Very long context. I hope you all won't mind-
I am an international student (Indian) needing almost full financial aid (My family EFC is somewhere around $2-4k).
I have a 3.91 GPA (Amherst has its own graph to calculate GPA from grades). No AP/Honor classes offered at my school. SAT score of 1500.
I have one National Award (based on merit) and few regional awards. I have over 1500 hours of community service and have taken leadership positions at different state level organizations. I lead a NGO which got funding from a minister (equivalent to a congressman in the US I guess). I also opened a business in my town and earned over 500,000 Rupees (≈$6,500). I had an investor contact me to invest ≈$20,000 to my business (although I turned down the offer since I would have had to scale my business way too much and it would have quite definitely hurt my studies). I have also organized dozens of events with hundreds of attendants (mostly workshops).
I have done research under a university professor which was published in a regional journal and received local media coverage as well.
My main concern is financial aid.
I like both Trinity College and Amherst. Trinity College is need-aware so I am worried that they might 'want' me but won't be able to afford me (partly because they can probably get 2 or perhaps 3 excellent students for what it’d cost them to admit just me and partly because they were already in financial deficit and the pandemic has drained their finances further). On top of that, Trinity College's 'average financial aid for non-resident aliens' has been going down for the past few years even after increase in COA of the college (i.e. in recent years, they are preferring students who can actually pay for the college). On the other hand, Amherst College is need-blind but an extremely selective college with only a 11% admit rate and even lower for internationals (5% I think). Academically, I think I am in the bottom 50% for Amherst (3.91 GPA, No honor/AP classes offered, 1500 SAT). I think I am academically more capable than this but I had to open my business(the one which I talked about earlier) and had to get another part-time job just to support my family so maybe I can explain that in the common app?
So, my main question is-
Which college should I apply ED1 to? Amherst or Trinity?
I’d say Amherst as you highly value fin aid so ED would provide the most increase in chances. Your ECs are certainly very strong and GPA is probably bottom 50 and SAT is mid 50 if I remember correctly so you’d have decent chances based on that.
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