D's chances

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: D's chances
By Deb9832 (Deb9832) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 03:11 pm: Edit

Any thoughts on my d's chances for Brown? Also, we will need Financial Aid (need based) - would it be a mistake to apply ED?

SATI: 1380
GPA: W 4.7 UW: 3.9
SATII: take in Oct.
ACT: 30
14 AP's - 7 taken in Junior year, 7 planned this year

Many EC's including:
Field Hockey
Track & Field
Year Book Editor
Newspaper reporter
Steering Committee Officer

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 03:48 pm: Edit

What is her class rank (unweighted)? Also, what were her junior year AP scores?

I think her SAT is a bit low. Her ECs look OK. Hard to say much more w/o more info, but it's worth a shot!

If you think you qualify for need-based aid, I don't think it's a big problem to apply ED. But Brown is known for not giving as good aid as some other ivies.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

Yes, it is a mistake to apply ED if you need financial aid. Yes, they will give it to you, but you have made a commitment to attend if they meet your need as THEY calculate it. In other words, they could decide to meet your need with, say, $22,000 in loans (over four years), and you really don't have any recourse because they have in fact met all need. The only condition under which you are not bound is if they have not met all need.

If you decide not to attend after an ED acceptance, be clear that many schools DO communicate with other schools to which you may be applying. They don't even need to tell you that they are doing so.

Secondly, if you end up turning down an ED, you've messed it up for all other kids in that school. The GC's reputation may be on the line, the school's reputation may be on the line, and you may simply place a bad taste in the admissions department that may continue to exist for years.

Early Decision is supposed to me exactly that: Early DECISION. You have agreed to forego other opportunities, including comparing financial aid offers from other schools, in exchange for an earlier decision (and perhaps a leg up in admissions.) If you can do this, then ED may be right for you. The school gains some certainty as to whom they will admit, and, crucially, a beginning sense of what chunk that is going to take out of their financial aid budget. They will have lived up to their end of the contract; you are expected to live up to yours.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:39 pm: Edit

Mini -- but isn't it true that the ED contract has an "out" for financial reasons? It would be important to look at the language of that clause -- it may be that getting a loan-heavy package would qualify for the out.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:47 pm: Edit

None that I've seen. Provided they've met your need, as they determined it, there isn't an "out" - you were supposed to consider that before you applied. (Yes, there are emergencies, like parent dropped dead, etc.) And since for many, many students, loan-heavy packages are the norm, why would that ever be considered an "out"?

By Fredmurtz2 (Fredmurtz2) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:55 pm: Edit

http://financialaid.brown.edu/Content.aspx?CbkId=72 and http://financialaid.brown.edu/Content.aspx?CbkId=58#fapackage may be of use to you in considering ED.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:59 pm: Edit

I just reviewed 6 "early decision" contracts at major schools. Not a single one includes in the contract the "out" for financial reasons. All of them begin with language regarding getting information early about what to reasonably expect from the college in need-based aid, and not to apply unless you think that will be sufficient. None would be pinned down except to say that packages usually include grants/loans/workstudy.

Columbia went even further. In their Q and As, they said that Columbia only releases 2 or 3 candidates a year that way, and then ONLY for students to apply to less expensive alternatives, and specifically named "state schools". They will NOT release you to apply to their direct competitors, even for financial reasons. (And they are likely to inform their competitors as a courtesy, just as they would like to be informed in return.)

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Thanks, Mini, for correcting my incorrect assumption! I have to admit I was just repeating what others here have said.

In that case, one should really be certain about being able to follow through w/the ED commitment! I hope that schools will be generous with info about aid pre-ED deadlines (yeah, right!).

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 05:28 pm: Edit

I don't know about Brown, but my kids' u will tell ED parents up front what the financial aid package is likely to be if the student is admitted. There is an online calculator, and at an info session we attended they invited parents to contact them and verify the numbers.

By Deb9832 (Deb9832) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 05:37 pm: Edit

Thanks, Rhonda. Forgot to include the class rank. She is 10 out of 267. Also , all 4's on the APs for Junior Year.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 05:37 pm: Edit

Which u? Of course, the one that should always be accurate is Princeton, since they give no loans. Brown's average 4-year package includes $16k in loans, which means that some are significantly higher. All of the schools invite folks to explore these questions before applying ED -- if they accept you ED, they do want you (and have probably deferred someone else to make room for you), so you can understand why they'd be pissed if you walked off.

By Deb9832 (Deb9832) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:15 pm: Edit

Class rank is 10/267. 4's on all Junior APs

By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:40 pm: Edit

This is a good thread. There are some very serious pros and cons to ED.

I thought FA packages were calculated by FASFA and not subjective. Now I'm hearing that schools use their own calculations.

ED is looking less and less attractive to me (the mom = the bill owner)

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:46 pm: Edit


Just attended an info session at Harvard (which your S decided not to consider ). Re: financial aid, the adcom officer mentioned that applicants should consult the College Board website for a rough estimate since each family's situation is bound to be different. Another point she mentioned is that Harvard does not take into account the primary residence in calculating assets. The adcom seemed to think this was unique to Harvard. So, in other words, each college calculates need differently.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 06:47 pm: Edit

Let's put it this way -- with the same FASFA, four of my d.'s offers (the ones I remember) varied by as much as $12,000 per year (a total of $48k!), and varied in loan amounts per year from $0 to $4475 (or $0 to $17,700.)

Other variations were including personal spending or not in the totals, including trips home in the totals, and including health insurance or not in the totals.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 07:01 pm: Edit

well, a couple of yrs back the ED contract we looked at did have an out if the FA wasn't adequate. My h called the admissions office to clarify and was told that we (the family and student) made the final determination as to whether the aid was adequate; kid was deferred and then waitlisted. Any connection?? Who knows?? Like Mini we ended up with vastly varying FA packages during RD: amounts of aid differed up to 25% and the best offers came with no loans-- all from comparable *need-blind* schools. I continue to have a sense that schools snap up a majority of the most competitive students (SAT above 1500, val or sal, etc) during EA/ED and then have to negotiate to woo the remainder in this category.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 07:10 pm: Edit

To gage her chances, check out the archived threads for Brown, under Individual Schools/Ivy League. Look under Subject headings: "RD", "Waitlisted". Accepted and rejected class of 2008 lists their stats.

D's SAT score is 100+ points below most accepted apps from last year....Can she boost those scores??

One CC parent said Ivy League odds for a non-legacy, non-recruited athlete, non-hook applicant are 20 to 1. That's a sensible way to look at it....IMHO.

By Deb9832 (Deb9832) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 08:26 pm: Edit

I understand from a few other posts that the essay is real important here. In fact one of the admissions reps told my D that she should gamble a little on the subject of the essay. As a result she is considering writing (in a positive way) about how she overcame bulimia which she fought for 4 years - any thoughts how that would be received?

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 09:15 pm: Edit

Yes, Mini, it's Princeton I'm talking about. Wow, that's a huge variation you mention.

Marite, Princeton doesn't look at the primary residence, either. There have been several controversial threads on these boards about the fact that for this reason many parents take money out of savings and put it into their home equity. I seem to remember someone posting a list of the schools that don't include home equity as an asset; can't remember where the link is. I am quite sure it includes many of the highly endowed schools.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 09:58 pm: Edit


Yes, I just related what the adcom said. I would have been very surprised if Princeton were less generous than Harvard since Princeton routinely gives the best financial aid.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Deb9832, Brown has one of the "quirkiest" adcoms of any of the ivies. By that I mean unpredicable, often in a good way. They take a holistic approach and pay a lot of attention to every aspect of the student's background. Your daughter needs to market herself carefully.

1. Her grades, rank and AP results are very good. If I were on the Adcom I'd wonder why the discrepancy between grades and SATI. Is there an imbalance between her math and verbal, i.e., is one much higher which would compensate for a lower score in the other? If not, she should try to get her SATI up, maybe take a help course.

2. Teacher recommendations need to be personal and anectdotal.

3. The essay is, as you were told, very important (Do they still insist on hand-writing?) Personally, I would avoid the topic of bulimia as it may be worrisome in a college setting but the idea of a compelling, life altering event is always good. She needs to get her personality on the page.

4. Does she plan to pursue a sport at Brown? If yes, she should be talking to the coach now. This is a big plus.

5. All selective colleges, and especially Brown, are looking for interesting kids. She has good EC's; she now needs to structure her application so that her passion for one or two of them shines. A list on the application isn't enough. Whatever her consuming interest is (or interests are) should be reinforced in several areas, e.g. recommendations, essays, supplementary information, summer activities. She needs to make herself standout.

6. ED would definitely help, but for sure it's a risk financially. We found Brown's admission office to be difficult to interact with (but in fairness, my son never actually applied). There are a lot of Brown parents on this board. I'm sure they could tell you how best to contact the right people to give you an idea what to expect financially.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Momrath had good points. Adcoms are wary of discrepencies between GPA and SAT. Some aaplicants have high SAT scores with low GPA indicating a lack of committment (boy problem?) and some have high GPA with lower SAT scores indicating that the student might be working very very hard to keep up the performance (more girls?).

Either case gives them pause. They want admitted students to be successful (alumni) and either of the above scenarios is a worry.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit

Marite, curiouser and curiouser. I just googled and found a list of colleges that have decided to consider home equity but cap it. The list includes Yale, MIT, Williams, Amherst, Stanford, Columbia, and Cornell. http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/pf/20020128a.asp So I guess even some of the highly-endowed schools are counting home equity. I really thought most of them had stopped doing so.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit

An interpretation of discrepancy between GPA and scores: low GPA high score: underachiever ("we don't want these lazy students"); high GPA low scores: grade inflation, transcript unreliable.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:07 am: Edit

Aparent: Thanks! Very interesting. It really makes a difference. Those who are house rich but cash poor don't come out well financially at these colleges.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:43 am: Edit

Funny. I thought exactly the opposite - that the formula wildly favors upper middle class students in the high cost zones at the expense of poorer ones who do not possess much in the way of home equity, or who can't afford a home at all.

(I saw it as a plan to allow tuitions to continue to rise, while making upper middle class parents feel good about getting small amounts of aid - which is precisely what I predict will happen in the medium term anyway.

By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 01:29 am: Edit

My take on the original post is that there is a chance at Brown but not a very good one. 14 APs will be very impressive (as are the ECs) but 4s on the tests are not going to be all that impressive. Raising the SAT Is by 100 points would definitely help, but that is unlikely to happen, unless the first set was taken without much prep.

However, Momrath has some great tips for your D to use in a Brown app. And if you are comfortable after reviewing the financial aid info on the Fredmurtz links above, no problem applying ED. (If you aren't comfortable, I wouldn't do it.) ED will help your Ds chances, but even with ED I would not be terribly optimistic.

It might be useful for you and your D to talk about why she likes Brown and see if the two of you can identify some less-selective schools that share those characteristics. In today's admission climate, the most important school on any student's list is a safety -- one that meets the student's needs and interests and is affordable for the family.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:08 am: Edit

Mini, unless you sell your house, you can't have cash to finance your kid's education. There are many homeowners who could not afford to buy their own homes at today's prices. And selling your house is not just a matter of trading down, provided you can find a smaller house or condo at a price you can afford in the same community. It probably involves other considerations such as jobs and schools for the other kids.

By Bluejay (Bluejay) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:37 am: Edit

Yes, but you sure are expected to borrow against that home equity. It seems that the common thread in the financial aid puzzle is current earnings and the ability to borrow. I've done a few calculations and by taking out some savings of about 75,000 thousand the EFC only went down by 1 or 2 thousand dollars. To be perfectly clear I should try it without the home value and built up equity.

A question about EFC and 2 in college. Do most schools truly recognize this after making allowances for each student's income? It's coming out about half of what our EFC is for one in college now. Anyone with personal experience with this?

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:37 am: Edit

Not sure what you mean by "each student's income," Bluejay; our kids' incomes are strictly their spending money. Re the EFC, we got no aid for our first kid, but once our second applied to college, the EFC for each kid was half of what it had been when the first one was enrolled. With the two of them enrolled, we are now getting aid. Yay! Whew!

By Deb9832 (Deb9832) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:47 am: Edit

Thanks, Momrath. Great insight. To answer your question about the SAT - yes she had a 740 on the Math and 640 Verbal. Although she has played Varsity Field Hockey for three of the four years in High School and been a first string player she does not think she is college level material. Should she still speak with the coach? Thanks for the great info.

By Bluejay (Bluejay) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:50 am: Edit

Thanks for the reply. What I meant by the student income is that for EFC you are listing both the parent income and student income. The parent income would remain the same but the the individual student's income may vary. So for the Expected FAMILY Contribution the bottomline could be a little different. I doubt the financial aid people care if your child uses the income for spending, books, tuition, whatever. Just the fact that they earned some money and are expected to contribute.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 10:00 am: Edit

"Mini, unless you sell your house, you can't have cash to finance your kid's education. There are many homeowners who could not afford to buy their own homes at today's prices. And selling your house is not just a matter of trading down, provided you can find a smaller house or condo at a price you can afford in the same community. It probably involves other considerations such as jobs and schools for the other kids."

On the contrary, I have a friend in California who makes $130k a year, with 3 kids, each of them four years a part, who received not one dime in financial aid, and financed all 3 college educations (all northeast LACs) by simply remortgaging each time. And each time she came out ahead, as within four years, the value of the house went up more than the cost of the education.

Lots of people can't afford ANY houses, you know.

Yes, having tow in college at the same time will reduce EFC in half.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 10:43 am: Edit

Bluejay, do you mean what happens if one kid earns more than the other? Actually, the colleges expect the older ones to earn more in the summer, so their financial aid is a few hundred bucks lower. But the differences otherwise for our kids are very small, because they don't have any other income stream, except for some outside scholarships, which were handled in the usual way. Am I following you?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit


I understand what you are saying. But I also know that people who mortgage their houses put themselves at tremendous risk. The $130k job may disappear overnight. What happens then if the family cannot make the mortgage? This is the sort of situation that colleges such as Harvard and Princeton want to avoid. I believe that Harvard used to factor in housing among assets. It's only in the last few years that it has changed its policy. I would not be surprised if it were not in response to job volatility. I do know of course that many families cannot afford decent housing. But I also expect that they qualify for financial aid, at least at Princeton and Harvard.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 11:30 am: Edit

Last point, first: yes - folks in the lowest 35% of the U.S. population, including those without homes, qualify for financial aid at both Princeton and Harvard. However, as both schools are quick to admit, not too many are admitted, and even fewer decide to attend. The financial aid is not large enough to overcome family income depravation. This, in fact, was the explicit reason Princeton gave for doing away with the loan portion of its financial aid. Statistically, however, it is clear that it hasn't worked, mainly because Princeton (and Harvard) still require very substantial workstudy and summer commitments for funds to go toward tuition, funds that otherwise would be going toward family support. The data is clear - it hasn't worked - the kids need more. (And one CAN make a system of such needbased aid work - one only has to look at what Occidental, Smith, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke have done to make it work.)

People who use their houses as their savings accounts are no more at risk than those who put their money in the bank. Yes, they could lose their jobs, in which case (in both instances), they withdraw money "from the bank". Or liquify - in other words, move. The average American moves every 2.4 years. It's tough, of course, but banking from $130k a year into a mortgage, and then having it (at some level) exempted from EFCs is a double savings, only available to those in the top 10% or so of the population. AND they get a huge mortgate deduction on their taxes. (So what else is new?)

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit


When people buy houses, they don't do so with the idea that they can mortgage it to pay for their kids' education. A friend of mine was offered a job in the Boston area and nearly did not take it. He was astonished that a house comparable to what he had in Pittsburgh went for 8 times what it would cost there. But in the end, he had no choice. He took the job.

There are many ways in which people with the same level of income choose to spend their money. As we've seen on these boards, some parents plunk down for a Porsche and a Hummer then expect their kids to attend state U or put in for financial aid. If colleges were to decide what is a more or less acceptable way of spending money, there would be no end to it.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:03 pm: Edit

So there should be an end to it. A house is a fixed investment, like any other investment. It isn't a depreciating asset like a Porsche or a Hummer. It can be leveraged, unlike a Porsche or a Hummer. It is a bankable asset, like a stock or a bond, and, given that the average American moves so frequently, often trades like it.

Your friend purchased the bankable asset. Probably put 5% down in a rising market. That was his choice, of course -- he could have rented. Half the population doesn't have that choice.

Not too many people who have children figure on spending $168k per child on their future college education. So? The fact that they don't think clearly doesn't affect their EFC.

Colleges DO decide what are more or less acceptable ways of spending money. They do it so often with poorer folks, they would be shocked to hear you suggest otherwise. Princeton, for example, decides that summer earnings, and workstudy earnings, should go toward tuition bills rather than support of family or younger siblings. Virtually every college other than Princeton assumes that a poor student's future spending should be directed at repaying their student loans rather than saving for graduate school. (Prestigious private professional schools seem to agree, which is why they have so few poorer people attending.) And, the thing is, for these poorer folks, this is likely a much higher percentage of their income than the parents who decide to plunk down for the Porsche, or build up their bankable assets.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:03 pm: Edit

Mini, what need-based aid work system are you referring to at Smith, Holyoke, etc.?

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:28 pm: Edit

>>Virtually every college other than Princeton assumes that a poor student's future spending should be directed at repaying their student loans rather than saving for graduate school.>>

Well, a loan is a loan and must be repaid. Don't banks also assume that's what you must do? And if your house has a lien on it, does it matter that your whole family will lose it if the loan, aka mortgage, cannot be repaid? Yes, the Porsche depreciates. But owning one has little to do with where jobs and schools are, and I assume people do not sleep in one.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 02:27 pm: Edit

"When people buy houses, they don't do so with the idea that they can mortgage it to pay for their kids' education"

At least a few do. When we bought our house we saw it as an investment and with the idea that we would either mortgage or sell to pay for the kids' education. It hasn't yet been necessary to do either but the possibility is always there for us. We have a wonderful realtor on hold LOL

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 02:40 pm: Edit

My parents took out a second mortgage to pay our tuitions, when there were several of us in college.

I would also be prepared to do it if I had to. Our house has tripled in value over the last six years. People borrow against their house in order to remodel -- i would think a child's education is a better investment!

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

As has frequently been pointed out on these boards, the EFC has little relation to what most of us think of as reality, which means that no one, even at a school that does not "count" home equity, is skating along with a million-dollar investment while collecting grants! Colleges expect parents to pay their fees over 10-14 years. Many of not most do that with a combination of savings, educational loans, and home equity loans -- whether the college "counts" home equity or not.

I agree that attention must be paid to students living in poverty whose families rely on their income. In previous generations of my own family, this issue kept several members from going to college. But I don't see why the finger gets pointed at home equity. That's a divisive tactic that serves no one, imnsho. These colleges can afford to deal with both problems.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 03:58 pm: Edit


I agree!

By Momrath (Momrath) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 01:09 am: Edit

Deb9832, Back to your daughter. . . I'm out of my depth on Field Hockey. Brown is Division I so it's more competitive than some of the LACs would be. It sure wouldn't hurt to contact the coach.

740 Math is great and can be used to her advantage, especially if she demonstrates an interest in pursuing math/science. Brown has terrific sciences and (this is just my impression; I don't have statistical backup) it seems to me that science girls are in demand.

640 Verbal is a weakpoint as Brown is very verbally oriented. With ECs like journalism that assume verbal facility, this score seems on the lowside. Maybe her English grades, AP scores could compensate? I suggest that she take a course (or get a book) and take it again. The SATII writing score will also be significant.

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