Would I be more likely to get merit or need based aid?

<p>I'm entering my junior year of high school and just beginning my college search. A huge factor for me is financial aid. I'm a pretty good student, but not great. I took the PSATs this year and got a 192 (1920), which ranked me in the top 6% of college bound juniors. I will be taking prep classes this year so hopefully my score will improve. I get all A's at my large public high school and take many AP and honors classes. I recently received a 5 on my world history AP test and will take three more at the end of this year. I expect to graduate in the top 10 of my class with a 4.0 weighted GPA. I work part time, play basketball, and I started a cancer awareness club at my school which I am president of.</p>

<p>In terms of finance, my dad works full time and my mom is on disability because she has cancer. I do not know our exact income but I think it's somewhere between $60-75,000. </p>

<p>So, I'm wondering if I'm better off going to a really good school that will give me a lot of need based aid, or applying to a lower school where I have potential to get a merit scholarship. I don't think I'll get into any ivy leagues, but I was wondering if anyone knows of any other schools with great aid that I could get into? Any input is appreciated!</p>

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<p>Your application list should probably include both. With a 1920 PSAT, assuming that is about what you’ll get on the SAT, you’ll qualify for significant merit aid at some schools, but not the most-selective of those that do offer merit aid.</p>

<p>And you need at least one solid financial safety - a school where you’re certain to get in, that you can pay for under the most pessimistic financial aid assumptions, and that you would be happy to attend. I’d look very closely at the in-state public schools. Also, consider doing your first two years at a community college, saving some money, then transferring - but if you do so, be aware that you’re unlikely to get much merit aid as a transfer student.</p>

<p>If you got a 192 as a soph on the PSAT, then with some study, you may be able to score high enough as a junior to make NMSF. So study for that test.</p>

<p>Sounds like you should be shooting for both. It sounds like you can easily break 2000 on your SATs, and after that you can really start looking at some of the more selective need-blind colleges - without ignoring those that will give you merit aid.</p>

<p>Mom2 is right the NMSF is the ticket to providing your financial safeties. My D had about 5 full ride offers on the table due to National merit status. DO the questions of the day on college board, dictionary.com words of the day, and sign up for the October SAT Junior year. It is the weekend before the PSAT and will really help you.</p>

<p>Thanks for all of the advice. Does anyone know the qualifications for being a NMSF?</p>

<p>To make NMSF, you have to have a PSAT score that meets or exceeds your state’s cut-off score.</p>

<p>I don’t know what state you’re in, but the cutoff scores can range from the low 200s to 223. Therefore, if you got a 192 as a soph, then with practice, you’d have a good chance of getting a score that makes NMSF in your state.</p>

<p>So, get a SAT practice book and practice! The “blue book” from Collegeboard may be best. Your library may have one that you can use for free…and sometimes GCs will let you borrow one of theirs.</p>

<p>OP, are you a US student? You’ve posted question in the international student forum.</p>

<p>First of all talk to your guidance counselor and go to the National Merit Scholarship site. That will give you the info you need. Your counselor would also have information on what the usual thing is for kids going to college from your school, and may have some hints on where the best aid is in the area. Ask also about Naviance and look and see what colleges your alums have gone from there with what kind of academic stats.</p>

<p>Do an estimated FAFSA to see about where your family would stand in Federal financial aid. That EFC figure is a good start for some indicator on what kind of need based aid to expect. ALso complete some Net Aid calculators for some schools that interest you. That the more generous schools in terms of meeting need tend to use PROFILE as well, be aware that non custodial parents, and home equity can skew your FAFSA EFC for such schools, among other factors.</p>

<p>When you are looking for merit aid, find out what percent of the students at the school are getting merit aid and what the average aid is. Then look at the mid 50% range stats for the school. Your grades are right up there, so it is mainly the test results that will make the difference. If a school gives 15% of its students merit money with an average award of $15K, for instance, unless you have something else that the school really wants, if you test scores are in the mid 50%, you are not likely to get anything from them. If your test scores are well in the upper 25% range of that school, well, now we can start looking at possibilities. You have to do some estimating, extrapolation and maybe calling for info and find out where you would be in that exalted group of the top 15%( I usually halve that number since there are some special hooks a college always wants to buy that transcend the stats) and you can get some idea if you have a chance at get the average award at that school. Nothing definite, but it gives you some idea. Also look at the college website and ask about any scholarships that may up your odds some. If the school has some special awards for female engineers like CMU essentially does, and you fit that profile, that can up your odds. You are not likely to get money from schools where you are not in the upper echelon of those who are getting the awards, other than some token $1000 or so awards that some schools give out, that may not make a dent in the cost.</p>

<p>There are schools that guarantee to meet full need and with your EFC probably going to be around $12-15K (my guess only here), if you can get accepted to such schools, that might be what your family contribution ends up being. Do calculate your EFC, so you get some idea about this. A bit of work on your test scores with study, and an increase, there , and you do have a shot at getting into some such schools, as well as getting some good merit money at others.</p>

<p>The more well known the school, and up there in national rankings and selective, as a rule, the harder it is to get merit money. Schools that don’t have to “buy” students, in general, have their wish lists on what they will pay for. </p>

<p>My Nephew with an EFC of about $18K, and a PROFILE number similar to that He got a $20K merit award from the school itself, which was wonderful, but the sticker COA is close to $60KThe school gave a $10K or so financial aid grant, and the rest was self help, Staffords and workstudy gapping the EFC by a couple of thousand so that he and his family had to come up with about $20K of their own money which they did from savings, nephew’s summer job and tightening the old budget belt and crossing their fingers hoping that the parents did not have to borrow a few thousand from PLUS for next year. Income tax refund and maybe a bit of bonus money would ease some of the pain, but it is going to be tough even though he got a nice merit scholarship, a nice financial aid GRANT the full Staffords and workstudy making up the rest of the merit/need package. </p>

<p>He was also accepted to some full need guaranteed schools, and they left even more of a gap as they came up with a higher contribution figure–up to $27K that he and the family needed to cough up that year, and they threw in even more loans and work study. Bottom line is what you have to pay and loans are a form of future payment, so the non full need guaranteed school was the best deal all around for him. His stats were a bit higher than yours. He did have less expensive options that involved state school as local commuting options, but for what he wanted, the bottom line cost was a little more than what the main state school options were, and he liked the one school much better.</p>

<p>An example, real life of how this can work.</p>

<p>Wow xP…that is a long post!</p>

<p>I’m not an international student. This isn’t in the international forum…
Thanks for all of the info guys.</p>

<p>Your post in the IS Forum: <a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/1367044-id-happy-help.html#post14643123[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/international-students/1367044-id-happy-help.html#post14643123</a> That’s why I asked. I posted an answer to your NMF question on another thread.</p>