What are my chances of getting into a top 20-100 school?

You’re an auto-admit for UT-Austin, but getting the choice of major is far from guaranteed. CS and accounting are ridiculously competitive. Also, I might need some clarification on cost. You mentioned family member in the military, but I’m not sure how that would be relevant to making these schools affordable.

What you’ll want to do is find out exactly what you’re going to be paying for each school, and if your parents can afford to send you there. I would suggest putting in some Texas schools there like A&M, U of H, UT-Dallas, etc. Even an auto-admit at UT doesn’t make it a safety at all. What you want in a safety school is the a reasonable assurance of the major you want to study.

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Thanks for responding! I have a family member in the military, so they have certain benefits of serving. One of those is the G.I. Bill, which provides educational assistance to military members, their spouses, and their dependents. My parents do not plan on going back to school and have made it clear that they would not mind me using the G.I. Bill to pay for college. Cost is not a restraint currently, however, I am not sure I want to attend a school somewhere where tuition is astronomically expensive. I have also applied for scholarships and depending on how well I perform on the PSAT, I may earn another scholarship. Some colleges and universities have merit scholarships, which I plan to apply for (I am not sure how the merit scholarships work, only that they are awarded to select individuals with high grades and excellent achievements). Hope this helps!

Also, do you have any recommendations on what I can do to increase my chances of getting my preferred major at UT Austin?

Hi Amous, my husband and I are also planning to use his GI Bill benefits for our oldest daughter. Make sure you know which type you qualify for and double-check the benefits. The GI Bill, at best, will only cover up to the cost of in-state tuition plus room and board, leaving you with the rest of the tuition to cover yourself if you choose an OOS school. For a private school, this year it will cover up to a maximum of $26,000 plus room and board, but you may get less depending on years of service and type of GI Bill. Again, you will be on the hook for the difference.

One thing you should look into is the Yellow Ribbon Program from the VA. If you qualify, some schools will give you additional scholarship money and the VA will match it. Sometimes it’s enough to cover the full amount of tuition, but sometimes it’s not. Not all schools participate, either.

For instance, I live in MD, so the cost of tuition plus R&B at UMD would be fully covered by our Post 9/11 GI Bill. University of Washington is OOS for us and the GI Bill would only cover the UW in-state price, which would leave us with an additional $25,000 per year to pay out of pocket. The UW does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, so a degree from there would cost us $100,000 on top of out GI Bill. MSU is also OOS for us, but they offer to cover all tuition not covered by the GI Bill, so it would cost us nothing extra to send our daughter there. USC is a private school so our GI Bill benefit would only cover $26,000 per year, but USC also generously offers to cover any tuition not covered by the GI Bill, so again we would pay nothing extra to send our daughter there (vs UW costing $100,000).

It’s complicated but very important to understand your benefits. The GI Bill can be an incredibly good deal if you can survive the military, but it’s not a free ride at any school you want.

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Thank you for replying! I am not completely informed about the GI Bill and all of its benefits, so I appreciate you teaching me more about it. I will ask my parents and see what benefits I can qualify for. I did not know that the Yellow Ribbon Program existed either, and I would like to know more about it. Thank you for sharing insight into the details of the GI Bill, and I will definitely have to talk with my parents about what benefits we qualify for. Thank you so much, I greatly appreciate it!

As I mentioned, it’s a good deal but complicated. I would just hate for you to get your heart set on certain schools only to learn later that one or more aren’t fully covered by your benefits and you can’t afford them after all. My own daughter knows that we aren’t willing to pay extra beyond the GI Bill and YRP, so she looks up schools on the VA’s YRP website. If the school isn’t fully covered with GIB/YRP, it’s dropped from her list before she can become too attached (sorry, UW!).

Oh! Another important thing about the Yellow Ribbon Program - some colleges offer only a few scholarships, some only for certain departments/schools, some for graduate programs only, some have different amounts for different majors… The number of scholarships available will be listed along with what type of student/major qualifies.

Google “Find a yellow ribbon school” to get the VA’s search tool. Note that the amount listed for a school is the amount the school puts up; the VA will match that amount. For instance, Rochester Institute of Technology lists something around $13,500 for an unlimited number of undergraduates in any department. The VA will also put up $13,500, for a total of $27,000 in YRP scholarship funds each year. Add that to the $26,000 from a full GI Bill = all tuition is covered.

R&B is a whole other (though slightly less complicated) calculation based on the monthly housing allowance of an E5 and the school’s ZIP code. There’s a calculator for that, too, but I can’t find the link on my phone right now. Let me know if you want links for info to any of this and I’ll try to post them tomorrow. My bet is that you can find a bunch of schools you’ll love that are fully covered.

The most important thing is to know what benefits you qualify for, which is something your sponsor (parent who earned the benefits) should confirm before you start looking. The YRP is separate from the GI Bill and also has qualifying rules that you can find on the VA’s YRP page; they are fairly simple, though.

If your parents are willing to pay above and beyond what’s covered by the two programs, that will open up even more schools for you. Just do the research and then the math for each school very carefully. Any merit scholarships are subtracted from the amount the VA puts up, so they won’t help cover any “extra” tuition unless the merit amount exceeds the VA’s match.

Good luck! Leaving college with no debt would be a pretty awesome way to start adult life.

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My DD got a Top 10 education (obviously private university worth about $300K) for free using the GI BIll, Just remember not every university has unlimited matching (yellow ribbon) for the GI bill, some restrict the number of participants, some restrict the amount of the match. Only a few are unlimited in both number and match.

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