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I looked back about 6 months or so and didn't see this question answered (though I wouldn't be surprised if it was answered at some point in the past).

What is the best way to check out available financial aid? Or, perhaps I should ask, what's the best way to find schools that are more likely to have generous aid packages?

Details: daughter is US citizen of Asian descent, National Honor Society, lives presently in Arizona (I'm told some schools want regional diversity, so a school back east might favor a western student), taking lots of AP classes. Family is middle-class (so we can't claim poverty).

The University of Arizona is a fine school, but I wouldn't want her to go there just because she can get in-state tuition. Especially if there are other options that would cost about as much after aid packages.

TIA,
1poorguy
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I have not seen any good source of this information but as a parent of two high schoolers I would love to find one. We have learned a lot by talking to other parents about what offers their older kids have gotten.

One thing that seems common is that second and third-tier private schools will give merit aid for a student who is at the top of their typical range of students. The price is that the student is going to a school that is not the best they can get into, and they may not be as challenged. The other side of the coin is that as one of the best students at the school, they may have opportunities such as internships, research positions, etc., that they may not get if they go to a school where they are in the middle of the pack. I have also heard of parents using these offers to negotiate aid packages with better schools.
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One thing that seems common is that second and third-tier private schools will give merit aid for a student who is at the top of their typical range of students.

Many of these schools sent Eldest offers based on the info they got from the SAT scores. While there may be a way to block it, schools seem to be able to access the scores and profiles the student fills out. He got flooded with mail, sadly not from any school he would consider, and the worse the schools reputation the better the award. He also got a great offer from a university where he did a summer program the summer between his Sophomore and Junior year. They had 6 weeks to observe him and clearly went to battle for him, so these programs can be a good way to get a leg up on the competition.

That school was his second choice. He chose an out of state state school that is well known for his major, so we get absolutely nothing in aid. Frankly he probably got in because they were interested in the out of state tuition. That seems to be a very real strategy at state schools these days. While being an out of state student at a state school is the worst scenario for aid, choosing a school with a good reputation is a sound strategy for getting his career off the ground. He is doing an internship this summer, in his field, and bringing in very good money. I am a strong believer in schools that have strong coop and internship programs. It not only helps you pay for school, but gives you a leg up when you graduate.

IP,
now getting flooded with college marketing letters for Youngest
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I haven't seen all the flyers 1poorkid has received. I did see one for this one:

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/...

Seems like a good school, from what little I can see. Decent class size, ranked #27 (among regional universities, if I read it right). Rates as "selective" in their admissions.

For her to go out of state we will need financial aid. We can't be doing $20K per year plus room and board. (Or more.)

Wish I had known about internships at the schools. Too late now, but I thought only businesses (e.g. Intel) did that. And usually they do it for college students, not high school. There are several people at my company who started at college interns who received offers after graduating.

1poorguy
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Wish I had known about internships at the schools. Too late now, but I thought only businesses (e.g. Intel) did that. And usually they do it for college students, not high school. There are several people at my company who started at college interns who received offers after graduating.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. The high school summer program Eldest did we had to pay for. He stayed in a dorm room and had classes/projects centered around his interest, computers, which was a strong point of the school he summered at. It was a great trial run for college, and gave him great exposure to the department he would have majored in, allowing them to check him out an visa versa. Now he is an intern after his freshman year at college, making $1,000/week. That will go a long way towards funding what he needs, and gives this 18 year old some credibility for future internships, as well as a fall back for next year if he can't find a different company he prefers to take for a spin.

There is more to higher ed than what is taught in the classroom. A school with a decent co-op/internship program is the one requirement we are insisting on for our kids. My personal experience with it was fantastic, but I think Youngest has finally bought into it seeing how well it has already worked for his brother.

IP
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...out-of-state tuition and fees are $18,105 (2011-12).

Wow, I would kill for those out of state tuition rates. Heck, that's cheaper than Penn State in state rates! PA state schools do not offer a cheap path to higher ed.

Bellingham WA is supposed to be wonderful.

IP
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http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/...

Link to "best value colleges." Tells you what cost is after getting avg need based grants. Some schools are better at this than others.

IP
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1poorguy: "I haven't seen all the flyers 1poorkid has received. I did see one for this one:

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/......

Seems like a good school, from what little I can see. Decent class size, ranked #27 (among regional universities, if I read it right). Rates as "selective" in their admissions."


Not commenting upon that particular school, but I have learned that one has to really dig through the school webite looking for information.

For example, I found - - -


http://admissions.wwu.edu/tuition/t_scholarship.html#merit

Out of State Student Scholarships


Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WUE)

The WUE Scholarship is a highly competitive four-year merit-based scholarship for incoming freshman who are residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah or Wyoming. Beginning Fall 2012, new recipients of the WUE Scholarship will receive an $8,000 reduction in non-resident tuition. WUE selection is based on information provided in the application for admission, including cumulative GPA, test scores and rigorous coursework. Priority is given to students with a 3.8 unweighted GPA or above. No separate application is necessary. Transfer students are not eligible. Learn more…

Western Achievement Award (WAA)

The Western Achievement Award is a competitive four-year merit-based scholarship for incoming freshman who are not residents of Washington State. Recipients of the WAA scholarship receive a $4,000 reduction in non-resident tuition each year. WAA selection is based on information provided in the application for admission, including cumulative GPA, test scores and rigorous coursework. Priority is given to students with above a 3.6 unweighted GPA. No separate application is necessary. Transfer students are not eligible. Learn more…

Western Award for Excellence (WAE)

The Western Award for Excellence is a highly competitive four-year merit-based scholarship for incoming freshman who are not residents of Washington State or one of the 14 states eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Beginning Fall 2012, new recipients of the WAE Scholarship will receive an $8,000 reduction in non-resident tuition WAE selection is based on information provided in the application for admission, including cumulative GPA, test scores and rigorous coursework. Priority is given to students with a 3.8 unweighted GPA or above. No separate application is necessary. Transfer students are not eligible. Learn more…

It appears that no separate applications are necessary, but unless (1) you apply and get admitted, you might never known, unless before applying you really dig through the school website.

I have found once school that waives out-of-state tuition for non-residents with good grades and board scores, and another that has a grid box where the better board scores, the larger the scholarship.

Regards, JAFO
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Sorry for posting over myself, but I assumed you were aware of Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE):

See: http://www.wiche.edu/wue

"Students who are residents of WICHE states are eligible to request a reduced tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state.

The WUE reduced tuition rate is not automatically awarded to all eligible candidates. Many institutions limit the number of new WUE awards each academic year, so apply early!

WICHE members include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states."

Id.

Regards, JAFO
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Nice find, JAFO!

Seems not all schools are quite so detailed in their info, though. I was poking around Wellesley and only found this:

http://www.wellesley.edu/admission/finaid

Not replete with detail. Though good to know that substantial aid is possible.

1poorguy
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Honestly, I wasn't even aware the school existed until I saw their flyer yesterday.

It's so different now. When I went to school the internet was AOL (and Prodigy). The sorts of webpages and information available now dwarfs what it was then. And there are literally thousands of colleges to choose from. I'm learning how to start sifting through this (hopefully 1poorkid is better at it!). It's almost too much information.

First you have to identify candidate schools, then you have to see if you can afford them (with or without aid, as the case may be). Which is why I was hoping for some resource that looked at aid first (since there's no point in looking at a $40K per year college if there's little aid).

I did spot the "value" college section of US News. Seems US News has more consolidated info than any other source I've found so far.

1poorguy
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First you have to identify candidate schools, then you have to see if you can afford them (with or without aid, as the case may be). Which is why I was hoping for some resource that looked at aid first (since there's no point in looking at a $40K per year college if there's little aid).

You won't really know what kind of financial aid package you get unless you apply and are admitted. Some schools promise to meet the families full financial need, based on their Expected Family Contribution.
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-col...
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1poorguy: "Nice find, JAFO!"

You are welcome.

Seems not all schools are quite so detailed in their info, though. I was poking around Wellesley and only found this:

http://www.wellesley.edu/admission/finaid

Not replete with detail. Though good to know that substantial aid is possible."


Seven Sisters school.

You can also look to see whether Admissions is need blind (a good thing) and whether the wchools meets all calculated need (good, but not as much as it sounds because EFC can be larger than you like and part of the need might be met by loans).

Also, as another poster noted, you will never really know the full aid package unless you apply and are admitted.

As long as you are clear with your D, I would not automatically omit any very favorite school on the bases of posted costs (because posted costs are kind of like hotel rooms costs posted on the door of each room in that they oftern bear little relationship to reality). Also, some schools tack on way more in fees, which are not disclosed in tuition advertisements, but are sometimes chraged by the class hour [which smells like tuition to me] as opposed to a flat rate fee [e.g., $75 per semester to use the on campus recreatin faciliteies]).

Regards, JAFO
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What is the best way to check out available financial aid? Or, perhaps I should ask, what's the best way to find schools that are more likely to have generous aid packages?

As already mentioned, you may not know the full aid until you apply. We have not found one source that provides all the information that you are seeking. You have to do a lot of leg work (or finger work) searching the websites of various universities or colleges. When we searched for our older daughter, we found that some smaller colleges offered scholarships that would bring down the cost to match our local university. For example, one university in VA offered my daughter $20k per year that would bring their cost of $41k down to the level we are paying for an in-state university. Also the University of South Carolina was offering in-state rates to NC students who met certain grade point and SAT scores.

You should also look for every little scholarship you can find. Since your daughter is of Asian descent, it wouldn't surprise me there is some kind of scholarship for kids of Asian descent. My daughter received a scholarship from a group that supports daughters of Italian descent.

PSU
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www.fastweb.com tracks a lot of scholarships, grants, loans and contests for college money. You fill out a profile and they match items to your profile.

Minxie
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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 getrecruited.com 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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If you're looking for a low parental contribution, hope your kid gets into Harvard or MIT or Cornell or Princeton:

"Harvard Financial Aid Initiative for low and moderate income students, under which parents with incomes currently below $65,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs."
http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do
http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/financial_aid/hfai...


"The first $6,000 of financial need is met with an offer of a student loan/term-time job. The remaining need, if any, is met with MIT scholarship."
http://web.mit.edu/facts/tuition.html

"Parent Contribution Initiative
Families with a total family income of less than $60,000, and total assets of less than $100,000 (including primary home equity), will have no parent contribution. Learn more."
http://www.finaid.cornell.edu/cost-attend/financial-aid-init...

Princeton's financial aid packages include no loans:
http://www.princeton.edu/admission/financialaid/whats_great/...
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