We are starting to explore options for our DS '25. We live in MA & he will definitely apply to in-state schools, but I’d like him to have some smaller school options as well (under 5,000). We will qualify for some need-based aid, but not enough to make schools with only need-based aid affordable for us (apart from our in-state schools). Right now, we’re looking at schools in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and mid-Atlantic.
He’s extra-interested in schools that are not super-preppy (kiddo is a theater & debate kid, very quirky, LGBTQ+, not an athlete). He is on track to be top 5-10% of his class w/highest course rigor, but of course that could still change (we’ll look at schools with a wide range of selectivity). Leaning toward social sciences at the moment, w/strong public policy ECs.
Small schools w/significant merit that I know about so far:
Bigger schools w/merit that could maybe feel smaller:
What other schools should we investigate? I appreciate any suggestions.
I believe Pitt is moving towards offering more FA than merit. My daughter was 10th in her class of 300+ and high scores, even after the $8000 in merit is wasn’t affordable at all. Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia got down to about $20,000 a year with merit, out of 20 applications that was her lowest option (mostly NE colleges). She did apply to many larger state schools though.
Seconding the suggestions of Dickinson, Skidmore, Muhlenberg, and Hobart & William Smith. Given that you’re already looking at Juniata and Allegheny, you might want to check out Ursinus as well. We didn’t end up applying (although we did visit and kick the tires… really nice campus, about half an hour outside of Philly), but my recollection is that their merit offers were quite generous.
Gettysburg is wonderful, but FWIW we definitely got a strong athletic-preppy vibe from it — more like Lafayette, St. Lawrence, and Union than the schools you seem to be targeting.
Finally, if you/he decide to cast a wider net, it might be worth checking out some of the great LACs in the Pacific Northwest — Willamette and Lewis & Clark in particular were very generous in the merit offers we saw, and Whitman offers a pre-application early financial aid guarantee, which is an amazing program — as well as Macalester, which has excellent merit opportunities.
The New School in New York City’s Greenwich Village offers merit scholarships and is strong in theater and performance. Eugene Lang College is their undergraduate liberal arts college and they also have a College of Performing Arts.
One more suggestion that may sound like a bit of an outlier is (if urban works) Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. That campus houses the dance and theater programs and has an overall “artsier” vibe as compared to the more traditional Rose Hill campus. The Lincoln Center campus has about 2,300 undergrads (there are a significant number of grad students as well) and he can take classes at Rose Hill if any are appealing (free transportation provided - at least when my S was at Fordham).
University of Rochester is worth checking out. They offer merit scholarships and admission is not as competitive as it should be for a school with their level of faculty and resources. Theater is very good and they have a competitive debate team. UR is the rare research university which offers an open curriculum. Undergrad enrollment is about 6500, but 600 of those are at the Eastman School of Music, which is on a separate campus. So, undergrad enrollment on the main campus is about 5900.
Ithaca College has an undergrad enrollment of about 4500, is very strong in theater, has a debate club, and is rated as a campus that is friendly to LGBTQ+ students. About 10% of their students are awarded non-need based scholarships.
Thanks, everyone, these are really helpful suggestions & we’ll check them all out.
Gardenstategal, that’s a good tip about the OH schools–I went to a midwestern LAC & know how much value can be found away from New England–but he wants to have some closer to home options, at least right now. If he decides that an LAC is a must, we’ll look at midwest/PNW.
Bill_Marsh, I suspect you’re right about Vassar being a fit–he has a couple of friends already there who love it, and on paper it has everything he’s looking for. Financially I think it will be beyond us, but we’ll run the NPC this summer & see if it makes sense to visit.
happy1, I would not have thought of Fordham–a very interesting suggestion.
Mine was admitted to Pitt with full tuition TE scholarship, but from the discussion boards this year it sounds like merit money has not been great and also unpredictable as many super high stat kids got nothing.