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View Full Version : How much does applying for fin aid affect your admission chances?


lucidwolfe
05-08-2010, 04:48 PM
Thread delete

LockT31W
05-08-2010, 09:54 PM
it's a tricky question, which really depends on if you're a guy or girl. if you're a guy, you can bet on the scholarship and risk not getting one, because you have two more years during NS to apply to US colleges again.

if you're a girl, it gets trickier. you might still want to apply for financial aid at MOST US colleges, but you might simply wanna have some US backups - maybe just don't apply for financial aid at one or two schools where you feel you'd get in easily. so that you at least have some uni to go to if you get a scholarship.

Run
05-08-2010, 11:04 PM
I agree with what Lock has posted. Whether you are a guy who needs needs to serve NS or a girl would (and should) really make a big difference on your application "strategy". I wouldn't bank on the uncertain. If you're a girl, perhaps what Lock has said is perhaps the most logical way to go. Always good to have backups. :)

One piece of advice: Absolutely do not count on Berkeley or UMich to give you financial aid. These universities tend to have a large number of undergraduate students, so it's harder for them to provide aid to students, much less international students. Also, because they are run by state funds, which is made up of taxpayer money, this makes providing aid to international students a rather sensitive issue which most public universities would rather avoid. Hence, it is very unlikely you will get aid from them. I think it will drastically affect your chances if you apply for aid at these universities.

As for the other universities, which are private universities, applying for need-based financial aid at will definitely hurt your chances. They have many outstanding applicants who do not require financial aid, and unless you are have certain unique qualities or achievements that the other applicants do not possess, it's unlikely they'll offer a place to you. However, the good news is, these colleges do offer financial aid to international students. I've heard of a few (very few actually) people receiving financial aid from Columbia and UPenn, so I guess it's not impossible for Singaporeans.

Actually, most of the people I know who received generous financial aid from US universities mostly got them from schools which are perceived as "lower tier" schools by Singaporeans, such as Vanderbilt, Rice and some liberal arts colleges. If you want a US undergraduate education and financial aid, you might want to try applying to these colleges. It's not just the Ivies and Chicago, Stanford and MIT that provide quality education, there are many other colleges that provide an equally good undergraduate education and experience, and are recognized by employers and other universities (if you are thinking of going for postgraduate studies).

Oh, some colleges like Duke University, Wesleyan University and Rice University do offer very generous scholarships to internationals. Of course, it's based on merit, so it's not easy to get them. But they're bond-free, so maybe that's something you'd like.

I think there are bank loans, but if I'm not wrong, there's a limit on the amount which you can borrow. Not sure if it's enough to cover the costs of your US undergraduate education though.

ekyhdeveloper
05-08-2010, 11:12 PM
I think Run and Lock have made it quite clear, but I have just this to say:

For most Singaporeans, getting a scholarship (out of so many scholarships) is by far easier than getting into a school like Cornell or Columbia with financial aid. I know alot of very qualified people who have failed, so it counts partly as personal experience :P; of course that might not happen for you, but this is just my opinion and advice :)

Try this strategy:

1) Apply for an array of scholarships and show them how much you deserve and want them.
2) Apply for those need-aware schools as planned, without financial aid.
3) Apply for need-blind schools like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Dartmouth etc. and cross your fingers every waking moment of your life from Jan 1 to Apr 1.
4) Apply for some local courses, just in case.

Have fun and moisturize your fingers.

Run
05-08-2010, 11:27 PM
Don't forget Amherst! :D

lucidwolfe, I'd recommend that you apply to a few need-aware colleges on financial aid (not all though). But it depends on how much risk you are willing to take. For the universities which you think getting in is more important than getting financial aid, don't apply for aid. And vice versa.

Just my opinion :)

twasher
05-09-2010, 12:56 PM
lucidwolfe,

chances of financial aid from Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Brown, and Carnegie Mellon are almost zero. These are schools well-known to international students and they gets loads of extremely talented international applicants. If you want financial aid from non-need-blind schools, you have to go for liberal arts colleges that are 'unknown' to Singaporeans. Just go take a look at the 'top 30' or whatever liberal arts colleges on US News -- most of them are unknown to Singaporeans but very respected in the US, and in many ways the educational experience they offer is better than what large research universities can offer.

It is also harder for international transfer students to get financial aid -- whatever financial aid for international applicants is limited enough that it is usually reserved mainly for freshmen. So do not count on getting financial aid from a college you transfer to. If you want financial aid, bite the bullet of going to a college that your parents and friends have never heard of. After a couple of years at a liberal arts college, there's a good chance you'll like it so much there that you wouldn't want to transfer anyway.

Finally, my impression is that more and more Singaporeans are learning about Amherst, and admissions there are getting more competitive. I'm not sure that it's any safer a bet than places like Dartmouth any more.

Run
05-09-2010, 01:18 PM
Run, you mentioned that some Singaporeans are able to receive generous fin. aid from Vanderbilt and Rice etc. Can you, if possible, share more details about their grades/portfolio and the amount of aid?

Also, a question on merit scholarships. If I indicate on my application that I do not require financial aid, am I no longer eligible for merit awards as well?

For your reference, I would expect my A level results to be AAAA GP-B H3-merit/dist. I lead a service learning project, was on the EXCO of another, and is an EXCO member of one of my CCAs. I completed 2 research projects, one on math & computer sci., the other materials science. I also topped a Stanford EPGY (http://epgy.stanford.edu/) summer course on quantum mechanics (held in Singapore). The most significant weakness of my resume is the lack of any international-level medals (ie. Olympiads, ISEF etc.), which seems prevalent among my peers whom share the same ambitions for tertiary education. Can anyone assess my chances of getting admitted to universities such as Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Rice, Vanderbilt with aid?

~Thank you once again for your time

Side note: I am female :p

The usual suspects, straight or almost straight 'A's, most have outstanding CCA records. I guess they must have wrote great essays and expressed great interest in attending. I don't usually ask people about their portfolios, so I wouldn't know about all the activities they took part in unless they told me. But one of them got a full ride from Vanderbilt, which means 50k+ a year, which adds up to more than 200k for 4 years? But the amount of aid also depends on how much your family's income is and how much assets you have.

No, you can apply for both financial aid and merit scholarships.

What are you planning on majoring in?

Why do you want to transfer? Most (if not all) top universities offer ZERO financial aid to international transfer students.

Also, you might want to do some research. Maybe you can check out websites such as the Princeton Review and look for schools which provide generous financial aid? You might stand a better chance getting aid from those schools?

ekyhdeveloper
05-09-2010, 01:41 PM
@OP:

Sounds like a plan, apply for a number of safety schools with financial aid and you will get into one of them for sure...or not -- I'm still of the opinion that chances of getting into a relatively respected US university with financial aid are slim, given how unpredictable their admission decisions are. It also depends on how low you're willing to aim, but that might mean they have less or no funding for international students altogether. But I think it won't hurt to try, you might just get very lucky and very happy. :)

In any case, for your applications, I don't think I need to tell you that your hook should probably be regarding your research in math & computer science + your Stanford EPGY. I don't know the extent of your achievements in those areas, but it seems like you'll be able to tell a more convincing story than many local applicants who provide a directionless laundry list of activities.

If all else fails you can always apply to the UK, it may be cheaper. :)

EDIT: Or get a scholarship! You probably stand a good chance.

All the best.

Butterbeer
05-09-2010, 08:24 PM
OP, just bear in mind not to apply to too many schools. it's a bit of waste of money

Northwestern, John Hopkins - rather famous among internationals, especially in Singapore (large Singaporean population). so it would be highly competitive for aid.

Brown, Columbia - total admission rates are sub-10% even this year, so imagine what your chances would be if you were an international seeking aid.

Berkeley - budget is highly stretched, given its a public school.

Cornell - small budget for international students. you may get admitted without the promise of any aid.

UPenn, UChicago - very stingy with international aid.

Carnegie Mellon - not sure.

Rice, Vanderbilt - not as well known among Singaporeans. I think Vanderbilt has given aid to some internationals from Singapore before (for e.g. PRC scholars from Singapore) but don't have any specific cases in mind.

in summary, I believe applying for schools like northwestern and john hopkins are wise choices given your profile, provided you do not apply for aid. Most "second-tier" schools aim to use aid to attract highly qualified internationals who may be of HYPSM-potential but fall short due to the severe unpredictability of the process.These pool of applicants would definitely choose to apply to these schools as "semi-safeties". So you would have to compete with such a pool for aid.

DukeBlue
05-09-2010, 09:21 PM
lucidwolfe, I think in all honesty that applying for financial aid to a need-aware school will make admissions a whole lot tougher.

As a datapoint for your consideration, I think Duke (used to) give out about 25 financial aid packages a year to international students. That's out of 22,000+ applicants (not sure how many of those 22,000 were international apps, but at least a couple thousand, I'm guessing).

Also, check this out if you're interested in merit scholarships in the US: http://igfas.wiki.zoho.com/HomePage.html. It's outdated but you can easily google up the scholarships and schools if the links are outdated/broken.

WendyK
05-11-2010, 04:11 AM
it's a tricky question, which really depends on if you're a guy or girl. if you're a guy, you can bet on the scholarship and risk not getting one, because you have two more years during NS to apply to US colleges again.

if you're a girl, it gets trickier. you might still want to apply for financial aid at MOST US colleges, but you might simply wanna have some US backups - maybe just don't apply for financial aid at one or two schools where you feel you'd get in easily. so that you at least have some uni to go to if you get a scholarship.

Hmm why is this I wonder? Most US programs try to aim away from sexism in almost anything including scholarships..

ekyhdeveloper
05-11-2010, 06:55 AM
Hmm why is this I wonder? Most US programs try to aim away from sexism in almost anything including scholarships..

I don't think Lock had sexism in mind. NS merely gives boys 2 extra years and therefore cycles to apply for scholarships and schools. Unless girls decide to take gap year(s). Hence the advice.

Run
05-11-2010, 11:03 AM
Yes, there is no sexism involved. Girls (usually) only have one year to apply, so their application "strategy" would be different, usually with more safeties.

As for guys, if they start in J2 or at the end of Poly, they can afford to use one application cycle or two to gamble on getting into the top schools and/or get financial aid (and many of us do).

But in exchange, we guys have to start school two years later and will be older than our foreign and female counterparts. :(

kai0
06-16-2010, 12:37 AM
well my point is applying for financial aid doesn't affect admission chances whether you're a american or international student like us.financial aid are provided so that deserving student could get admission regardless of financial difficulties.i have even readed about a student who turned down invitation from ivy league university because a public university offered him $70000 full scholarship which covered all the expenses of next 4 years.financial aid is our right.:D

ekyhdeveloper
06-16-2010, 12:28 PM
well my point is applying for financial aid doesn't affect admission chances whether you're a american or international student like us.financial aid are provided so that deserving student could get admission regardless of financial difficulties.i have even readed about a student who turned down invitation from ivy league university because a public university offered him $70000 full scholarship which covered all the expenses of next 4 years.financial aid is our right.:D

Barring the need-blind schools, yes it does affect your chances. They even say it on their websites.

DukeBlue
06-16-2010, 02:35 PM
Kai0, I agree that ideally, whether you are US or international should not matter. Sadly this is not an ideal world, and most universities (in fact, all but ~8) will take your financial aid request into account if you're an international student. In fact, a large part of my former job as Vice President of the Duke International Student Council was lobbying the Duke administration for better financial aid towards interantionals, and hopefully an eventual policy change to a need-blind policy.

To some extent it's natural to reserve your money for your own countrymen, because it can cause local resentment -- even here in Singapore there are many Singaporeans who resent foreign students who come here on Singapore-funded scholarships. From that point of view, why should the US taxpayer pay for a non-American's education? The world does not owe us a living (or a top-notch education, as the case may be).

As for the public-school-offered scholarship you mention, those are often merit-based (like Singapore's PSC scholarships) rather than need-based, and thus do not count as financial aid (though the funds are often disbursed by the school's Financial Aid Office, for centralization's sake). These scholarships tend to be offered only to outstanding students whom the university wants to "steal" from other schools. I used to be part of a scholarship committee put together by my Dean, and we offered scholarships to pretty outstanding students from all over the world. Those students often had offers from all the top schools - Princeton, MIT, Harvard etc. We had to fight hard to win over rare talent like that. For top talent like that, finding funding for school is never a problem!