Author Topic: College financial aid advice  (Read 2787 times)

partgypsy

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College financial aid advice
« on: September 09, 2020, 11:48:30 AM »
Hey my daughter will be applying to schools this fall and so I would like anyone's advice about how to be pay for as well as be eligible for financial aid. I want to reduce as much as possible the amount of student loans she will have to take on I brought up community college but she is really not interested (and as she is already taking courses that count for college credit a I understand). Some questions. I know she should do alot of volunteer activities but alot of that dried up with covid. Her academics is strong but I don't know what else I should be doing for her to have both strong applications and financial aid. I make 70k. My ex, I don't know the specific amount but significantly less. Though he says he wants to contribute I'm not sure if he will be able to contribute in a meaningful way. Other than applying to colleges that have a low cost, any other tips? Other question. When sites like niche list cost or average cost after financial aid does that include everything (tuition, books, room and board) or only the tuition? If not, how to find total costs?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 11:52:46 AM by partgypsy »

Laura33

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 12:04:37 PM »
There are two types of aid:  need-based aid, and merit-based aid.

Your salary and investments will be based on your need-based aid using the federal formula (some colleges supplement that with their own forms).  Every college should have a calculator that will show you what you should expect to pay based on your income and assets. 

What you are talking about with extracurricular activities goes toward merit aid.  And the best way to get merit aid is to apply to colleges where your kid's grades and test scores would put her in the top of the class -- what are typically called "safety" schools.  Your daughter should have access to Naviance or other sites through school; there are also a lot of websites that collect that kind of data and allow you to compare different schools and find a good mix.  I used collegedata.com a lot, just to get the basic information about a bunch of places. 

Keep in mind:  most of what schools will offer as need-based aid comes in the form of loans.  So you are more likely to make progress if you can find a school that really wants your kid and will pay.  Along those lines, do not just look at the cheapest schools.  Public schools often do not have big endowments, so the vast majority of kids there get only need-based aid.  Private colleges, on the other hand, will often try to attract students they want by offering them good merit aid packages.  So you should research the amount of merit aid these schools give, too.

Finally:  please be realistic with your daughter about what you can afford and what you will allow her to spend.  She may not be interested in community college, but if that's what you can afford, then that's where she's going to need to go.  Too many parents just assume that financial aid will be there and promise their kids that they can go wherever they want, and when the aid comes in much lower than expected, they just take out more loans to cover the difference.  That is a really good way to screw over both your own future and your daughter's. 

PMG

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 12:20:48 PM »
You'd have to read each college's info carefully to know what is included in their total cost. Room and board is your most controllable cost if living off campus. 

There are so many variables, try a few calculators, talk to the financial aid people at your choice schools and see what numbers they give you.

Apply to many and a variety of schools. I was given such good financial aid at a fancy private college that it made it cheaper than the cheap state school and definitely gave me a more academically rigorous education and stronger network, smaller classes, more support. At first glance I would have never even considered the school, the cost was just ridiculous, $45k annually, but I knew a professor there who kept pushing me to apply so I did just to make her happy and it ended up being really affordable and a good choice for me, though of course YMMV.

I have no advice on how to rearrange income in order to qualify for more aid. I will say that you can save a lot by knowing what you are getting in to.  Read it all thoroughly.  Make a plan.  Know the course requirements for her chosen major, match up what she already has and make a very thoroughly plan.  An advisor can help with this but advisors see so many students, they really won't put the same time into it as you will. If your daughter can take a reasonable load and stick to the same plan and graduate in four years she will automatically pay less than if she reroutes a couple times and takes 5 or 6 years to complete a 4 year degree. Sure, sometimes rerouting is really important for the student... but knowing what you are getting into and understanding what is required for the major can save you tens of thousands in tuition costs get her out into the job market promptly.




Cranky

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2020, 12:57:53 PM »
Start by filling out a FAFSA and seeing what kind of estimate you get as to you family's expected contribution.

Most need based support will be in the form of loans, but I warn you that merit based scholarships tend to come out of that loan offer and not out of you EFC (expected family contribution.) Full ride scholarships are few and far between.

CheapScholar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2020, 03:27:25 PM »
What is your home state?  Iíd really focus on trying to get your daughter into your state flagship university if possible. If thatís not possible, Iíd look into which public university is realistic for her and see how she feels about going there, and if sheís willing to commit to working a work study job, or other part time work, willing to work over summers, and maybe do other smart things like try to be a resident assistant by her junior year and receive free room.  Public university education is still very affordable in many states if the student is willing to hustle.

Like others have said, I would plan on applying to a lot of schools.  Research which private schools she likes have no application fees.  If her application is good then some smaller privates might offer a financial aid package that is on par with tuition at public schools.

marion10

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2020, 03:39:48 PM »
Itís been a while- but the College Confidential website used to have a lot of info on what schools gave good merit based aid. Things change rapidly, though. My kids are now 31 and 28 and went to mid size private colleges for less than state school. Two things, Illinois state schools are expensive compared to many other states. Each of my children got generous merit scholarships as part of their acceptance letter - they did not apply- the school matched them. In my daughterís case, she got an increase of $4,000 in aid because another school offered more money and her first choice matched it. I wouldnít worry about extracurricular activities, every student is going to be in the same situation.

mozar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2020, 05:22:01 PM »
Has she thought about what she wants to do career wise after college? I chose a school that is highly regarded in the business world because I wanted to go into business.
Different places are known for different things.
She should also consider where she wants to live. Some colleges are known for having a better network in the state they are located.
For example the University of Maryland is a great public school. But you would want to continue living in Maryland to get the benefits of being an alumni.

I had a friend who wanted to get a master's degree in library science. He got into a school in Washington DC and one in Michigan. The one in Michigan was a full ride so he went there. Did well but did all his internships and job interviewing in DC. He couldn't find any jobs in DC willing to hire him over local candidates. He also missed the opportunity to apply to all the Michigan library jobs because he intended to come back to DC.
He ended up in a community college in rural michigan. He seems happy out there but he missed a lot of opportunities and he continues to be very poorly paid.
So I hope you understand my point, which is that this decision is more than just the sticker price of each college

Dave1442397

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2020, 05:22:15 PM »
Don't forget about scholarships. My nieces got at least $10k each this year just by applying for various scholarships.

https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/scholarships

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2020, 05:56:02 PM »
Thanks for the good tips.
I'll research the scholarships this weekend.
As far as major she states she wants to do "evolutionary biology" and she seems pretty sure about that. She also doesn't know if that means working with populations, genetics, marine biology etc but figures she will know more by what she takes in college. What she will do with it, ditto. But she had a chance to do a camp at a lab (the now infamous Biogen) and enjoyed it.
Actually the flagship college of our state is her number one choice, has been since middle school (her latin conferences are there every year). But- it also has a low admittance rate (23%) because many high achieving students apply there, both as safety and also as first choice. So it's not a slam dunk she will get in. Also something we need to consider, whether she should try early admittance. That means if she does get in, ruling out other colleges that may actually be a better fit.
Honestly this whole COVID thing has thrown me for a loop. She had all these things scheduled (SAT, Latin conferences) that got canceled because of COVID, and the summer got away, so I would really hate my lack of research and planning to mess her up.
I did the FASFA and said parental contribution would be 10K. (knock on wood) I could contribute 10-12K if I am frugal elsewhere, but that's about it. Her 529 only has 7K and I have it listed under my assets than under hers because I read that was OK if I was trustee of the account.   

Also has anyone heard of Questbridge? She got an invitation to complete an application through it but I have never heard of it.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 06:00:08 PM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2020, 06:10:45 PM »
Yes. She is a level headed kid. Initially she created an adhoc list of 50 colleges, but we did a financial cut off (based on average cost AFTER aid) and knocked some off. She is also willing to do work study and have some loans. But obviously she (and I) want to reduce how much loans she incurs.

Here's another question. I'm looking through her mail and she has gotten invitations to apply to a couple (kind of lackluster) colleges to be fastracked to get pretty generous financial aid. None of these are on the list that she made . How "bad" is it to apply/enroll to a college like that and be a top student in a not super challenging school, versus being in the middle of the pack of a more challenging/interesting school (even if it costs more)? Has anyone done the first and how did they feel about that experience? The worst outcome for her to go somewhere and have such an disappointing experience she has to drop out/transfer.
 
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 06:16:41 PM by partgypsy »

mozar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2020, 06:33:20 PM »
I would definitely apply early admission, if she has wanted to go since middle school. Colleges loves to hear that stuff.

If you are thinking she should go to a crappy school just to save money she might as well start at community college.

Another option is to get as many college credits as possible between now and fall 2021. Find out how what's needed to enter college as a sophomore or a junior. At most colleges that I know of, the first two years is going to be general requirements and classes specific to the major don't start until the junior year. She can take those general requirements anywhere.

Since she knows where she wants to go, that makes things easier. Start talking to the admission office now on how to make herself a competitive candidate for them, what the class series is for her major, and what classes she can get out of the way.

There are admission forums online that talk about how to get an edge. https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/

As far a extra curriculars go, colleges look at the whole 4 years of highschool. So it's not that important that she couldn't do much during the summer between her junior and senior year anyway.

mozar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2020, 06:40:19 PM »
Questbridge is for low income students who need hand holding for the application process. Think foster kids and kids who are first generation going to college.

Paul der Krake

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2020, 07:28:48 PM »
DW and I met at your stateís flagship school exactly 10 years ago. Me as an international exchange student (great cheatcode), her as an out of state admission (hard mode). We both loved it there.

To this day, she is convinced that she was only admitted because of her personal essay. I donít know enough about US grades and admissions to know how her grades were, but I read her essay and it was indeed excellent and totally stood out. Find out whatís truly unique about your daughter and let the creative juices flow. The financial aid office was very helpful when her parents divorced, and basically helped her graduate with minimal debt.

But beyond that, I wouldnít worry too much about how she will fit in, or specifics. Definitely get her into the best school she can, but once thatís done just roll with it and focus on what she can control. Her success after college will only be partly determined by grades and academic excellence. Grit and happenstance will do he rest.

We know people who were excellent in school who have very middle of the road careers now.
We also know mediocre students who found outstanding success in the corporate world later.

Funny how this works.




« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 07:30:24 PM by Paul der Krake »

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2020, 07:36:48 PM »
That's so interesting! I also think it would be great if she went there. Yes doing well academically only says so much. She has always been someone who has been wise beyond her years. I don't worry about her that way. And as long as she is happy and involved with what she does with her life, the rest is gravy.  Ps I'm one of those smart people who maybe missed the ambition gene. So my family is full of even brilliant people who income wise never did much. While my cousins who were mediocre students almost all make very good living because that was important to them and that's what they focused on and worked hard...I only cared about money the last 10? years of my life. A little too late to totally remake myself.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 07:43:19 PM by partgypsy »

CheapScholar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2020, 09:07:29 PM »
I work at an elite top 15 U, and my spouse works at a community college in the area. People in the FI community love to celebrate community colleges, and sometimes rightly so. Based on what I know of your story, I think the state flagship is best for you and your child unless she takes a standardized test and gets a very very good score that would possibly get her into a top 20 or 30 USNWR school.

Regarding community colleges, I think they are much less valuable for students that want to major in the hard sciences.  Those students need access to labs, top notch teaching professors, other like minded very intelligent students.  You really canít find those things at community colleges or at most regional publics.  Thatís not to say you canít start a CC and claw your way, but itís a hard claw.

Iíd apply early to the flagship, and apply to the next best public in your state if that doesnít work out.  And have an honest and good talk with my kid about paying for the 4 years (summer work to contribute, work study expectation, apply for RA position junior year, apply for any internal and external scholarships in sight).

Oh, and get some AP credit this year if she can.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 09:11:33 PM by CheapScholar »

Psychstache

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2020, 09:53:26 PM »
Yes. She is a level headed kid. Initially she created an adhoc list of 50 colleges, but we did a financial cut off (based on average cost AFTER aid) and knocked some off. She is also willing to do work study and have some loans. But obviously she (and I) want to reduce how much loans she incurs.

Here's another question. I'm looking through her mail and she has gotten invitations to apply to a couple (kind of lackluster) colleges to be fastracked to get pretty generous financial aid. None of these are on the list that she made . How "bad" is it to apply/enroll to a college like that and be a top student in a not super challenging school, versus being in the middle of the pack of a more challenging/interesting school (even if it costs more)? Has anyone done the first and how did they feel about that experience? The worst outcome for her to go somewhere and have such an disappointing experience she has to drop out/transfer.

Here's an interesting talk from Malcolm Gladwell that would suggest the former. He expands on this in a chapter in one of his books (Outliers? David and Goliath? I can't recall anymore). Couldn't begin to say the predictive or ecological validity to his claims, but it feels pretty intuitive.

Might help if I included the link:

https://youtu.be/7J-wCHDJYmo
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 07:15:58 AM by Psychstache »

secondcor521

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2020, 11:33:17 PM »
Some general comments:

Start reading and gathering resources now.  The more you read and the more good resources you use, you'll start to see what's best for you and your child.

Costs are usually just what the college is required to say are necessary costs, which include tuition, room, board, and required fees.  Depending on the source you look at, there might also be budgets for books, personal expenses, and transportation.  In my experience, they ignore or exclude health insurance, college visits, computer/technology, and the smaller things like ACT/SAT, application fees, housing deposits, etc.

Roughly/broadly/generally speaking, private has a higher sticker cost than public, and in-state will usually be cheaper than out-of-state.  As noted above, private will tend to offer scholarships that discount their costs greatly, but so far in my experience still not enough to be comparable to in-state public.

I echo the strategy to find schools where your child is in the top 50%, although I would go further and say top 25%.  Take your child's SAT scores and GPA and go hunting.  You can find these schools pretty easily by those two metrics, as all schools publish that data.  My son is in the top 25% of his class at a private out of state school, and they gave him scholarships which knocked about 1/3 of the price off.

Each college is required to have an net price calculator.  I have read, and my experience confirms, that these are generally very close to realistic assuming you put in the correct data that they ask for.  Here's an example of one:  https://utulsa.studentaidcalculator.com/survey.aspx

Lots of young people love biology as a subject and a major, especially young women.  However, it is not very marketable as a degree from what I have seen.  If your child chooses evolutionary biology, they will very likely need to go to graduate school in order to get a decent-paying job.  If they do not go to graduate school, they might get a job, and it might pay just a bit more than a job at the local fast food joint.  That's my opinion - have your child research and prove me wrong.  (I doubt they can.)  Research this now so your child can make an informed decision rather than get the degree and end up with a $25K job and $75K in student loans.

Having a good idea of what majors they're interested in does help quite a bit in the college search and application process.  My middle son wasn't sure between Mechanical Engineering or Chemical Engineering, so we just looked at schools that had both.  I've actually known people who started at schools and then had to transfer because the majors they wanted were not at the schools they started at.

If your child goes to a school that uses FAFSA only, it will depend on whom they live with most (365/2+1 overnights) in the 12 months ending on the day they complete the FAFSA.  If you and the other parent are no longer married and they live with you, then it will be your assets and income listed on the FAFSA; the other parent's data is not collected and will not impact FAFSA aid.  FAFSA opens on 10/1 every year; applying as early as possible can help, because schools give out aid until it's gone, and some schools run out.  So if your child is a senior now, you can apply for FAFSA aid for their freshman year about three weeks from tomorrow.

FAFSA income is based on prior prior, so if your child is a senior in high school now, it will be your income from 2019 that will be used for their freshman year.

On early admission stuff, be sure to read to see if it's binding or not and consider that when applying.  Most often, if it is binding and the school does not offer enough aid to make it financially viable, you're still expected to be on the hook.  I don't like them having that power over me, so I discouraged that with my kids.

Ditto what someone said about Questbridge.  It's for first-generation college kids who are Ivy League potentials.  I think they also have a fair amount of binding-ness to their process, which again is a turnoff for me.  Doesn't sound like it applies to your child.

Totally OK to have her 529 listed with you as the owner.  Actually, for FAFSA I'm fairly certain it doesn't matter - 529's are considered parental assets regardless of whether they're owned by the student or the parent.

There is a whole 'nother aid system called CSS that has very different rules from FAFSA, mostly used by high-end liberal arts colleges, as well as some of the competitive universities.  Most CSS schools expect contributions from both parents even if they are divorced.

Ditto what someone else said about being a big fish in a small pond.  It's a Gladwell book, I think David vs. Goliath, and the argument is backed up by data that it is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than the reverse.  Colleges will try to get you to believe the reverse is true; I don't buy it.

Laura33

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2020, 06:45:59 AM »
To answer specific questions:

How "bad" is it to be the big fish in a little pond?  It can be pretty awesome.  It's also the most likely way to get really good money for college.  Professors like smart kids.  If your kid is the smart kid, she's likely to get first pick of a variety of research opportunities, internships, etc. 

Questbridge:  look at the schools that participate and see if there are any that appeal to your daughter.  My niece is currently going to school on a full ride via the Questbridge program.  As I understand it, it operates sort of like a "matching" program:  they have a list of schools that participate, the kid applies to the ones they're interested in, and then both the kid and the schools make their lists ranking who they're interested in, and they compare the two and match you with the highest rank.  Of course, there's no guarantee (if the schools you ranked highly didn't like you, you lose out).  But it can be a huge benefit to kids who otherwise don't have many great choices.  My niece is very bright and very poor (because my brother is an idiot) and would have had zero help to pay for college.  She fell in love with one of the schools on the program, that school loved her too, so they offered her a Questbridge scholarship.  She is basically now living the dream at the school she loved but could never have afforded otherwise -- far, far away from her lovable-idjit father. 

PMG

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2020, 07:56:15 AM »
Iíll share my experience in community college and transferring to state 4 years schools, though yours may be different in a different state, but this will demonstrate why I say to do very specific research ahead of time.

I got an associates at community college planning to transfer to my state school for finish. At CC I was told that it would be seamless, that the state school of course accepted all of the CC courses and that the programs were designed to work together. When I was transferring I found out from the state school that sure! The AA transferred... but.. the major I wanted,  in fact ALL majors required a student to be enrolled for a minimum number of and a certain schedule of required classes that could only be attained by attending at least a full 3 years and most transfer students were expected to attend 4 years. What!?  But! I was given a full ride scholarship!  Which generously covered 2 years because I was a transfer student who already had a two year degree! These things did not add up!  And I did not want to spent extra years of my life repeating work I had already done.

I ended up jumping ship and going to an expensive private liberal arts college that I mentioned above. When I visited that school during each stop on my visit the person I was meeting, financial aid, study abroad, each of them knew my name and had info about me in front of them when I stepped in the room. They went on to help me figure out how I could rearrange requirements, petition to have some waived and graduate in two years. For me, I wanted to be the small fish in the small pond, but I also knew that they wanted me there!   

You can also negotiate with schools. By the time I knew I wanted to go to that private school I had several other cheaper and decent offers on the table.  I called the private school up on their deadline and asked if I could have a little more time to make my decision. I told them I really wanted to attend, but just couldnít afford it. They said sure, take another month to decide. The next day they called me back because they had found another $10k in annual scholarship money for me. 

I am still a huge supporter of community college.  CC is great for students who just want to dip a toe in, or need a lot of flexibility around work and kids, or who have a direct or technical goals. Nursing school, that sort of thing. Or it can be a great tool for a transfer student if they start the conversation with their four year school before they even start at CC. If they really have the right schedule of classes to meet 4 year requirements, but donít trust the CC to guide you through that. The CC wonít know all the 4 year requirements, and the CC gets itís funding and status from giving out degrees and certificates, so they will direct you toward that end which often does not align with the 4 year schedule.

Lots of rambling.  Youíve gotten so much good advice on this thread and it sounds like your daughter is a levelheaded kid who can handle a challenge!  Good luck.

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2020, 09:31:33 AM »
Thanks everyone. I am not anti community college. My mom was a community college teacher. My brother has an associate's degree from a cc. My nephew did 1-2 years at community college and then transferred to his intended school, was able to finish in 4 years by carrying a higher course load the last 2 years. So it can work. But all her classes are either AP or honors so since junior year she has already been accruing college credits and honestly she wants the college experience (doesn't want to do a gap year). I do think scholarships are important and I need to do some research and us both get on the stick re: that. I am assuming that the things she wants to do would require an advanced degree but I haven't actually asked her. Honestly if I would suggest a major it would be in biostats because they are in demand and make a good living even at a master's level. Something in retrospect I should have done, and she is much better at math than me. I don't want to be a pushy parent but have had conversations of doing something that makes a decent living, and have yr hobbies on the side.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2020, 09:46:35 AM by partgypsy »

trygeek

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2020, 10:34:33 AM »
There is a lot of good advice here. However one thing I found as someone who doesn't get any aid due to income at my state schools is that some private schools offer much more aid and scholarship money simply due to the fact that they have large endowments. So I would have paid full price at my state school and much less at a private school that you know the name of. Even though if you look at the cost of the private school it's like 80000 dollars a year. Don't not apply because you can't afford 80000, I don't think too many people actually pay that full amount.

mm1970

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2020, 10:41:54 AM »
I work at an elite top 15 U, and my spouse works at a community college in the area. People in the FI community love to celebrate community colleges, and sometimes rightly so. Based on what I know of your story, I think the state flagship is best for you and your child unless she takes a standardized test and gets a very very good score that would possibly get her into a top 20 or 30 USNWR school.

Regarding community colleges, I think they are much less valuable for students that want to major in the hard sciences.  Those students need access to labs, top notch teaching professors, other like minded very intelligent students.  You really canít find those things at community colleges or at most regional publics.  Thatís not to say you canít start a CC and claw your way, but itís a hard claw.

Iíd apply early to the flagship, and apply to the next best public in your state if that doesnít work out.  And have an honest and good talk with my kid about paying for the 4 years (summer work to contribute, work study expectation, apply for RA position junior year, apply for any internal and external scholarships in sight).

Oh, and get some AP credit this year if she can.
This is highly dependent on the community college.  Our city's community college is the number 1 in the US (literally - we go between #1 and #2), and has quite a lot of labs and top notch professors.  Local students attend free for 2 years, plus hundreds of students earn college credit while still in HS. Keep your grades up and you are guaranteed a transfer after 2 years to a UC or CSU.  Many many engineering students have been using this option.  One of my friends/ former coworkers is a prof at our local UC and has said that the best students he teaches right now are from the CC (that hasn't always been the case, but has been for a few years).  (He's an electrical engineering prof.)

Psychstache

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2020, 10:55:42 AM »
There is a lot of good advice here. However one thing I found as someone who doesn't get any aid due to income at my state schools is that some private schools offer much more aid and scholarship money simply due to the fact that they have large endowments. So I would have paid full price at my state school and much less at a private school that you know the name of. Even though if you look at the cost of the private school it's like 80000 dollars a year. Don't not apply because you can't afford 80000, I don't think too many people actually pay that full amount.

When i did tours at my upper mid tier private school for lunch money, the stat they gave us to recite to parents was that 85% of students received some form of aid directly from the school (which, in my mind always made me think about the 15% paying full price!).

As far as other thoughts on here, I went to a community college for associates, transferred to partnered state school for bachelors, and got my masters at private college. They all have their ups and downs. Overall, good advice in this thread.

Juslookin

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2020, 11:16:48 AM »
You have received all sorts of good advice. My suggestion is small, but mighty. You mentioned that you would research scholarships. My suggestion would be to correct that sentence as follows:  I will explain to my daughter how scholarships can help her and suggest that she begin doing the research. 🙂

I have two kids in college, take my word for it, if they want to go, they need to start doing the work.

Good luck!

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2020, 12:29:40 PM »
<clipping because it's long - read it above>

Articulation agreements are fantastic tools.  I'd just add that in my kids' cases, we've been able to look up the articulation agreements on the schools' websites, so you can do a lot of the research yourself.

Also, the schools my kids have been involved with seem to have articulation agreements with hundreds of schools.

The one limitation I can think of is that sometimes the acceptance of credits can be less than 100% straightforward.  Yes, a 3 credit Calc 101 at school X transfers for 3 credits of Calc 1101 at school Y.  But that 2 credit Mozart in Vienna interdisciplinary symposium might count for 2 credits of general education credits only if you got a B or better.

teen persuasion

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2020, 08:26:57 PM »
Here are the FAFSA formulas for calculating EFC: https://ifap.ed.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/2020-08/2122EFCFormulaGuide.pdf

You can see how your income and assets (including 529) affect the EFC.

Paul der Krake

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2020, 01:39:06 AM »
Most well-regarded universities, including OPís daughterís current first choice, rely on the CSS profile. Itís a lot more thorough than the FAFSA and a lot harder to optimize for.

Zamboni

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2020, 05:08:35 AM »
Plenty of people have already chimed this, but I'll chime again:
A prestigious private school (Ivy league or similar) will often end up being less out of your pocket than your state schools.

Personal case study:
Our flagship state school is giving us an expected family contribution of the full price, which is over $20K per year.
An ivy league school is giving us an expected family contribution of $5K-$6K per year
and no loans or work study.

These places have the same information from us. The same income that is considered too high for any need-based aid at one school is considered a modest income at another school that has more resources. So, it's very hard to predict which schools you will be able to afford before you have the financial aid letters from the various schools.

I did find the USA Today's graphic for each school that shows what percentage of students get 100% of their financial need met to be very helpful . . . schools that are low on that metric probably aren't going to surprise your daughter with a giant scholarship package.

My advice is to just fill out the FAFSA, CSS, and any additional school-specific forms, tell your daughter to apply broadly to different types of schools, and see what each school offers. The advice to follow up with the Financial Aid office of her top choice to see if they will come up with more money is also a good one. I know for sure it doesn't always work, but I also know from personal experience that it can work . . . and the earlier you ask them, the more likely it is to work. Having "comparison packages" also can get you more. While it isn't widely advertised, some schools will "match" another school's FA offer if you send them the official FA letter from the other school.

Finally, biology is one of the most popular majors, as others have said. Due to supply and demand, a BA or BS in biology is thus not particularly valuable. When I worked in industry at a company that hired both scientists and engineers, we hired BS biologists at the same pay rate as HS graduates with no college, sadly. BS chemists were paid considerably more (hired in at a salary level 11 or 12 vs. a 7 for biologists) and any engineering degree holders were paid even more to start. Tacking the word "engineering" on the degree seems to have market value. If she's interested in medicine, look for Biomedical Engineering programs, for example (or just major in history, get all A's, and then go get an MD). Industrial and Civil Engineers can do quite a bit of environmental work. Stanford has a program called "Bioengineering." Research is just as interesting in all of these fields if she is interested in research careers, but again some fields pay more to researchers than others. She should really think about this. She won't get good advice from the college personnel, who often tell students it doesn't matter what she majors in . . . in some ways that is true, and in some ways it is a lie.

MissPeach

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2020, 03:29:13 PM »
Here's another question. I'm looking through her mail and she has gotten invitations to apply to a couple (kind of lackluster) colleges to be fastracked to get pretty generous financial aid. None of these are on the list that she made . How "bad" is it to apply/enroll to a college like that and be a top student in a not super challenging school, versus being in the middle of the pack of a more challenging/interesting school (even if it costs more)? Has anyone done the first and how did they feel about that experience? The worst outcome for her to go somewhere and have such an disappointing experience she has to drop out/transfer.

I wound up doing this. My parents weren't supportive of my first choice of school and made life difficult for going to my second and third choices. They weren't Ivy League which have some connections support but they were top 15-30 schools. So I elected to go to a lesser provate school who subsidized enough to make it worth it, had my major, and wasn't impacted like the local state school.

I actually liked it more than I thought I would. It was a small school so I was able to get classes easily. I was top of my class in nearly all my classes though. I wouldn't say they were super challenging but I partly picked my major because it came easy to me, paid well, and easy to find jobs in it. Many of my fellow students were not the smartest people I had met but there were a lot of foreign students there and I got to know people from all over the world. A lot of my professors had previously taught at large name schools and had PHDs. Most had worked for large agencies like the UN. None of my classes were taught by the TAs.


In my career, I was already working in my major so since I had some experience. I didn't seem to have any issues finding a job my first few years out of college. At this point people just seem to care I have a degree even though I do something totally different now.

A far as transferring I did that too and it really sets you back unless the first school has a transfer agreement in place or the general education requirements are really similar. Usually the community colleges have agreements with the local schools. I was lucky that the college had an agreement to use the transfer agreement from the community colleges to the state schools even though their requirements were very different. That's the only reason I didn't get set back 1-2 years when I transferred. Where it hurt me is in order to graduate cum laude I had to have X number of units at the later school. So even though I had the GPA to quality I didn't have he number of credit there for that distinction.

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2020, 10:05:25 PM »
Not commenting more on the financial aid question, but as someone else mentioned, essay, essay, essay!

Your daughter's best way to distinguish herself from all the other kids with good grades, challenging classes, and extra-curriculers is by writing a really good essay that tells the admissions officers who she is, and what she brings to the school. Many places request two essays, in fact: one can be whatever the standard one is for the unified application, and the other should be specific enough to the school that you couldn't just substitute another school's name. She should be writing at least one of them right now, it should go through several revisions, and in the end the reader should feel like they have some idea of who she is, and what her values are.  I also recommend a little bit of "say what you can contribute to the school, not just what you can get from it."

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2020, 05:11:27 AM »
I would add in a couple of year specific points  - first, a lot of small schools are going to have real financial problems after this year, and second, a lot of students have deferrred this year, and there will be fewer spots open for next year as a result.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 07:35:08 AM by Cranky »

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2020, 06:00:14 AM »
You have received all sorts of good advice. My suggestion is small, but mighty. You mentioned that you would research scholarships. My suggestion would be to correct that sentence as follows:  I will explain to my daughter how scholarships can help her and suggest that she begin doing the research. 🙂

I have two kids in college, take my word for it, if they want to go, they need to start doing the work.

Good luck!

This. 100% this.

ender

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2020, 06:40:24 AM »
A few things I wish I did:

  • If your state has a way to take college classes in high school - do it!
  • If they know what school they want to go to, take as many gen-eds as they can at community colleges. Once you know the desired 4-year place you can ensure the credits transfer
  • If they go out of state, move to the town and work while taking classes part-time, to get residency.

When you graduate, your degree will say "4-year degree university" regardless of whether or not 50% of those credits came from a much cheaper community college.

TomTX

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2020, 11:22:07 AM »
. Industrial and Civil Engineers can do quite a bit of environmental work. Stanford has a program called "Bioengineering."

Environmental Engineering is a recognized discipline, though heavier on the chemistry.

Pigeon

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2020, 08:18:13 PM »
One additional piece of information I haven't seen here is that if your child is able to get private scholarships, many colleges just reduce their financial aid package by the same amount. That's very disappointing to the student who has worked so hard to chase down those scholarships.

rachellynn99

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2020, 01:32:27 AM »
Do you have any money saved up?

We've always told our kids they can go to any college they want- as long as it's paid for in cash. While she may not "want" to go to community college- she may have to. There's no way I would burden my kid with loans when there are other options just as good. I teach at a four year university, and honestly would encourage any student to go to a community college for their basics- unless they had a four year school paid for.

Regarding scholarships- test scores and GPA are more important than volunteering. And all students her age are in the same boat re:volunteering anyways- as they are all trying to navigate COVID at the same time.

Some schools are waiving test scores at the moment, but honestly- that's where many of the merit based scholarships come from.

You make too much money for grants or financial need based monies. But fill out the FAFSA and your student may qualify for some work study opportunities- which don't always pay that great but are super flexible with school work needs and classes and allow her to work on campus so no travel.

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #36 on: September 13, 2020, 10:57:06 AM »
Questbridge is for low income students who need hand holding for the application process. Think foster kids and kids who are first generation going to college.
Absolutely False!  Questbridge was the best decision my 3rd college grad child made!  Check out the universities Questbridge partners with!  She was able to go to her first choice, on a full ride + spending money (60K a semester) AND her scholarship was not dependent on her major, so she was able to change it a year in, and still graduate in 8 semesters with no debt! PM me if there are any questions you would like answered about Questbridge.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 11:05:44 AM by TikiTime »

Paul der Krake

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #37 on: September 13, 2020, 12:05:31 PM »
We've always told our kids they can go to any college they want- as long as it's paid for in cash. While she may not "want" to go to community college- she may have to. There's no way I would burden my kid with loans when there are other options just as good. I teach at a four year university, and honestly would encourage any student to go to a community college for their basics- unless they had a four year school paid for.
Thatís an extreme position.

Dumbed down example:
Option #1: community college, no debt, starting salary 40k.
Option #2: four year university, 30k debt, starting salary 50k.

The rational choice is to pick the debt option, all day, every day.

rachellynn99

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #38 on: September 14, 2020, 09:45:25 AM »
We've always told our kids they can go to any college they want- as long as it's paid for in cash. While she may not "want" to go to community college- she may have to. There's no way I would burden my kid with loans when there are other options just as good. I teach at a four year university, and honestly would encourage any student to go to a community college for their basics- unless they had a four year school paid for.
Thatís an extreme position.

Dumbed down example:
Option #1: community college, no debt, starting salary 40k.
Option #2: four year university, 30k debt, starting salary 50k.

The rational choice is to pick the debt option, all day, every day.

You would go to the community college the first two years, then get your four year degree. The degree would state where you received your bachelors.
 I haven't seen any data that shows your numbers are correct. Students with more debt make more money than those that are debt free?

TomTX

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #39 on: September 14, 2020, 10:25:16 AM »
We've always told our kids they can go to any college they want- as long as it's paid for in cash. While she may not "want" to go to community college- she may have to. There's no way I would burden my kid with loans when there are other options just as good. I teach at a four year university, and honestly would encourage any student to go to a community college for their basics- unless they had a four year school paid for.
Thatís an extreme position.

Dumbed down example:
Option #1: community college, no debt, starting salary 40k.
Option #2: four year university, 30k debt, starting salary 50k.

The rational choice is to pick the debt option, all day, every day.

Option #3: 2 years Community college, 2 years University, $15k debt, starting salary $50k.

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #40 on: September 14, 2020, 11:01:06 AM »
Plenty of people have already chimed this, but I'll chime again:
A prestigious private school (Ivy league or similar) will often end up being less out of your pocket than your state schools.

Personal case study:
Our flagship state school is giving us an expected family contribution of the full price, which is over $20K per year.
An ivy league school is giving us an expected family contribution of $5K-$6K per year
and no loans or work study.

These places have the same information from us. The same income that is considered too high for any need-based aid at one school is considered a modest income at another school that has more resources. So, it's very hard to predict which schools you will be able to afford before you have the financial aid letters from the various schools.

I did find the USA Today's graphic for each school that shows what percentage of students get 100% of their financial need met to be very helpful . . . schools that are low on that metric probably aren't going to surprise your daughter with a giant scholarship package.

My advice is to just fill out the FAFSA, CSS, and any additional school-specific forms, tell your daughter to apply broadly to different types of schools, and see what each school offers. The advice to follow up with the Financial Aid office of her top choice to see if they will come up with more money is also a good one. I know for sure it doesn't always work, but I also know from personal experience that it can work . . . and the earlier you ask them, the more likely it is to work. Having "comparison packages" also can get you more. While it isn't widely advertised, some schools will "match" another school's FA offer if you send them the official FA letter from the other school.

Finally, biology is one of the most popular majors, as others have said. Due to supply and demand, a BA or BS in biology is thus not particularly valuable. When I worked in industry at a company that hired both scientists and engineers, we hired BS biologists at the same pay rate as HS graduates with no college, sadly. BS chemists were paid considerably more (hired in at a salary level 11 or 12 vs. a 7 for biologists) and any engineering degree holders were paid even more to start. Tacking the word "engineering" on the degree seems to have market value. If she's interested in medicine, look for Biomedical Engineering programs, for example (or just major in history, get all A's, and then go get an MD). Industrial and Civil Engineers can do quite a bit of environmental work. Stanford has a program called "Bioengineering." Research is just as interesting in all of these fields if she is interested in research careers, but again some fields pay more to researchers than others. She should really think about this. She won't get good advice from the college personnel, who often tell students it doesn't matter what she majors in . . . in some ways that is true, and in some ways it is a lie.

What if she does biochemistry does that help with any of these issues? She did well in Chemistry as well. As far as stem a number of her friends are in the STEM program at her school. Based on her test and exam results she was one of two students not already applying that the teachers specifically recommended for the program (that was her freshman or sophmore year).  She decided not to because the schedule was so strict we would not be able to take other classes that were important to her (latin and drama).  I just don't want to force her to do something she herself is not interested in doing. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said I don't know, work in a lab, work in research (I work in research)
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 11:09:29 AM by partgypsy »

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2020, 11:05:55 AM »
Questbridge is for low income students who need hand holding for the application process. Think foster kids and kids who are first generation going to college.
Absolutely False!  Questbridge was the best decision my 3rd college grad child made!  Check out the universities Questbridge partners with!  She was able to go to her first choice, on a full ride + spending money (60K a semester) AND her scholarship was not dependent on her major, so she was able to change it a year in, and still graduate in 8 semesters with no debt! PM me if there are any questions you would like answered about Questbridge.

Thanks for letting me know! The deadline is Sep 29 if we want to do the Questbridge thing, but I discarded looking further. Maybe I'll revisit if there's enough time.

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2020, 11:15:48 AM »
Here's a question. One of the more interesting things about my daughter is simply how her brain works. She's into games so much so she creates games. None that she's marketed or sold, but she will just do for fun and then play with her friends. When we had hermit crabs she created a box with multiple doors that they could come out of, and created a gambling game we played with friends with cards and chips (it was actually really fun!). She created a card game that was a choose your own adventure. She made some weird game that used pieces from both chess pieces, chips and cards. Now that she is older she plays D & D and other role playing games and often DMs with adventures that she wrote (latest one was a shapeshifter on a train murder mystery). She is also one of those people who when you do play board games she will figure out the underlying rules very quick (what is important to focus on, what is not) to be very good/win at the game. My little brother was the same way. Is that something she can/should mention in her essay or in list of hobbies or would that be seen in a negative light (focused on trivial things)? Personally I think it speaks well both to her abstract way she thinks and her playful/literary side but that's just me. She also just makes things into games. Labor day weekend she was bored so she did a jigsaw puzzle. But it wasnt enough to do one she did 5 at the same time. A couple years ago I saw a test she filled out where she had to both give a definition and use it into a sentence a list of words. The sentences while correctly using the word were hilarious.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 11:43:50 AM by partgypsy »

mozar

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #43 on: September 14, 2020, 03:59:48 PM »
It's not so much that it's trivial is that it's not that impressive that she can make a jigsaw puzzle. If she won the world championship from the World Jigsaw Federation that would be impressive.
There is a lot of information to be found about what college's are expecting if you enter "best college essays" in your favorite search engine.

partgypsy

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #44 on: September 14, 2020, 04:49:37 PM »
Gosh. So much information. OK I will forward to daughter. She's still at the beach, but maybe regroup over weekend. Really wished we started this process in summer (way too much downtime)

Indio

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #45 on: September 14, 2020, 06:49:47 PM »
We went through the college process this year and the area that had the biggest savings impact was AP classess. Private colleges we looked at would only accept 2 AP's instead of all 8 classes that were taken during high school. The state school accepted all 8 AP because the scores were 4 and 5's on the exams. In addition to two online summer school courses (summer and winter break classes are cheaper), all of the credits meant a start as a sophmore saving a year of tuition. State school offered merit based aid too. The future for merit based aid package is not something I am counting on because many states are having budget shortfalls this year.

The college president was interviewed recently and indicated school had a multi-million $ budget shortfall this year due to fewer students on dining and housing plan. Even though enrollment was up several hundred students, the profit center was housing and food. Dining plan works out to $1k per month. Oddly enough, our family doesn't eat $1k worth of organic food a month.

better late

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #46 on: September 14, 2020, 07:00:02 PM »
Here's a question. One of the more interesting things about my daughter is simply how her brain works. She's into games so much so she creates games. None that she's marketed or sold, but she will just do for fun and then play with her friends. When we had hermit crabs she created a box with multiple doors that they could come out of, and created a gambling game we played with friends with cards and chips (it was actually really fun!). She created a card game that was a choose your own adventure. She made some weird game that used pieces from both chess pieces, chips and cards. Now that she is older she plays D & D and other role playing games and often DMs with adventures that she wrote (latest one was a shapeshifter on a train murder mystery). She is also one of those people who when you do play board games she will figure out the underlying rules very quick (what is important to focus on, what is not) to be very good/win at the game. My little brother was the same way. Is that something she can/should mention in her essay or in list of hobbies or would that be seen in a negative light (focused on trivial things)? Personally I think it speaks well both to her abstract way she thinks and her playful/literary side but that's just me. She also just makes things into games. Labor day weekend she was bored so she did a jigsaw puzzle. But it wasnt enough to do one she did 5 at the same time. A couple years ago I saw a test she filled out where she had to both give a definition and use it into a sentence a list of words. The sentences while correctly using the word were hilarious.

IMHO she should definitely talk about what you've described above in her essay.  What a fun and interesting kid! I think anything a student can write that would help her "come to life" on the page is valuable and this definitely fits the bill.  Admissions people will remember her. I can imagine her having a wonderfully positive impact on her college community.

Abe

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Re: College financial aid advice
« Reply #47 on: September 14, 2020, 11:50:38 PM »
Plenty of people have already chimed this, but I'll chime again:
A prestigious private school (Ivy league or similar) will often end up being less out of your pocket than your state schools.

Personal case study:
Our flagship state school is giving us an expected family contribution of the full price, which is over $20K per year.
An ivy league school is giving us an expected family contribution of $5K-$6K per year
and no loans or work study.

These places have the same information from us. The same income that is considered too high for any need-based aid at one school is considered a modest income at another school that has more resources. So, it's very hard to predict which schools you will be able to afford before you have the financial aid letters from the various schools.

I did find the USA Today's graphic for each school that shows what percentage of students get 100% of their financial need met to be very helpful . . . schools that are low on that metric probably aren't going to surprise your daughter with a giant scholarship package.

My advice is to just fill out the FAFSA, CSS, and any additional school-specific forms, tell your daughter to apply broadly to different types of schools, and see what each school offers. The advice to follow up with the Financial Aid office of her top choice to see if they will come up with more money is also a good one. I know for sure it doesn't always work, but I also know from personal experience that it can work . . . and the earlier you ask them, the more likely it is to work. Having "comparison packages" also can get you more. While it isn't widely advertised, some schools will "match" another school's FA offer if you send them the official FA letter from the other school.

Finally, biology is one of the most popular majors, as others have said. Due to supply and demand, a BA or BS in biology is thus not particularly valuable. When I worked in industry at a company that hired both scientists and engineers, we hired BS biologists at the same pay rate as HS graduates with no college, sadly. BS chemists were paid considerably more (hired in at a salary level 11 or 12 vs. a 7 for biologists) and any engineering degree holders were paid even more to start. Tacking the word "engineering" on the degree seems to have market value. If she's interested in medicine, look for Biomedical Engineering programs, for example (or just major in history, get all A's, and then go get an MD). Industrial and Civil Engineers can do quite a bit of environmental work. Stanford has a program called "Bioengineering." Research is just as interesting in all of these fields if she is interested in research careers, but again some fields pay more to researchers than others. She should really think about this. She won't get good advice from the college personnel, who often tell students it doesn't matter what she majors in . . . in some ways that is true, and in some ways it is a lie.

What if she does biochemistry does that help with any of these issues? She did well in Chemistry as well. As far as stem a number of her friends are in the STEM program at her school. Based on her test and exam results she was one of two students not already applying that the teachers specifically recommended for the program (that was her freshman or sophmore year).  She decided not to because the schedule was so strict we would not be able to take other classes that were important to her (latin and drama).  I just don't want to force her to do something she herself is not interested in doing. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said I don't know, work in a lab, work in research (I work in research)

I'd put in a plug for biochemistry as a major, but it is not easy and would let her decide after some experience in college. It's too early to know at this point. She should consider 1-2 subjects (not necessarily science, etc) that she likes the most and decide which would be a better major, but then take classes in the other subject so she's not bored. I did biochemistry and anthropology, which was a good balance and kept me from being too bored with studying one or the other. Both helped me in medicine (one to be a good doctor, another to be a good listener). You don't need to be an expert in either during college, so get a broad education. It is more practical to choose a non-humanities major if she wants to do research and earn money in industry. If she wants to go into medicine, no one cares about the major as long as she does well in the pre-requisites (which are mostly biology & chemistry). Even though I liked those classes, and clearly the biology ones are important, it seems the sheer boredom of those classes weeds out people who aren't committed to the boring, boring work required in med school and afterwards. 

I'd recommend putting the games thing in the "fun thing about you" section of the application. I'm not sure it'll describe her fully enough as a person for the main essay.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 11:55:27 PM by Abe »