What other universities should we look at as a plan B?

My daughter had her heart set on UCF or FSU but we received her SAT scores and they are very low. We are going to do some prep classes but I know statistically those don’t help improve scores very much. Her GPA, honors classes, couple of APs, and hours of volunteer work are great so we thought UCF would be a good shot. Sadly, now I’m not so sure due to her SAT. It’s so disappointing to that she has worked so hard and proven herself a great student, but one test has shattered her dream. She has been in years for days thinking there’s no way she can attend a four year college now. We need some backups that might be a little easier to get into, but that still provide the four year university college campus experience. She has worked so hard and has heart set on living in campus and having the full college experience. Please tell me there are some other universities she might get into with a lower SAT but good GPA and rigor. TIA!


I know a lot of people who improved scores significantly with Khan Academy online (and it’s free). I also hear AZ state schools are good options. Maybe some others on here can chime in, but lots of schools will be test optional again next year (unless you plan to stay in FL). Good luck!

Huh? SATs are still required at Florida state schools?

yes - FL is the one state. You need to look at Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, any of the GA schools including UGA if everything else is strong (they are TO), College of Charleston, Miami, Ohio, etc., MS St. Arkansas, and yes Arizona.


Yes. Thank you! I’ve been looking at OOS schools but I would need to know what schools offer generous financial aid packages. We have the Florida prepaid plan.

Unfortunately, and it’s very disheartening. My daughter is a very hard worker who has had great grades and rigorous classes. We never thought we might be in the position that she wouldn’t get into a state university. She has worked so hard with her heart set on a four year college experience. If we have to go the CC route we will, but it would be her very last resort. I know she would excel at a four year state university if given the chance.

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Is there no state U she’d get into? The schools I mentioned above - especially Alabama, Arizona, Miami Ohio - this year at least and Charleston - did not include scores in their scholarships. Bama, Arizona, MS State - they publish up front their scholarships so you know what you’ll get b4 you apply. You’ll be surprised at how cheap they are.

What about FAU or FIU or Florida Gulf Coast…or UNF. There’s no school she can get into? Don’t be disheartened…there’s always a path. What about a private school like Eckerd or Florida Tech or Stetson or Flagler…if you can combine their merit with pre-paid, maybe that’s a route. I’m sure it will work out.

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I assume she’s a Junior. At Arizona, tuition is $37K. If you have a 4.0, you get $35K. if it’s a 3.9 (my daughter had one B, it’s $30K.

U of SC - is another - very aggressive.

Bama - they publish their chart, etc.

Don’t despair.

WVU is another solid one MS State will tell you your scholarship - just fill in some boxes on their website. Ohio U is another…

Prep classes can improve score. I’ve seen students add 200 points to the combined score. Also, she might want to try the ACT instead. It’s a different test and she might click better with it.

You can’t assume that her SAT scores will keep her out. Grades are typically the more important part of the formula. It sounds like an appointment with her guidance counselor is in order. If that doesn’t work, there are private college counselors who are experienced at dealing with situations like this. That would be the next step.


Thank you for all those recommendations! I had no idea those OOS schools were so aggressive with scholarships! I’ll definitely look into those! We live in South Florida and she really doesn’t want to stay here for college, but if FIU is the only option she will definitely go there and then maybe she could transfer.

She is taking the ACT in April. Math is her weakness so I’m not really hopeful she will do well as I hear the ACT math has a higher difficulty, but we are trying everything. She begins a six week SAT prep this week before the SAT for May. We are going to really try to watch e yea videos and do lots of math practice.

Thanks for giving me some hope!

Go to a school with the idea you’ll enjoy your four years. Even if it’s close it doesn’t mean you need to go home all the time. So don’t go with the idea of transferring - you’ll naturally have a bad experience.

Yes, certain schools - Alabama, South Carolina, Miami, Arizona, ASU (less than AZ), Arkansas, Mizzou and others offer big aid. You have to pursue - for lack of the right words - lesser schools. btw - the best merit is at Washington & Lee (see Johnson Scholars). SMU also is aggressive. Also, check “directional” schools - Southern Illiniois. Also, LSU, UTK - there’s just so many. You’ll be fine - with some research

What about private schools - like Tampa - how much would your plan cover?

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Great suggestions. Thank you. I’m not sure about our plan. I know we paid for the four year tuition plan, and she isn’t opposed to taking out some loans. We need some supplemental aid if she goes out of state, so I will definitely research all those options. Thank you so much! You’ve been very helpful! I really appreciate it!

Most schools this year are TO - I know that Arizona, Miami (OH), Charleston - didn’t even use tests in their scholarships.

Add Ms State, ole miss, KY, UTK.

Private - it’s regional…but Bradley U.

I know my son got 50% at Florida Tech and Embry Riddle…if they can combine that with pre-paid, etc.

How about West Florida or Gulf Coast or New College.

A ton of schools are going test optional starting this year, so you should be fine! Just a quick google search should let you know which ones are TO. In addition, there are tons of 4-year colleges that have really high acceptance rates. I’d say solid GPA/extracurriculars but low SAT you could probably still look at schools with a 60% acceptance and above with a degree of security (with the colleges on the 60% side being high matches). All in all, please tell your daughter for me. that she’s going to be fine, and the SAT in no way determines her worth!

What’s your budget and her intended major?

I’ll be adding those to my list. Thank you!

Yes, I’ve looked at TO schools, but sadly none of them are in Florida and cost for OOS is definitely a factor for our family. My husband is a first responder, I work as contractor for various clients. Neither job affords us the luxury of paying most OOS tuitions, but I won’t discount the schools mentioned. Who knows what offer we might get? I myself was able to attend the very expensive University of Miami due to a very generous academic scholarship.

Thank you for your very kind and motivating words! I will share them with her!

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Has your daughter tried using an SAT tutor ?

I’m not really sure what our budget is as we were hoping the prepaid plan would pay most of the tuition and we’re hoping to explore various financial aid options. Basically we figured we would just do whatever we had to in order to supplement whatever we received from an instate public school and prepaid. We didn’t anticipate it being tens of thousands of dollars a year.

As of now she wants to study pediatric speech disorders. She has been in the early childhood education certification program and has passed all the state certifications test with flying colors. She is almost done with her portfolio and only has to finish the required hours working with the children. When she graduates she will have that certification but doesn’t want to go into teaching necessarily. She would rather work with children needing therapies.

It sounds like your daughter is doing great with grades/activities, so she should be able to get some solid merit aid from OOS schools with high acceptance rates and/or are TO! Just focus on those essays and you should be good to go - start drafting the personal statement over the summer! Also you mentioned she is a junior - she still has time to retake the SAT is she wants to! Khan Academy has great resources, your local libraries probably have some SAT prep books, and feel free to PM if you want some study tips!

Best of luck to you guys!

She is signed up for the ACT in April and another SAT in May. She starts SAT prep classes this week. If that doesn’t help we may consider a private tutor for at least the math portion. We also plan to use Khan Academy heavily throughout the summer and she will likely retake the test in August. Then we will just use the best scores from each section and hope for the best.