some and yes there is merit aid. But here you puzzle me:

Do you count athletic scholarships in your “no merit aid” criteria for a great university (Stanford)? Did you know that Claremont McKenna offers merit aid (a “top” LAC)? Does University of Chicago meet your criteria as a “great private university?” What about Johns Hopkins? Duke? They all offer merit aid. Is your definition of “great private university” so narrow that it includes only ivies and a handful of other privates that don’t offer merit aid? Perhaps your definition is indeed that narrow; but please understand that this is your OPINION, and one that - thankfully - is not universally shared. And one that I, for one, strongly disagree with. There are many families out there who cannot comfortably afford (or do not want to pay for) a “need based financial aid only” college and therefore choose one of the many excellent colleges out there that provide generous MERIT aid to high achieving students who, yes, care deeply about their academic experience.

And, yes, @Middleburydad2, we all have our opinions. Of course we do. It’s just that some of us express these opinions as OPINIONS rather than statements of absolute universal fact, and some of us try not to insult other colleges and students while expressing them.

@prospect1, wow. you are really taking this personally.

  1. If you're going to hold people to high and ridiculously exacting standards, meet them yourself. The people at USC, and probably UCLA, may well hold a view that departs from "factual" statement that NYU film is second to none. Who are you to judge? What do you know about film? Are you in the business? Do you hire from these schools? Etc. etc. etc. See how that works? Got it?
  2. A lot of universities and colleges that are need blind and represent themselves as using all their $ on need-based aid nonetheless do offer some merit-aid. I don't know why, but that's the case. It's almost always a tiny fraction of financial aid-based spending overall, and the schools you cite, other than CMC, are so loaded with money that it probably doesn't matter. I'm going to limit my comments here because I'm not an expert in financial aid. And for better or for worse, the only money my kids have ever been given were through merit-based private scholarships. But it's worth mentioning two things: (1) the goal or practice of dedicating all, or substantially all, of one's financial resources to make education accessible to the best and brightest regardless of the accident of the financial situation into which they were born is laudable, and there is criticism among peer institutions for those who don't follow that practice (at the consortium, it is a debated point between Pomona and CMC stakeholders); and (2) the real issue here with NYU isn't their intent but rather their limited resources - NYU enrolls a lot of students and maintains a relatively small endowment. It it what it is. For me, it makes more sense to NOT give my kid (the one at Pomona), who scored very high on the ACT, merit money that could be used to finance the attendance of another really smart and deserving kid who can't be there without the help. My kid was going either way because I can afford it. Why on earth give MY kid help he/she doesn't need? Seems an obvious point to me. You use the word "comfortably" so casually; the kid whose parents make $85,000 a year simply will not be able to attend, comfortably or uncomfortably. So, no, I don't give a damn about what families can do "comfortably" while so many can't do it at all. Most forward-thinking schools take my side of that argument.
  3. Your comment about Stanford was, at best, a strawman. The role and benefits of big-time athletics is its own forum. And, further to my point in #2, they have so much damn money it doesn't matter. You picked the school for your example that just re-set the bar in this category. Now, if your family makes less than $125k, you go to Stanford for free, period. Who else does that?
  4. I'm sure @khanam didn't mean to make an absolute categorical statement. But where do you stop on the absolutes my friend? So I know a guy who chose Pacific Lutheran University over Princeton (recruited for football) for his own reasons, and he was clearly focused on academics as a CS major. So, yeah, things like that happen. But it's the exception to the rule, as I'm sure you know. Sure, there's a bigger "gap" between PLU and Princeton than, say, NYU and Columbia. But once you acknowledge that, then you implicitly acknowledge what I and @khanam were pointing out: that people see these schools in a relative pecking order. And so, again, I stand by my statement, however imperfectly researched it is: generally speaking, a kid would attend Columbia over NYU for undergrad given the choice. I'll bet, though again I've not conducted a study, that the % who have the choice and who choose Columbia is pretty overwhelming. I stand to be corrected.
  5. I've gone back and looked at my post. I think you're overreacting.

Man, and people say I can be condescending.


If you have been on CC for long (I have) you have run across these kinds of threads all the time: is such and such a school “better” than this other one? Should I choose X over Y? Knowing so very little about the students/parents posting these questions, many of us try to prod for more information so that we can offer whatever insight we have to help people make decisions that are the best for them. One student’s choice will invariably be different than another student’s choice. There are infinite factors to consider, and we can’t pretend to know all of them.

Such is the world of CC.

Whenever I see such threads, I try to be as helpful as I can, having put several kids through college and having volunteered in urban programs doing their best to identify and assist the truly impoverished into college. In my opinion, it is poor advice to make blanket statements that one college will always be better than another regardless of major, finances, career goals, family situation, etc. There are too many factors to consider.

That is why I take such offense when parents make sweeping generalizations about colleges that their kids don’t even attend - and in your case, didn’t even apply to. (I understand these types of statements from kids, who don’t always take multiple factors into consideration). There are just too many factors that go into these decisions. One of my kids scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and never had a B in his life…his college choice would probably shock you. So what? There are so many excellent reasons people choose colleges over ivies and the like.

Actually, @khanam did make an absolute, categorical statement, whether he/she intended to or not. You are probably right that many do see a “pecking order” between various colleges, rightly or wrongly, but that’s exactly my point. We are not contributing to the conversation by rubber stamping a pecking order that isn’t necessarily true in all cases. Far better to address the specifics of situations, when possible, to direct students and families to the right choice for them.

Re: FA, there are perennially threads from stellar, tippy top students who did not get good packages from “100% need met” colleges and therefore chose colleges offering better merit aid. If you look at the percentage of Pell Grant students at ivies, (perhaps the best marker of “need”), you will see that the ivies have a fairly poor record of enrolling such students. One could conclude that they really are not meeting their lofty goal of “attracting the best and the brightest” regardless of need. Indeed, there is a large body of opinion that to develop the hooks needed to gain admission at such colleges, it takes a fair amount of family resources. I don’t necessarily hold that opinion myself, but it is out there and I acknowledge it. I really believe that most US universities are trying their best to attract the best and the brightest, and are using their resources to accomplish this.

And re: NYU’s film school, I 100% agree that USC and UCLA have great/better/lesser/equal film schools, along with Chapman, Cal Arts, LMU, and actually many others. I personally would not count Columbia or Pomona among them, and that was the point I intended to make, but I agree my point was not artfully articulated. That said, I would be the very first to recommend Pomona or Columbia to a film student if all data points made those colleges a perfect fit.

Anyway, these last few posts really do not belong in this thread. Perhaps a new thread could be started. Mods?

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well, you have your style and I have mine. I think if NYU hadn’t been part of the discussion I probably wouldn’t have heard from you in any event.

look, the idea that schools have to be a 100% fit and that we should ask every inquiring kid 1,000 questions to make sure we precisely tailor our advice about where they attend is not something I myself believe. Like you, I’ve been to the rodeo. I know from experience than no matter how hard you try, there are going to be things that work and don’t work at every school for every kid. They often change their majors and interests, they get tired of a place, relationships don’t work, they under or over estimated this that or the other thing.

You try and get it right best you can with the big questions: urban, rural or don’t care? small, middle or big? sports or no sports? Greek life? General academic fit. is a robust art scene important? So, sure, you try and make a rough cut at it. You try and spot the kid who clearly will be happy at Ohio State or Texas A&M who is curiously applying to Sarah Lawrence as well and advise them that maybe Sarah Lawrence isn’t their cup of tea.

But beyond that, you’re kidding yourself if you think you can steer people to the right place with any real degree of consistent success. That’s my view anyway.

Given that, and for me it is a given, generally you go to the most highly regarded school you can get into, all else being equal (which is usually not the case). I’m just being honest about a point of view that I think is shared by a great many people, many of whom participate in this forum.

If you want to study undergrad business, go to film school, or study dance, then NYU probably makes sense. For most other undergraduate pursuits, I think Columbia is the better choice. Pomona is a different animal altogether, so I’ll leave that one out of this discussion. Columbia has more money, is viewed as being the more prominent school by most people, has a real campus and despite its many fabulous graduate and professional schools is well known for its undergraduate instruction and programs - it’s not my impression that NYU is known for that. Again, I don’t think I know too many people who’d turn down Columbia for NYU at the undergrad level. Law and grad business school, much different discussion. Film school … not even close in favor of NYU.

What are your other options?

How does Fordham’s aid compare with NYU?

I am not sure if this option is offered.