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3.97 GPA, 520 MCAT--Where could I get a Scholarship

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ShenandoahDoc

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Hey all, I've been fortunate to get through 3 years with a good GPA and MCAT. My question is where could I get a scholarship with these stats? I know I have a great shot at schools not in the top 20 or so, but what about top 20 schools: specifically Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Perelman, Hopkins, UCLA, UCSF.

A bit about me:
MCAT: 131 on 3 sections, 127 on Bio (I'm a bit worried that the Relatively low bio score will worry people since I'm a bio major. But also I still have most of my upper-level classes to take senior year)
GPA: 3.97 cGPA and sGPA.

EC:
Heavily involved on campus, 3 jobs, volunteering, leadership positions. I can't get any aid for needs based (and I assume this will continue), but I work 30+ hours a week.
I have really good shadowing and volunteering experiences, study abroad, and minimal Spanish ability.
I have good research experience, but my professor that I'm working with has been gone 4 weeks this summer and so I likely will not have any publications, or at least not till late fall.

Any input is greatly appreciated. I promise I'm not trolling anyone. I don't qualify for any fee waivers and $120 per school to apply to is a huge strain on my resources, so I'm trying to be strategic.

Thanks everyone!
 

brochacho123

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With a well written application, you are competitive for any school you apply to.

Very few applicants get any merit scholarships so it would be wise to go into this process assuming you will not get any. The top schools (Harvard, Yale, Hopkins, UCSF) only offer need based aid.

UCLA, Pritzker and Vanderbilt are schools known to offer great merit aid to their best applicants
 

ShenandoahDoc

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Thanks for the input. I've been looking at many schools' websites, and while some of them have listings of dozens of scholarships, others seem to have no scholarships listed at all, but still I hear about people getting full rides there. Are there many "hidden" scholarships that the schools don't show off as much?
 

brochacho123

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I can only speak from experience, but there are schools that offer merit scholarships not mentioned on their websites. The only thing you can count on are schools who explicitly state they only offer need based aid

You can look back through old school threads and see if people posted about reviving merit scholarships
 
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WedgeDawg

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Your stats are definitely competitive, but likely not scholarship worthy for most top schools. Schools like Hofstra and USC-Keck and other mid tiers might be willing to shell out some money for you. If you are really gunning for a top 20 scholarship, the schools that give the most scholarship money are, in no particular order, Vanderbilt, WashU, Duke, Penn, UChicago, and UCLA, though I think you should take the shotgun approach to top 20 + a few mid tiers + your state schools.
 
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KDoc2020

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I think Mayo offers good scholarships. UCLA (if you're a Geffen scholar) gives a fair portion of the class full tuition plus room and board. Cleveland clinic also I fully tuition free if you get in I belibe


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ShenandoahDoc

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Thanks for the reply, do public schools like UCLA with an in state bias give scholarships to out of state students? My thought is that if they have a bias to IS, and one of the few reasons to take OOS is for the extra tuition they would get, then why would they give an oos student a scholarship? For Cali schools especially it seems like it would be hard to get a scholarship out of state, but for all schools I wonder. Or am I completely wrong and Public schools that have to take in state students use scholarships to attract oos students with high stats to get their averages up. Any thoughts?
 

KDoc2020

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I have one friend who is a Geffen scholar from OOS. Your GPA and MCAT put you in the 99% academics wise. I think you may have a shot at the Geffen. Also remember Mayo is opening a new school in Scottsdale so you will have two chances at Mayo and Cleveland clinic. What state are you based in if you don't mind me asking?


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ShenandoahDoc

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I'm from VA with a rural background, white male, middle class, so definitly not URM or anywhere close.
 

KDoc2020

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Either way you should be fine. I think you're in a good position to get a decent scholarship if you're willing to move. 3-4 schools at least could get you w pretty thick scholarship. Just gotta apply intelligently and you should be fine


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KDoc2020

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No problem. Best of luck man. I remember being in your shoes last year and I'd hate to go through it again.


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anonymoose1640

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I don't know your exact situation, but some of the top tier schools that only give need-based aid are fairly generous with their need-based aid (i.e. people who didn't qualify for a lot of aid in undergrad ended up getting a decent amt of aid). For example, HMS will reduce the parental contribution in the following ways:
Total Income Under $100k: PC waived
$100K - $110K: PC reduced 90%
$110K - $120K: PC reduced 80%
$120K - $130K: PC reduced 55%
$130K - $140K: PC reduced 40%
$140K - $150K: PC reduced 25%
And the student contribution is waived if you have >$15K in student loans from undergrad. COA - (PC + SC + unit loan) = scholarship amt. It's not a full tuition scholarship, but since merit scholarships are not guaranteed anywhere, it's not a bad option. I encourage you to look at financial aid opportunities available at the schools that don't necessarily offer merit scholarships. Good luck :)
 
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ShenandoahDoc

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I don't know your exact situation, but some of the top tier schools that only give need-based aid are fairly generous with their need-based aid (i.e. people who didn't qualify for a lot of aid in undergrad ended up getting a decent amt of aid). For example, HMS will reduce the parental contribution in the following ways:
Total Income Under $100k: PC waived
$100K - $110K: PC reduced 90%
$110K - $120K: PC reduced 80%
$120K - $130K: PC reduced 55%
$130K - $140K: PC reduced 40%
$140K - $150K: PC reduced 25%
And the student contribution is waived if you have >$15K in student loans from undergrad. COA - (PC + SC + unit loan) = scholarship amt. It's not a full tuition scholarship, but since merit scholarships are not guaranteed anywhere, it's not a bad option. I encourage you to look at financial aid opportunities available at the schools that don't necessarily offer merit scholarships. Good luck :)

I think this is really my biggest question. I didn't get any needs based aid in undergrad and so I'll have about 30K in undergrad loans. I worked quite a bit and have some nice scholarships so I've kept it down a bit, but my parents have only been able to contribute 2-4 k a year despite them supposed to be contributing 12 ish. And I'm sorry if this has been asked elsewhere but I have scoured the internet and haven't found a good answer. Will I "have need" in Med school? my understanding is that if my parents are supposed to contribute 15k and the school costs 50, then I have 35k of need. So I actually could get needs based aid? This is just such a foreign concept to me (my parents make decent money, but I have a ton of siblings) that it seems too good to be true.
 

anonymoose1640

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So the "need" that you have is calculated differently by every school and they will assign ways to address that need in different ways. Generally, the financial aid department will look at your parents income and their assets and decide how much they believe they could afford to pay (it's usually more than people can afford, but that besides the point), this is called the "parental contribution" (PC). Then they'll look at what you've got. How much you have in savings, how much you have in assets, how much student debt you currently have. They'll use this information to determine how much you could reasonably afford to pay, this is called the "student contribution" (SC).

Generally, the Cost of Attendance (COA) - PC - SC = "need". Keep in mind your COA includes your living expenses for the year, so you won't need to worry about paying the COA and rent and food and everything. Now your need can be fulfilled in a variety of ways: 1. scholarships, a lot of the top tier schools will fulfill all or some of your calculated need with need-based scholarships. 2. federal loans (stafford unsubsidized or grad PLUS loans) 3. institution based loans (this varies by school but usually they are better loans than federal ones because they have lower interest rates and a longer grace period) or 4. private loans (this is the least recommended option and is usually not necessary unless you are an international student who doesn't qualify for federal loans).

If your parents can't contribute their calculated PC or you can't contribute your calculated SC, then you are free to take out loans (federal, institution, or private) to help cover what you or your parents can't pay out of pocket.

The problem is, schools can use wildly different methods to calculate your PC and SC. For example, one school calculated my PC as >$40,000 because they used the equity in my parents home as an asset. The school I'm attending calculated my PC as $0. Do your research on each individual school's method of calculating need and determine what schools are the most generous/fair in calculating need. Those are the schools you should apply to, in addition to the schools that distribute merit scholarships.

Finally, my last advice is: if money is a substantial concern for you, hold on to all or most of your acceptances until you receive all of your financial aid awards. Like I said, awards can be wildly different and you don't want to be stuck having to attend a school you can't really afford. Additionally, with multiple awards in hand you might be able to convince school X to give you more money because school Y was much more generous.

Medical school is insanely expensive, I know, but at a certain point you just have to accept that you're going to have to take on debt in order to reach your dream of becoming a doctor. It's a tough pill to swallow, trust me I know, but it is a safe investment in your future. Hope that helps! Feel free to PM me if you have more questions about financial aid related stuff, I did countless hours of research on it during my application cycle and I'm happy to share the knowledge. :) Good luck!!

Edit: Also, since you mentioned you have multiple siblings. If any siblings are in school your PC is calculated and then divided by however many siblings are currently in college/grad school. For example, you are 1, say one brother is a freshman and college and one sister will be a junior in college. That's 3 kids in school. Your PC for medical school will be the PC they calculate divided by 3. Hope that makes sense.
 
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ShenandoahDoc

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So the "need" that you have is calculated differently by every school and they will assign ways to address that need in different ways. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks so much for your detailed response! I've spent a long time researching but I think I was off track--primarily looking for merit rather than looking at what they considered need. What would you say is the best way to research how fair they are? some data points I'm looking at is the MSAR average indebtedness, the US News programs that give aid list http://grad-schools.usnews.rankings...edical-schools/private-financial-aid-rankings
And where possible their websites. But their websites, while sometimes refreshingly helpful and transparent, more often than not seem to have the goal of not giving much info, perhaps so that you can't see the real numbers and so you apply just to figure it out, thus upping their application numbers.
 

anonymoose1640

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You're absolutely right that some schools are not very transparent with their financial aid need determination process, which can make this process a headache, especially for someone in your position who is looking to condense your application list based on potential future financial aid awards or merit based scholarships.

While the websites may be lacking, often the financial aid discussions during interviews can be very helpful (which again doesn't benefit you at this point in time) and the people in the office can be helpful (so you could call them, but this is obviously time consuming). Here's the information I gathered:

Schools that are more generous with need-based aid:
Generally the top schools including, but not limited to:
Harvard
JHU
UCSF
Penn
Yale
Columbia
NYU
Mt. Sinai
Cornell
Stanford
UCLA
UMich
UChicago
WashU
Vanderbilt
Pitt
Northwestern
UCSD
Emory
Mayo
Case Western - Note that CCLCM gives all students free tuition
Hofstra
Duke
VCU

Schools, in my experience, that are not very generous with aid including, but not limited to:
BU
Georgetown
NYMC
Drexel
Temple
Tufts
Jefferson
When I say "less generous" I mean that they determined that my need was lower than what other schools had calculated or that they did not offer need-based scholarships to students.

My advice would be to:
1. scour the individual websites
2. check MDapps to see where people got "generous" scholarships or aid from schools resulting in them matriculating
3. check MSAR average indebtedness - note that this can sometimes be lower for schools simply because some people's parents can afford to pay out of pocket and therefore those students graduate with less debt. It is a decent metric, just not great. Any school with an average indebtedness above $250K is one you should avoid. Ideally, average indebtedness should be less than $200K.
4. when in doubt - ask in the 2015-2016 school specific forums and see what current students received as financial aid packages.

I hope that was helpful, good luck!
 
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