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Should I apply to the UC schools if I'm out of state?


I am a rising senior sorting through what schools I want to apply to. As of right now I have a total of 16 schools, two of which are UCs. Since all UC schools use one application and I qualify for a fee waiver to two schools, a while ago I decided to apply to UCLA and Berkeley. Now that I have done more research into both schools I found out that both are outrageously expensive since I am an out of state applicant. I am low income and neither schools offers much in financial aid. Large scholarships are not a guarantee and typically given only to a select few. My fear is that I will not be able to afford the tuition. I really like UCLA but I'm not too keen about Berkeley (I can apply to it for no extra cost and there are no additional supplements so why not try?) The only burden that applying would impose is the time I would have to spend on the UC application as opposed to other schoolwork or university applications. While the opportunity cost of applying is low, will the outcome even be worth it? It is hard enough to get in, but to get a scholarship that would cover enough of the tuition for me to go is unfathomable. Should I apply regardless of the fact that I more than likely would not be able to afford it? Or should I focus my time on schools I can afford/will give me sufficient financial aid? Thanks!


3 answers

answered on

I believe you posted this question twice — I answered on the other post, but do try to avoid doing that in the future! Otherwise the forum can get very cluttered.

The gist of what I said on the other post is that, if you're low enough in income to qualify for a fee waiver (which, maybe I'm wrong, would mean your family's income is below $50k/yr?), then I would really advise you against applying to the UCs. Unless you're able to get a Regents scholarship (which requires an additional application and an interview process, and is extremely competitive), you'd almost certainly be asked to pay full price. The UCs rarely, if ever, offer significant need-based aid to out-of-state students, and outside scholarships are not going to be able to make up the 60-70k/yr these schools cost, considering the vast majority of them are worth less than $1k total. (I.e., on average, you would need to earn literal hundreds of outside scholarships to cover the cost of UCLA—and you'd need to apply to many more, because even the small ones are competitive). The UC application is time-consuming—it requires you to write several new essays and fill out your courses and grades in a unique system, among other things—and I think that time could be better spent applying elsewhere.

For a student in your situation, you should prioritize a) your flagship state school, and b) private schools that provide good financial aid. If my guess of your income level is correct, you'd be able to attend any of the Ivies and most other top 20 private schools effectively for free. Some might include federal Stafford loans in that package, but even then you'd likely be graduating with ~$20k debt as opposed to the ~$200k you would need to pay for four years at UCLA. You'd also likely get a lot of aid from your state for in-state schools, and if you live in a state with a strong flagship (e.g. UMich) or a state that has tuition reciprocity with a strong flagship (e.g. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut with UMass-Amherst), those would be a much more worthwhile use of your time and attention than the UCs.

answered on

I think you should apply to see if you can get in, reasonably you will have to find balance between cost and how happy you will be to go the college. I suggest you make a section of your list for schools that are free/almost free (scholarship based) and the ones that you REALLY want to go to that might not be as financially successful. Sign up for as many various scholarship programs as you can and search for FAFSA or other ways that you can receive financial aid via your income. Ultimately it will be up to you to decide whether you will go to a higher-end college that you will get less financial aid on or whether you go to an in-state college where you can get significant scholarships. You might also want to look at UChicago; I believe they meet 100% of demonstrated need. If you want to search for other schools that will meet your financial aid requirements you should google “list of schools that meet 100% demonstrated need,” etc. I agree that you also should look into QuestBridge for additional academic scholarships. Hope this helps!

answered on

If you love one of the UC schools I’d say it’s worth it if admitted you should compare the award given to you before you dismiss it and you never know about a full scholarship and there are always outside scholarship. Also the UCs don’t participate but you may qualify for quest ridge a VERY competing program that garuntees full scholarships at many ELITE ELITE schools think Harvard Stanford Rice etc and is worth a look.

The only reason I’d say no is if you prefer all other schools over UCLA and Berkeley but if you are keen on one and really like it it doesn’t hurt to try also if you just don’t have time but I would focus a lot more on more reasonable prices schools.

Hope this helps!

If you can't envision yourself happy at a school or finding it a good fit for you, do not apply there.
Just commenting to say I loved the use of opportunity cost in your description :)