WPI vs RPI class 2024 merit money

Has anyone had success in having WPI increase merit money? My son was accepted to both RPI and WPI, but was offered $30,000 a year at RPI and $14,000 a year at WPI. He loves WPI and loves their swim team as well (he wants to swim in college too), but I don’t see how we are going to be able to pay $55,000+ a year. We called WPI and they were very nice, but said they do not match other schools. Has anyone found otherwise and any advice on how to try again/ what you did if they increased it?

This question has been raised before and I wish I had a better answer. I hope one shows up here.

Neither WPI nor RPI have the financial resources of MIT or Harvard. With limited resources merit awards must remain competitive. As a WPI alumnus I contribute modest donations every month…, we call it “paying forward.” Meanwhile new buildings and laboratories go up almost every year. They just announced a new $80,000,000, hundred thousand sq ft building this fall where more “well heeled” alumni are continuing with very generous donations, but the cost of STEM research facilities continues to grow and equipment must be kept up-to-date.

You might be able to ease the burden in an educationally beneficial way by considering https://www.wpi.edu/student-experience/career-development/co-ops. It is only 4 to 8 weeks and helpful. I pumped gas every weekend for four years and flipped hamburgers where I ate for free. It still goes on. I can proudly boost I was the fastest grill man in Worcester, but it is also true that college loans from your local bank enjoyed strong Federally subsidized rates which have since been removed.

Most of the regular alumni fund donations still go to FA. Our student payback record is very strong as it is at many STEM universities. What is your son’s major?

WPI '67

Thanks for taking the time to respond. My son is planning on majoring in biochemical engineering. Right now his long term goal is to go to medical school too.

I will read more about the co-op options. It looks like they are 4-8 months at 30 hours a week. It would be nice to be able to get experience in your field of interest AND get paid for it. If he goes to WPI he will have to find a way to make some money while he is there. He has been considering possible army ROTC as well. Although, as a mother, I have to admit I’m not as keen on that option.

Like most parents, our goal is to have him finish college with as few loans as possible. We have certainly saved money towards his college for years in a 529 plan, but not $200,000 worth.

@momofswimmers WPI is my son’s top choice but the scholarship he was offered is less than other schools where he was accepted as well and WPI is among the most expensive. On the other hand, I am considering that they include $5000 toward studying abroad. My son definitely wants to do that and it would cost extra at other schools. Also, it seems that a good portion of the high cost of WPI is the room and board. It is about 16k at WPI vs $10k for Clark for example. I have read that it costs less to live off campus, which my son would likely do starting Sophomore year. Just some thoughts we are considering since we are in the same boat as you.

I read on a FB page that the best way to negotiate for more merit is to wait until closer to May when the university may not have the enrolment they want and are more flexible. The downside of this is that if your son wants to swim he may need to commit earlier. Also, it might hurt his chances of getting the dorm he wants (not sure if WPI assigns dorms based on first to enrol). My DD loved the swim coach at WPI and he was really interested in her but she wasn’t feeling the school so ended up not applying. She did apply to RPI in August/September but hasn’t heard back. When did your son apply and did he apply RD to RPI?

I’ve heard it’s cheaper to live off campus too. I’ll have to see if I can check how much cheaper it might be and add that to the consideration/feasibility.

My son was lucky enough to get the RPI medal award at the end of junior year. RPI allowed kids with that award to apply early action (everyone else was either ED or RD). He heard about mid December that he was accepted there. If your daughter is in the RD pool, I don’t think she will hear until March. What did your daughter think of the RPI swim coaches? Is she hoping to swim there too?

My daughter applied to both WPI and RPI. She got her acceptance to WPI with about $32K merit, but unfortunately that still makes it out of our financial reach. She just submitted her RD to RPI.
Just curious - your son already got acceptance and merit award to RPI? My understanding is that they had two Early Decision phases and the RD deadline is Jan 15, with notifications going out March 7. I assume he did not apply ED since he also applied to WPI (if you apply ED to RPI it is binding and if are accepted you must withdraw all other college applications, isn’t that correct?). How did you get the RPI acceptance so early? Am I missing something?

I was also informed by someone that they did contact WPI and was told they do not increase merit so even though WPI was their first choice, they enrolled their child elsewhere. The day before commitment day they received contact from WPI offering another scholarship. At that point it was too late.

Then it’s almost like you would need to send money to hold your spot at two schools and “cancel” one at the last minute, waiting to see if they will send you more money.

As far as RPI, they have something they call their Rensselaer Medal which is given to high school students who have done well in math and science. My son received this at the end of junior year. I believe it is a guidance counselor from the high school who recommends a student and sends their info to RPI to evaluate. The award means that if you are accepted you are guaranteed $30000/year merit. In Sept they sent an email to the “medalists” that there would be an early action option for them. So if he applied by Nov 1st he would hear in December whether he got in and any other financial aid offered. They then have until May 1st to commit. My understanding was only the medalists could do early action, everyone else had only early or regular decision option. Good luck to your daughter!

@Momofswimmers Ohhhh, thanks for clarifying that! I was wondering how your son was able to get a decision already without going the ED route… Congrats to him!

My daughter won a similar award at the end of her Junior year (Bausch & Lomb Science Award) for Rochester University and was nominated for the Jefferson Scholarship at Virginia, but she ended up not applying to either of those schools. She didn’t get the Rensselaer Medal and she is applying to RPI. If only there was a way to trade awards - she’d have traded both for the Rensselear one!

Anyway, it sounds like we’ll have to wait a couple months before we can evaluate any RPI offer with WPI’s. I’ll try to remember to come back here and post once we get RPI’s offer!

My kid is a WPI junior, and after 2 years in the dorms, she is sharing a lovely 3 bedroom off-campus apartment this year with 2 friends. Even with expenses for a 12 month lease, we are saving 50% (maybe a little more, even) of the cost of on-campus housing and food plan. I wish she had lived off-campus last year, but she didn’t make plans early enough ( all the good off-campus apartments are already leased for the following year by the end of October!).

@cameo43 Wow good to know! If my son goes there I’ll definitely encourage him to set up an apartment for the next year early on. That’s a lot for a freshman to think about but sounds worth it.

What other schools are folks on this string waiting to hear from besides RPI? My son didn’t apply there - we visited but it wasn’t the vibe for him. We are waiting on Stevens, RIT, and Northeastern.


ARMY and Air Force ROTC are both on the WPI Campus. The Naval program is across town at Holy Cross. All three programs love WPI cadets. A grand nephew of mine just graduated from Georgetown on a free four year ride as a major in Mandarin (i.e., not a WPI major). Financially, it is a realistic option.

After freshman year, living in the off-campus WPI neighborhood is an effective option. This has not changed over the years. I did so for three years and it was walking distance.

The BME program at WPI is an exceptional program, but so is RPI’s. One of WPI"S big BME stars was a RPI undergraduate with a PHD from Johns Hopkins and is now in Robotics and BME at WPI. One of last years graduates in BME from WPI who is now in the PhD BME program Johns Hopkins felt she was better prepared than the premed graduates who she was sharing classes with at JH. They seemed to want to learn information while her undergraduate engineering education had taught her how to address and solve problems. They are not the same process.

Whatever the case, she is loving JH too!

The head of WPI’s Chemical Engineering department is basically a biochemist who focuses in BME and is also a home grown product. See https://www.wpi.edu/people/faculty/scroberts

Best of luck!

WPI has been a great fit & worth the money - it was also the most expensive choice of D’s top 3 by 10k+.

I would hesitate to assume off-campus is half of on campus for most students. My D will pay $575/month plus 1/3 of utilities. Plus renter’s insurance. Plus furnishing a kitchen & bedroom (the shared living space is furnished). Granted, you will save $ on food.

Jump off campus is a great website to give u a sense of what off campus living costs at WPI.

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I imagine there’s a wide range in cost and amenities out there. I think my kid got a great deal. Her share of the rent is $475. It’s a 9 minute walk to campus. She and her apt-mates furnished common space with hand-me downs and thrift store finds. They designed and built a massive kitchen island with wire shelving and a wooden top. I gave her just $300 to furnish her bedroom. She had a mattress from home, and found a bed, desk, nightstand and dresser (and even a big potted plant) on sale at Ikea, had money left over for lunch! She spent the next day assembling the furniture and it looks great.

Having lived in off-campus apartments back in my college days, I was expecting a somewhat ‘typically shoddy’ student apartment – I was very impressed when I finally saw it a few weeks after she moved in. (Her schedule didn’t allow for her to accompany her friends when they found the place, so she first saw it when she moved in.) It was super clean, with fresh paint, polished wood floors, new bathroom and kitchen, and washer and dryer. She loves to cook, and meal-preps for the week on Sundays. We are saving a lot of money on food, for sure, and she is extremely happy to have her own room. I’m hoping that she’ll stay at WPI for grad school, and not have to move again for awhile.

I didn’t think rpi had ea, only ED. If he’s been accepted was it ED for RPI? If so that’s rough.

She loved the WPI swim coach but wasn’t in love with the school. She didn’t like the group project mentality that everyone else loves. She also felt it was in the middle of nowhere (we aren’t from the east coast so she could be very wrong about that but it’s the vibe she got). Lastly, the dorm they showed us on the tour was tiny and was for 3 people with a common bathroom. For those reasons she didn’t apply to WPI. I will reiterate the comment about the coach though. Of all the coaches she spoke with he was both of our favourites.

When we first toured WPI, they showed us a dorm room that was a forced quad but clearly was originally built as a double… with about 3 square feet of clear floor space. I assumed my kid would cross it off the list right then and there, but she was not bothered one bit! LOL. Her freshman room, like most at WPI, was a triple. She had great roommates and there were no issues at all, she loved it.

Her first choice originally was RPI. She actually applied ED to RPI, and then decided to go back to WPI for a second visit, at the invitation of a kid who had graduated from her boarding school the previous year. She had a great afternoon hanging in the dorm, meeting her friend’s new WPI friends and some faculty and visiting a class. That evening, she called her college counselor and emailed RPI and asked them to move her application from ED to RD. She applied EA to WPI, and I’m so glad she did – it has been the perfect fit for her. (That second visit made all the difference!)

Our D has been accepted at WPI with a $25K scholarship which is good as its one of her top choices after our initial visit a year ago. We also visited RPI but our D did not like that as much - thought both the dorms and engineering facilities were not as up to date as WPI - she did not end up applying to RPI.
She has also been accepted at Purdue, U of Delaware and Rutgers, whilst deferred at Case Western and rejected at Georgia Tech. Still waiting on U of Maryland (College Park), Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, U Mass at Amherst and RIT.
Right now her top choices are WPI, Purdue and Vanderbilt with Virginia T coming into the picture potentially depending on COA.

This is tough journey with lots of variables but good to see others here having a good experience with WPI.

Any perspectives on WPI vs Purdue would be welcome? - very different schools for sure.

My daughter is currently at WPI and really loves it. I wanted to mention a few things that have helped us out financially. First off, room and board (meals) are extremely expensive, but like another person mentioned they can live off campus starting sophomore year and many do. And by off campus, I mean homes and apartments 1-4 city blocks away from campus . Some are just as close or closer than dorms. The average is $450-$550 a month and most you can sublet in the summer which saves money too. We really took this into consideration when looking at the 4 year cost. My daughter will be in a sorority house next year for about $5600 for the year and includes laundry and all her groceries. The following year she will probably move into an apartment her last 2 years. From sophomore year you can buy cheaper meal plans that do not expire. Like 120 meals that most people say can last your last 3 years if you cook in your apartment or home mostly. They are just nice if you are on campus for a long day and just want a warm meal there instead of heading back home for an hour or so.

Another thing about WPI is that they are on terms and have decent breaks in-between. They have 1 NP built into the system for EACH year so if you child never fails a class and has even just two AP’s, they would graduate in 3.5 years. Many kids chose the optional E term for a discount and cut graduation to even less. Others utilize their almost 4 months summer off and do paid internships and if you take D or A term off, can do a very well paid co-op with only missing 3 classes (again if you have no NR’s, this will NOT prolong graduation like many other institutes) So there are a lot of options to get done quicker or make money during off times. And since they have terms, by the end of freshman year they have so many more classes and credits than a typical college freshman. I have to also say my daughter was able to get a job working at the school (not federal aid work) and gets a very dent pay. She works about 8 hours a week and is a great resume builder. Probably can’t do that as a swimmer, but for others coming on here there are options to work on or near campus for some extra money.

On the flip side, she also looked at RPI and received about $6000 more in total aid. But once again, you need to look into a lot of details about the deal you are getting. RPI currently has the ARCH program and I am not sure how it went last summer as it was the first one, but we were not taking a chance on a program that was not fondly received by most students. Even before this program you MUST live on campus freshman and sophomore year and pay for the meal plan. But because the ARCH was implemented, you now have to stay in school all summer between sophomore year and junior year, pay for the semester and pay for a mandatory dorm and meal plan (you could not live off campus or even frat/sorority houses.) Then junior year you do get one semester off to try and find an internship or co-op. But most co-ops won’t hire you for only one semester off if part of your summer isn’t included. It is usually 5-6 month co-ops . So this removes anyone in the Fall semester from co-oping. And the word was, it was really hard for find internships in the fall and spring. It was also reported that many special courses are not offered for that summer program and kids were a few classes behind in junior year. And because you are off campus, half of junior year, once again most juniors paid to live on campus because why pay for an apartment, you are only in one semester? So it seemed very greedy on RPI’s part. They are accepting more students this way and still have enough dorm space to make them all pay to live on campus for 3 years. Not to mention there isn’t much time off to work and make money. Their summers are shorter and their winter break only 2 weeks.

Anyway, do your research. My daughter loved WPI more than RPI anyway on their accepted student day visits. But even though we were looking at paying more, in the long run we are actually saving money. She has a plan to be done in 3.5 years and maybe start working on her masters the last half year. She already had a paid 3 month internship this summer as a freshman in DC. Once they saw all the classes she will already have done and her project based experience, they hired her when they wanted a junior or higher. She is very busy, but very happy. And as far as the freshman dorms, she lives in a single inside a 5 person suite with it’s own bathroom. So not all dorms are 3 or 4 person tight. But the friends of hers that do, seem fine. She hangs out with them a lot and says those floors are always the most fun. WPI kids have this blend of being really smart workhorses, but they are not stuffy or entitled. They don’t take themselves too seriously. It was that, that made her decide this was the school for her.

Good luck!!