Which college should I apply & attend as an International Student? Pomona College vs Washington University in St. Louis?

I’m a international student from India, and I require a significant financial aid to attend, I feel Pomona College would give me that, but Washington University in St. Louis is a private university and not a LAC, which might give me an edge.

I want to major in either CS+Neuroscience/Biomedical Eng./Biology on the pre-med track.

I would love to pursue a PhD/MD later in grad school. And, I feel Pomona will give a strong edge in grad school over WashU. But at the same time I feel WashU has a strong BME program.

I’m not sure, what should I do please help me. Any advice might be helpful.

I don’t think either of those schools are known for giving generous FA to international students.

I suggest you google for a list of colleges that do offer generous FA for internationals. We have no idea of your stats, but wanting to study CS will limit your choices. Bio is a common major at most colleges in the US, so I suggest you focus on that.

Understand that most of the schools that offer the best FA to students like you are incredibly competitive. You need to be a top student to even have a chance. Have a back up plan.

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Also, don’t put the cart before the horse. If med school is in your future, it’s super expensive. You will need at least $200k for that. So consider where you can attend college most affordably.

The time to decide between two schools is after you get accepted and get your financial aid packages. Right now, you can apply to both and see if you get accepted.

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You are asking a college to gift you up to $250,000 worth of an education. There is no shortage of highly qualified students- domestic and international- who would also like to be gifted with an education. The college needs a reason to pick you. Are your stats at the very top of admitted students?

No. For MD, grades & test scores. For PhD, grades, test scores and research experience. Neither school will have a particular edge.

In the 2019 application cycle, 1,890 foreign applicants applied to M.D. granting programs in the United States and 325 of those applicants were accepted. PhD is a more likely path. BUT: there is even less money available for international students for med school than there is for undergrad, and many of the med schools that accept international students require proof of ability to pay upfront.

I checked on US News Rankings its average financial aid for the year 2018-2019 was around $67K-$69K.

I’m planning to apply ED 2 so I’m confused between those.

Yeh I have stellar academics, extracurriculars (like summer research with an MIT Professor at his lab, Independent Biomedical Research with a local university professor, any many more!), LORs, essays (I’m still writing).

why I researched deeply regarding Pomona College – its an amazing school & with the Claremont Consortium, its even more amazing.

You don’t use USNWR to assess your shot at good financial aid. Those numbers are averages. Some kids get more. Some get less.

In the US, it’s crazy to try to say either Pomona or Wustl is better. They are both superb.

For med school, a top name undergrad is not required.

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Be realistic when you apply. 11-15% of admits each year are internationals at Pomona. It has an overall admit rate of 7.4%. That makes your chances very, very small as a baseline. And on top of that, Pomona is need aware for admission. (Yes they meet need, but only once you get over the hurdle of need being a factor in the admission decision.) So just be realistic that it is a reach for anyone, and a higher reach for internationals, and a higher reach still for internationals who need aid. If you get in it will be fabulous, but your chances are necessarily very low.


Plan A: admission at highly competitive college in the US

Realize it’s a reach so you need backup plans. Plan B and plan C may be swapped depending on your personal preference:

Plan B: admission to (maybe significantly) less competitive US college that will give you aid

Plan C: attend very good university at home for undergrad (I presume you’d have no problem getting into IIT), knock it out the park, get into good US college for graduate school. Many talented and bright students from developing countries find this is the easier route as it is much easier getting admitted (and getting funded) for grad school in the US than undergrad.

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From Pomona’s website: The Admissions Committee takes financial need into consideration at the time of admission.

COA annually at Pomona is $75,000. The average aid given was $57,415. You can earn about $2000 a year with work study. Can you come up with the difference each year?

The competition from other Indian students is fierce. I’m not sure how much impact your research-based ECs will have. For example, having done summer research with an MIT professor isn’t more impressive than a kid who had to work all summer to support his family.

As mentioned, the acceptance rate is 7%. It’s even lower for international kids needing a lot of financial aid. I think you need to do more research and perhaps post all your stats so we can assess your situation a little better. Tell us how much money you need. As mentioned, Pomona is NEED AWARE.

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Isn’t work-study a federal program? I don’t think internationals qualify for that.

Oops, yes.

WUSTL isn’t even a good choice for domestic students with high need, let alone international students. Ponoma is generally considered the more generous of the two, at least for domestic students.

WashU also has lots of pre-med students, so it doesn’t really want another international pre-med student needing a lot of aid.

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I can pay $15K-$17K USD per year.

You need to find schools that are close to that range. Also, remember that you have to pay for health insurance which is NOT covered by any aid. It’s separate. Assume ~$3K per year.

You cannot use the US News Rankings. Those rankings are considered a popularity contest. “Average” aid is from those schools who chose to report their higher numbers.
Med schools don’t have that kind of funding. My daughter is in a med school program and most of those students are on loans for $250K. International kids from India are over-represented. Med schools don’t fund international students. Now with Covid, the schools have lost a LOT of money. Everyone is going to have to pay a lot these next two years +.