How do I decide what schools will provide the most financial support?Answered
I have a fairly high ACT score and GPA (34 super score, 33 composite, 3.9), I have several leadership positions in organizations, and over 100 hours of community service. I want to apply to schools that will offer me the most scholarship and grant money, but also give me a good chance to get into Medical School after I finish my undergrad studies. I also want schools that will accept my Ohio CCP college credit, as I have around two years of college credit towards a biology degree so far. I don’t really care about Ivy or not, as long as they are schools in good standing that will provide a quality education. My parents make around 100k a year combined, so I won’t be getting a ton of FAFSA support, but I can’t afford college without scholarships.
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I'm going to level with you—there may not be many schools (or any) that offer everything that you want, and you may need to accept some trade-offs between some of these goals. Each of these objectives has a pretty clear answer, but they may not overlap in a very satisfying way.
With regard to scholarship or grant money, you're basically looking at a V-shaped graph (imagine the X-axis is general prestige and the Y-axis is the amount of money a school might give you). While your parents making 100k/yr combined won't get you a ton of FAFSA support, that would net you a sizable amount of need-based aid from top-of-the-top universities. For example, Harvard offers enough need-based financial aid to make the costs of attending (tuition, fees, room and board) free for families making less than $65k/yr, and going up to $150k/yr families typically are asked to pay about 10% of their income. That would probably be about $10k/yr for you. So, if you were to be able to get into a school like Harvard, another Ivy, or another top school that guarantees to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need (e.g. Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, USC, UChicago, etc.), they would likely end up at or even below the same cost as attending a local public school. Financially, aside from an in-state public school, that would be your best option. These would also give you a fantastic jumping-off point for medical school, as their resources are pretty unparalleled and while they're competitive to get into, with a few exceptions, they're usually pretty conducive to higher GPAs and the good grades one needs to get into medical school.
On the flipside, with your stats, you would likely get a significant amount of merit aid from more regional private colleges that want to draw very competitive students. These are schools with less than national reach—so depending on where you're located, the ones you're aware of might change. Say you're interested in New York City, these would be schools like Hofstra or Fordham. For Ohio, examples might be Kenyon or Denison.
However, you'll find a lot of schools between those two poles that won't offer the same amount of money. Especially from out-of-state public schools between those ranges, like the UC schools, UT-Austin, UIUC, etc. Private schools between those edges might offer you some amount of money, but in the end would likely still be much more expensive than either the Harvard group or the Fordham group (to give it some shorthand). Schools in that group would include places like NYU that do not guarantee to meet full demonstrated need, and typically offer relatively little merit aid.
In-state public schools are your other best option financially, and you're lucky to have a flagship state school in Ohio State that's extremely strong academically and typically offers a pretty decent amount of merit aid to in-state students. Aside from that, you also have a "public Ivy" in Miami University that would give you another academically-strong option with the potential for substantial merit aid. Both of those would provide you with a good foundation for med school admissions, more or less equivalent to the other schools I've mentioned that would provide strong financial support. The added benefit to Ohio State/Miami is that, at least from what I know, your Ohio CCP credits will almost definitely transfer. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess they'd be less likely to do so at the schools I mentioned previously.
So that's the long answer. The short answer is that Ohio State and Miami of Ohio are probably your best options for what you're looking for. Ivy-tier schools would also give you equivalent (or potentially even more) financial support and great med school prospects, and would have more funding, amenities, and research opportunities, but might not take your Ohio CCP credits. Hope that helps!
Maybe a small private school in the area maybe case western?
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