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Articles / Paying for College / College Discounts for Twins?

College Discounts for Twins?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | June 8, 2013
Question: I have identical twins in 11th grade that want to attend the same college. Are there universities in the Northeast that offer a discount for 2 talented, top 10 of 800+ graduating class. We have 1 Sophomore in college and 2 others under 10. Annual income is 65-70 and don't want to shortchange their options and risk saving for retirement.

There are some colleges and civic organizations that advertise special deals for twins. (See http://www.twinstuff.com/college_scholarships.html ) But I don't think that any of the twin scholarships in the Northeast will offer what you seek (e.g., George Washington U. has a half-off deal for a second child when parents pay full freight for the first but you'll be eligible for a lot of need-based aid and shouldn't have to pay the total cost of either tuition; Wilson College in PA offers a scholarship of 45% tuition when both twins enroll. But this small, struggling, newly coed school probably isn't a great fit for your top-decile children).

Thus, “The Dean" advises you to look for a college that meets full need for all applicants with minimal loans and/or one that is likely to lure top recruits with merit aid, regardless of whether or not they show up with a sibling in tow. Given your situation (one child already in college; two strong students about to go; a couple more waiting in the wings) and a low (by college-tuition standards) household income, the “identical twins" factor should not loom large in your college search. More critical will be finding a place that both your current 11th graders will love that is also financially stable … and generous. Because your twins are excellent students, there should be many options that fill the bill.

I suggest that you have some fun with College Confidential's SuperMatch: http://www.collegeconfidential.com/college_search/The twins can complete the SuperMatch questionnaire by selecting joint preferences for size, location, majors, etc. Once they've generated a “Results" list, you can check each college that meets all or most of your preferences to see if it will also meet all or most of your financial need. You can also alter the preferences and try again to see what changes. On the second time around, be sure to check the box that says, “I'm interested in schools where I would be well above average, to increase my financial aid opportunities." (It's under the “My Scores" heading.) This will help you to hone in on merit-aid colleges. However, given your relatively low household income and the number of children who will be in college at the same time, you should also do well at colleges that don't offer merit aid but that promise to meet full-need. (Financial aid formulas consider the number of siblings in school concurrently although the adjustments in Expected Family Contribution that each college makes because of this will vary.) Many of the most sought-after colleges and universities offer only need-based aid, but it's usually very reasonable. These schools may be good matches for your twins, but they are also extremely competitive, so make sure that you've lined up “Realistic" and “Safe" options, too. (BUT … one warning: If your income is only $65/70K but you have high assets socked away, you won't do as well with the need-based-aid colleges and will have to focus on merit-aid schools.)

If you haven't done so already, you should also have each of your children complete the FastWeb questionnaire (www.fastweb.com). This will help them to ferret out a broad range of scholarships for which they should be eligible, including (but not limited to) those that are aimed at twins or even specifically identical twins.

Finally, keep in mind that financial aid offers are usually somewhat negotiable. So, after your twins have received their college acceptances, if you feel that the aid that's offered is deficient, you can appeal. When you point out that you'll be sending two freshmen and not just one to this college, you might get a little bit of extra wiggle room that the parents of singletons will not.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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