Trimming down list for CS major

<p>I have a pretty large list right now, and I really need help determining what to eliminate and if I need to add a few more matches/safeties.</p>

<p>Just to sum up my stats again, 4.0 UW (~4.4 W), rank 1/530, SAT in the 2300s, perfect subject tests and AP scores. Leadership in my extracurrics. </p>

<p>My criteria is very good need-based and/or merit aid and a strong CS program.</p>

<p>Reaches:
MIT
Stanford
CMU
Caltech
Brown University
Cornell
Columbia
Princeton
Harvard
UPenn
Harvey Mudd</p>

<p>Matches:
UC Berkeley
Rice University</p>

<p>Safeties:
USC
SJSU
UCLA
Santa Clara</p>

<p>Well, I <em>love</em> your brevity in your stats!!! :) I don't know why you'd need to add more matches and safeties; as long as you have a couple different-flavored ones that are both financial and academic, that should be enough.</p>

<p>You have some pretty different types of schools; do you really not care at all about size, climate, etc., as long as you have good CS and good aid?</p>

<p>I'd recommend doing as many EA and Rolling as possible - you might not have to bother applying to more in December that way. Both MIT and Caltech are EA; if you get accepted to one of those in mid-December, you may not have to apply to the others in late December. My son cut out 1/3 of his list that way!</p>

<p>@GeekMom63
Thanks, I didn't want to give a ginormous list again like before. Just another applicant competing for a spot at a top school :) Unfortunately, my financial/academic safeties aren't as strong in CS as I'd like them to be, but then again, they wouldn't be safeties otherwise so I guess I can't change that.</p>

<p>Well, after living in California for all these years, I'm used to hot weather, but I love the cold climate (snow!) as well. As for size, both large and small schools suit me fine and it's not a giant preference. I guess my next two biggest factors after financial aid and CS strength is safety and housing for a pet dog after the first year (off-campus).</p>

<p>The criteria you give won't eliminate any of those schools, except for Santa Clara, which doesn't have good aid or strong CS. In your last thread you built the list according to those criteria, so the only way you're going to eliminate schools now is by exploring each one and deciding whether other factors match you. For example, perhaps you'd look at the course selection for each school to see whether some offer more in certain areas you're interested in. Maybe you might eliminate some based on their social scenes or Greek emphasis. Maybe you prefer schools that are closer to being urban than suburban or rural (like Princeton and Cornell). Maybe schools with a strong interdisciplinary focus in CS (like Penn, MIT, Stanford) are more to your liking. At this point, though, you'll have to do some more soul-searching to decide which ones aren't for you, since they all match your two primary criteria.</p>

<p>Do you have interests outside CS? If so, that can be an easy way to throw out needless choices.</p>

<p>My criteria is very good need-based and/or merit aid</p>

<p>Can you clarify.....</p>

<p>Schools that give the very best aid don't give aid or enough aid to those who don't qualify for the aid that the person/family thinks it needs.</p>

<p>Have you run any FA calculators IM&FM methodologies? If so, did you come up with numbers that your family has agreed to pay (with allowances for paying a bit more)?</p>

<p>If you haven't done this, how do you know if a school with great aid would give you what you need?</p>

<p>Do you have a non-custodial parent? If so, would he contribute towards your college costs?</p>

<p>As for merit aid....how much do you need? If you got a half tuition scholarship to Santa Clara, would your family pay the other $30k+ per year to go there? If not, then that's not a safety. If so, then keep it on. </p>

<p>How strong are all those ivies in CS?</p>

<p>UCLA is a match like Berkeley. No one can count UCLA as a safety.</p>

<p>@mom2collegekids
I just plugged it into the calculator here (not sure if this is accurate or not): FinAid</a> | Calculators | Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Financial Aid
It estimated an EFC of ~10-12k, without any scholarships or extra grants added into the calculation. I don't have non-custodial parents. I'd like to get as much merit aid as possible. I want to lower my yearly costs to 5k yearly or less.</p>

<p>For the strength of the Ivies, the only ones I am not sure about are Harvard, Princeton, and UPenn. I've heard the other schools are decent to great.</p>

<p>I've actually eliminated couple schools off my list:
Reaches:
MIT
Stanford
CMU
Caltech
Brown University
Cornell
Princeton
Harvard
Harvey Mudd</p>

<p>Matches:
UC Berkeley
UCLA
Rice University</p>

<p>Safeties:
USC
SJSU</p>

<p>I sort of need help figuring out a strategy in applying for colleges to save money, and I really need to nail down my matches and safeties financially and academically.</p>

<p>Also, has anyone tried hiring one of those people who specialize in helping you with financial aid? My parents are considering it, but I'm not so sure if it's better than doing it on my own (although not sure where to start and how to maximize financial aid).</p>

<p>You keep mentioning merit aid, but your reach schools basically don't offer merit aid, with perhaps a few small exceptions.</p>

<p>Also, do you know that merit aid first replaces need-based awards at almost all schools? So if you have a $12K EFC and receive a big hunk of financial aid, any additional merit aid will first substitute for the financial aid. It won't reduce your costs from the $12K mark.</p>

<p>@MisterK
I was addressing mom2collegekids' question about merit aid. Need-based or merit, my family would like to rake in as much as possible (and I didn't know about the replacement).</p>

<p>MisterK, the line between "merit aid" and "need-based aid" is blurred at schools with generous financial aid guidelines. What is merit at one school is need-based at another. Stanford, for example, gives aid to families making up to $200k. At most schools, that would definitely fall under merit aid, but at Stanford it's considered need-based.</p>

<p>larrylamarck, I wouldn't bother hiring a financial aid consultant. I think the consensus is that they are generally unhelpful and often scammy. You'll be required to submit very detailed info in the CSS profile, and if you're accepted, the financial aid office staff at each college will be able to help out. But given how detailed the CSS profile is, there isn't much if anything you can do to spin it in a way that will get you more aid; the inclusiveness of the profile makes your situation rather cut-and-dry. (What isn't cut-and-dry is how the financial aid office interprets that information for your aid package, but a consultant can't influence them.)</p>

<p>As for the three Ivies that you're unsure about: Princeton is perennially a top-10 CS school in the US News ranking and a top 5 CS school in the NRC (actually #2 behind Stanford); it's well-known that Princeton is one of the best CS schools. Harvard is also pretty decent, has lots of big names in CS, and comes out in the top 5-10 in the NRC ranking. US News doesn't rate it as well, but Harvard is still decent. I would keep these two just because they're known to be the two most generous schools with financial aid, and you're likely to be happy with what they give you. As for UPenn, it's also strong in CS (top 15-20), but it wouldn't give you the financial aid safety net that you'd like. If you cut UPenn, IMO you might as well cut Brown (decent in CS but also not 'amazing' financial aid), unless you have a personal reason for wanting to apply there.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice phantasmagoric. I've cut those two Ivies down, and I actually don't think Rice University is a good fit for me because of location. Are there any East coast schools I can consider that are in near the top for CS and with good financial aid?</p>

<p>Also, regarding specific schools, it seems like all the calculators give me different amounts. UC Berkeley, for example, gives me an 11k EFC with 8k student loan/work on my own part, but Stanford gives me a 2k EFC and 2k student loan/work estimate, so I'm not sure how to get estimates for all my schools...(not all have calculators).</p>

<p>Sorry I missed your earlier post.

[quote]
Do you have interests outside CS? If so, that can be an easy way to throw out needless choices.

[/quote]

I do, but I can't really think of anything specific that I'd want. I'm not going to be participating in Greeks, but I don't mind if there are Greeks on campus - as long as I'm not pressured into joining one. I guess I also prefer the East coast location, but since I live on the West coast, I'm still applying to California schools.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I'd recommend doing as many EA and Rolling as possible - you might not have to bother applying to more in December that way. Both MIT and Caltech are EA; if you get accepted to one of those in mid-December, you may not have to apply to the others in late December. My son cut out 1/3 of his list that way!

[/quote]

I'd love to but I don't know of any extra particular EA/Rolling schools to apply to with my criteria (I've read threads about UChicago CS and it seems like a small department).</p>

<p>Reaches:
MIT
Stanford
CMU
Caltech
Cornell
Princeton
Harvard
Harvey Mudd</p>

<p>Matches:
UC Berkeley
UCLA
Northwestern University</p>

<p>Safeties:
USC
SJSU</p>

<p>It estimated an EFC of ~10-12k, without any scholarships or extra grants added into the calculation. I don't have non-custodial parents. I'd like to get as much merit aid as possible. I want to lower my yearly costs to 5k yearly or less.</p>

<p>As mentioned above.....any merit scholarships will be applied to "need", not EFC.....unless the merit scholarship is so HUGE that it covers all your "need" and still can reduce your EFC.</p>

<p>For instance...</p>

<p>COA = $30k
EFC = $10k
need = $20k</p>

<p>To get your EFC down to $5k, you'd need a $25k per year scholarship. That's not likely going to happen at any higher ranking school or UC. The UC's will likely expect your family to pay its full EFC. </p>

<p>UC Berkeley, for example, gives me an 11k EFC with 8k student loan/work on my own part, but Stanford gives me a 2k EFC and 2k student loan/work estimate, so I'm not sure how to get estimates for all my schools...(not all have calculators)</p>

<p>Stanford is like HYP, it gives "super aid." Those very few schools are the exceptions.</p>

<p>BTW.....that student loan that Berkeley is listing does not go towards EFC. That is going towards your need. The UCs also gap, so you may have to pay more than your EFC.</p>

<p>You need some TRUE financial safeties. You need to apply to 2-3 schools that you know FOR SURE will give you HUGE merit for your stats. It sounds like if you don't get into Stanford, H, or P, you could have an unaffordable EFC.</p>

<p>@mom2collegekids
My mom says we stretch our finances a little to get by with the 11k-12k EFC. Do my outside/extra scholarships pay for the financial need portion or the EFC portion?</p>

<p>
[quote]
The UCs also gap, so you may have to pay more than your EFC.

[/quote]

What does gapping mean?</p>

<p>
[quote]
You need some TRUE financial safeties. You need to apply to 2-3 schools that you know FOR SURE will give you HUGE merit for your stats.

[/quote]

Do you have any recommendations?</p>

<p>Another possible financial safety idea is a UC or CSU within commuting distance, if such exists. That would save much of the living expenses.</p>

<p>@ucbalumnus
I'd have to go check for the UC/CSU's but I think most of them are generally at least 1-2 hours away. If I save on living expenses, does my EFC go down, or does my financial need go down?</p>

<p>EFC doesn't go down, but if you qualify for Blue and Gold Opportunity at UC, then that ensures that total grant aid will cover UC systemwide fees / tuition at a minimum. However, 1-2 hours away may incur significant commuting expenses as well as consuming a lot of time.</p>

<p>I'm actually considering taking Cornell off my list because I've read about its location being sort of "secluded" from cities. Not sure if I should put Columbia back on.</p>