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Been There, Done That, Ready to Write the Tuition Check: The Results

acceptance road signLast week Wendy Nelson shared her experience of working with her daughter through the college application process. This week she has graciously agreed to reveal the results of the process. Her daughter’s choice, Valparaiso University, is a 50-50 school with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, among the best for institutional aid, in the top 30 for ACT scores,and offers D1 sports. Wendy has an excellent blog, My Kid’s College Choice, where she shares lessons she has learned.

The following lists the schools my daughter applied to, the reasons she applied, and the final results:

Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN – The school she chose. They gave her an $18,000 merit scholarship. Ultimately what sold her on the school was the Christ College honors college. They accept about 85 freshmen each year and they work very closely together through some unique coursework and experiences like producing an entire musical based on the works they study first semester.

Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL – Her second choice. Although it is slightly more competitive and more nationally recognized than Valparaiso, the school doesn’t have a lot of diversity as far as where the students come from. About 85% are from Illinois, mostly Chicago suburbs. I had good luck negotiating with them on cost, they provided a $20,000 merit scholarship, but it still would have cost a few thousand more per year than Valparaiso.

Drake University, Des Moines, IA – My daughter liked it, but thought it seemed farther away and in a head to head competition with her top two schools she didn’t like it as well. They gave decent merit aid ($14,000) and it came out pretty close to Valparaiso in out-of-pocket cost.

University of Chicago – Her reach school.?  She got waitlisted (the only school she didn’t get accepted at) and we didn’t figure her chances were good of getting in off the list based on the number of applicants. We also didn’t think they would offer enough merit or need-based aid to keep it in the running anyway

University of Rochester – Sounded really good on paper, but our deal was that we would wait to see if the financial package was good enough to visit. We were concerned with how far away it was, but it seemed like she would have been with a lot of students very similar to her based on GPA and test scores. She did an off-campus interview with them in Chicago (it seemed like they were good about reaching out to students in other areas of the country).?  Ultimately, we would have had to take out substantial loans for her to attend. They gave her $10,000 in merit aid and a good amount of need-based aid, but ultimately it was the most expensive school on the list and it still would have cost about $10,000 more per year than Valparaiso.

Carthage College, Kenosha, WI – She applied there mainly to see if she could get a full academic scholarship. They give out around 20 great scholarships through a competition. A few are tuition, room and board, a few just full tuition and some 75% of tuition. These are very competitive. They invite around 400 students to come to the campus to compete for the 20 scholarships. She competed but didn’t get one.?  Carthage gave $15,000 merit aid which made the bottom line package was very close to Valparaiso. However, she thought it was a little small and wouldn’t be as challenging.

Hope College, Holland, MI – Liked it ok, but it was a little far and they weren’t very generous on the merit scholarships ($9,000)

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