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August 24, 2006

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With the merit aid -- be careful that the college is still affordable without this aid. A high school senior may well be in the top of his class when he graduates HS, but may not be in the upper tier after a semseter or two of college. The merit based aid may require a certain high GPA per semester or the money is lost, which can price out a student even if the overall GPA is still respectable.

personal story: I went to a local private 4 yr college on a full scholarship. I had great grades in HS, really good scores on my SAT's I could have gotten into schools with much better reputations, but I went to my little local school and paid for nothing. a full tuition scholarship and other scholarships that ended up covering most of my fees. 4 years later, the same small school helped me get an internship (by way of an alumnus) and that led to a full time job in the IT dept. now i am one of the few recent graduates with ZERO debt and a better paying job than most of my classmates. Now I'm looking into graduate school, which the tuition reimbursment from my employer will help pay for.

I agree that it's definitely worth looking into those smaller schools who are trying to attract those "higher quality" applicants.

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