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There are net price calculators that are specific to your school or you can do a general one, like through Newsweek. I've been surprised about what gets excluded, and we qualify for need-based aid: your retirement monies don't count, there is a small business exclusion, basically they count cash if you have a lot of it, and your wages.

In order to find out whether your daughter qualifies for merit aid, you have to get pretty deep in the weeds with each school. She can also spend time applying for scholarships-most folks I've talked to say their time filling out those applications ends up paying about $25 per hour once they get their awards.

My son got one scholarship offer through his website, for wrestling. Like you said, a private East Coast school looking to balance their geographic pull, I think. In the end, though, even after the generous merit scholarship ($30,500 per year) and with need-based aid, it would've left him at least $50,000 in debt. He ended up in the honors program at an in-state school and can't wait to get started!
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