Please Chance My Son - Rising Maryland Senior, 4.0/1600 SAT for Aerospace Engineering, <$50K/yr

  • US domestic (US citizen)
  • Maryland
  • Public High School School
  • White male
  • Competitive swimmer, but likely not collegiate level. Violin/Orchestra.

**Intended major of Aerospace Engineering

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • Unweighted HS GPA: 4.0
  • Weighted HS GPA (incl. weighting system): 4.75 on 5.0
  • Class Rank: NA
  • ACT/SAT Scores: 1600 SAT score, first time; did not take the ACT.


  • 5 AP courses so far (2 more next year). Received 5’s for Calc AB and Calc BC; 5 for US Govt; 5 for Physics-Mechanical; 4 for English/Writing.
  • Will be taking AP Physics-Electrical next year and Discrete Math.
  • Will have 4 years of Honors French.
  • Project Lead the Way - an Engineering Program.

No awards.


  • Volunteering math tutor for a Title 1 school summer program, elementary school.
  • Employed as a life guard for two years, obtaining all certs, etc. (CPR, etc.).
  • High School Rocketry Club
  • High School Orchestra member, violin.

Cost Constraints / Budget
(We have roughly $200k saved for college - 529.)

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety - Penn State, Virginia Tech
  • Likely - U of Maryland, College Park.
  • Match - Purdue Honors College, Purdue
  • Reach - MIT, Princeton, Cornell, U of Michigan, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, JHU (some merit scholarship money might be necessary for these schools)
    *Suggestions or other matches?

(Thank you very much!)

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This is a good start to a list and your classifications seem pretty reasonable, but you will not get merit money at MIT, Princeton, or Cornell. Those schools do not offer it.


I agree, this is a solid list. May be also add UIUC, UT Austin and CU Boulder for consideration.

Congrats on the stellar accomplishments so far.


I agree this is a good list, and correctly categorized.

Do you qualify for any need based aid? Have you run any NPC calculators?

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I agree with the above. Eliminate MIT, Princeton and Cornell. They do not offer merit aid. Plus, despite what USNWR might say, Princeton and Cornell aren’t exactly AE powerhouses, certainly not worth a premium over UMD in my mind.

He might want to look at Cal Poly. If they still offer the minimal scholarship for OOS students that they offered my son, it’ll just hit your budget. Of course I’m biased, but they have small classes, all professor taught, including labs, and offer a concentration in either aeronautics or astronautics.

At the end of the day, there are so few ABET accredited programs that the top employers for Alabama Huntsville graduates are going to be the same as those for MIT. He’ll really be fine anywhere.

Best of luck.

EDIT: I pulled the top 5 AE employers for MIT, Cal Poly and Alabama Huntsville from LinkedIn for illustrative purposes. The are as follows.

MIT: Boeing, Northrop, Lockheed, NASA, USAF
Cal Poly: Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing, Raytheon, NASA
AL Huntsville: NASA, Boeing, Northrop, Lockheed, Jacobs


It’s hard to tell with the 5 point scale. Is this straight As plus ? Or is it a 4 point plus APs?

Pa State and Va Tech are unlikely to be in at $50k. Va Tech is near $60k and PSU is over $50k with merit unlikely.

You could go with these #s as little as $20k to good schools. Alabama but I consider Auburn to be more PSU / Va Tech ish.

Actually Clemson and UGA are more like those too but Clemson too expensive although merit aid possible and UGA not known for engineering . Plus neither has aero but meche is a suitable sub.

Do you have other kids you need to save for ?

Are you willing to go above the 529 $? Assuming No demonstrated need, you’d have to.

Obviously if you get UMD, game over - unless you can go above the $50k.

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This student needs to apply to UMD CP early admission…if they do this, they have a great chance at acceptance. Would the Banneker scholarship be a possibility?

Would you consider Ohio State?


These are all great recommendations and insights. He’s a little nervous about going too far out west. (Maybe I can tell him Cal Poly is just a flight away).

That’s something on my list - running the NPC calculator.

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Yes, he’s never gotten anything but an A (super proud of him). We do have other kids, so yes, if he got into UMD then game over.


We’ll take a look at Ohio State - our neighbor’s son will actually be going there next year. Yes, the Banneker scholarship at UMD is definitely something he’s shooting for.


This is great insight! Thank you very much.

He should shoot for the Morell at tOSU as well.


For aero look at UAH. will be in 20s with merit if not less anf it’s in Huntsville - which is NASA’s Houston cousin

They kick butt in aero job wise.

All you list are fine schools. It’s just a question of budget.

People are tired of hearing it but since you are new - my son turned down Purdue with merit for Bama. Had 5 offers and 20 interviews by xmas. Offers from gen dynamics in New England and his offer he accepted in Ogden Utah. He didn’t target aero but rather auto and he was getting an offer late but decided to stay as he’s in a leadership development program. But he had two offers in aero with an ME degree. .

I was mad he chose Bama but he got his own dorm room. That was important to him. Crazy reason to choose a school to me but I’m not him.

Just got from his job orientation.

They had Purdue. Michigan. Ohio State Wisconsin. Auburn. Bama. Nc State cwru. Akron. W Michigan. Utah. Maybe more. Oh Missouri Science and Tech.

He said all get paid the same. Only difference is based on location - they get a housing allowance for two years. Some cities it’s higher.

You have lofty names on your list. I’m not suggesting these I’m saying are MIT worthy etc although I don’t know. But I do think for the most part, rank is for magazine sales and for kids to overstress themselves.

If budget matters, there are many fine schools. We saved big over Purdue. Just dumb luck. But as he told me this weekend his outcome was the same.

Btw he interned in auto after soph year in MS with two ga tech kids. He was invited back. They weren’t. So it’s not all just about name.

Not saying that these all aren’t great schools. But choose the right one for your son and family. Many of these companies don’t look at rank. They look at ABET accreditation. They state so right in their job descriptions.

Good luck.


In terms of admissions, I think that the schools are likely correctly categorized. My concern, however, is getting them all in below $50k/year. The schools below will either meet your budget outright, at sticker price, and/or are highly likely to give you son very significant merit aid.

  • Case Western: About 5800 undergrads…your son will need to show a lot of demonstrated interest here if he wants an admit…but if they think he’s seriously interested, he might get some very good merit here.
  • Iowa State: About 26k undergrads
  • Missouri Science & Technology: About 5600 undergrads
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic (NY): About 5600 undergrads
  • U. of Alabama - Huntsville: About 7600 undergrads
  • U. of Central Florida: About 60k undergrads, and I think he would get a full ride here if he becomes a NMF
  • U. of Cincinnati (OH): About 29k undergrads and a strong co-op culture
  • U. of Florida: About 35k undergrads
  • U. of Kansas: About 19k undergrads
  • U. of Minnesota - Twin Cities: About 36k undergrads

UAH scholarship for 4.0 / 1600 is full tuition, leaving a remaining cost of $13-21k.

Its neighbor AAMU offers a full ride for those stats.

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Yes, UMDCP fills up most of its space in early action (11/1 deadline) admission. All students applying later in the regular decision round should consider it a reach. So definitely apply early action.


This is great info. Thank you!


Assuming you mean Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the nearest airport is SBP, which would require a connecting flight from an origin in Maryland. SBP’s airlines and non-stop destinations are listed at Airline Information - San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

The other Cal Poly with AE and ME, Cal Poly Pomona, has five airports 16 to 43 miles away (ONT, SNA, LGB, BUR, LAX), although the best connected one (LAX) is the furthest one, and Los Angeles metro traffic can be heavy (CPP to or from LAX is about a two hour trip by public transportation).

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Not sure of the gpa as it’s on a 5 point scale. But if it’s a 4 then even less. Money for other siblings education.

I’m going to assume, perhaps incorrectly OP is not seeking an HBCU but it is an option.

That said they have MechE but not Aero which to me isn’t a big deal but may be to another.

But fair suggestion I always forget.