Where to apply? East coast, biology, some merit desired.

Help please? My junior son is having a difficult time deciding on colleges to apply to this fall. He falls into the tricky category of very good (but not extraordinary), non-minority or first-gen, student seeking some merit (but not qualifying for need).

He has a strong academic record (4.0 UW/4.5 W), ranked #7 out of 530, and is in IB Diploma courses junior/senior year, with three AP courses from 9th/10th. He scored 1400 on the SAT but hopes to take it again in September—IF it happens! Extracurriculars are drama, orchestra, Model UN, and Chinese club. Has volunteered at the hospital (but probably not this summer!)

His ideal school would be:
• East Coast but not a downtown campus
• Under 30K enrollment
• Good biology program and pre-med advising
• Likely to offer some merit to kids with his profile

We can pay about $40K/year without help. We want to avoid loans (we have 2 starting college in 2 years) and won’t qualify for need-based.

He will apply to University of Maryland and UMBC (in-state) but need more options Maybe Villanova and William & Mary, but probably no merit aid there. Pittsburgh? Richmond?

Welcoming all suggestions. Thanks!

My ds20 is oos for UMass Amherst, and got a nice merit scholarship with somewhat lower stats., bringing the net cost under 40k. He isn’t a STEM kid, so I can’t speak to bio, but it’s a great school and he’s thrilled to be going there. Your DS would potentially qualify for merit and the honors program with his stats.

Edited to add: UMD was high on his list—he got in but no merit $. It’s a fabulous school and he loved it when we visited!

UMass Amherst

SUNY Binghamton may come in within your price range…they have been known to give small merit awards to OOS students. You can also look at the University of Delaware.

Are liberal arts colleges too small? If not, Skidmore? St. Lawrence? Hobart? I’m thinking of schools where you could get pretty big merit awards. Unclear about merit – Emory.

Hobart &William Smith

Pitt would be OOS and merit starts at 1480 SAT so probably not affordable. Delaware and Dickinson popped into my head.


Miami of OH

In-state public schools are the most obvious way to keep costs under $40k for most strong students.

You might want to run the NPC on UVM. They do have merit for out of state students. U.Mass Amherst also comes to mind. I am not completely sure however what advantage either would have over your in-state public schools.

I would say the Honors Colleges at Penn State (Schreyer) or UMASS. Makes a big state university smaller. I believe both schools are generous with merit aid too. May also want to look at Clemson.

Penn State is NOT generous with merit aid (or need-based aid).

Thanks for these great ideas. Delaware was on my mind, and I like the ideas of UMASS, Providence. Will look at Binghamton and UVM too. I’m not sure about the liberal arts schools… I think he would do well at one, but he has the idea that his college should be larger than his high school. Good to know about Pitt’s SAT for merit… I think he has the potential to achieve a higher score if he gets another shot at the SAT - uncertain now! Our UMD schools may be the best option but want to cast a wide net to ensure he has some options.