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College Admissions Expert on Financial Aid at Private Universities

A photo of a building at the University of Miami

Educational consultant Mark Montgomery goes to the University of Miami to illustrate that if you want to get accepted to a great private college and need financial aid, your grades had better match your enthusiasm.


So I’m on the campus of the University of Miami. And one of the things that comes to mind is this whole question of financial aid. And who gets financial aid. I have a professional listserv that I belong to. It is a bunch of counselors, and there was a question that came out on that list about financial aid. “Why didn’t my kids get accepted to this or that school?” Also then one of the things they put in the question was, “My students needed a lot of financial aid in order to be able to attend.”

So that immediately starts me thinking about money because money is a lot of what drives higher education. It’s expensive. So one of the ways to think about this at the University of Miami, it’s a 38% acceptance rate. So it’s a pretty low acceptance rate. Hard to get in. But 48% of the students receive financial aid. What does that mean? That 52% of all the students who go here, according to this data that I got from government sources, 52% of the students who go here pay the full price.

The reality of getting financial aid

So 38% acceptance rate. The reality is, as unfortunate or as unfair as it may be. Is that a school like the University of Miami is thinking about who can pay and who can keep the lights on. And keep this campus as beautiful as it is and pay all the people who populate this campus to help you with your higher education. The fact is that no matter who you are, you have a better chance of getting into a top private university with a high price tag if you need less financial aid. If you need a lot of financial aid, you better be at the top end of their application pool in order to draw that aid toward you.

So what’s the lesson?

Get good grades. Work on those test scores and make sure they’re as high as the possibly can be. Because if you need financial aid, that’s how you get it. By being an excellent student. So if you want to attend a place like this and get really great financial aid or any other private institution that costs a lot of money, study. You gotta work hard, and that’s who gets the money.


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