Home / News / India /  Applying for US universities? Here's how to find the discount colleges

If you are looking for information on applying to US colleges then one of the best ways to find out about discount colleges is going through CDS. The Common Data Set is a collection of information about admissions, demographics, financial aid, academics and campus life that is assembled by schools and then sent to entities that sort or rank colleges and universities.

What is CDS? 

An article published in NYT states, CDS is a rich trove of information for college shoppers, no matter what you're able or willing to pay.

For college shoppers, the CDS is excellent reading, even if the PDFs that most schools post are not all that reader-friendly. If your kid is not a joiner, the form can tell you the percentage of the students who are in fraternities and sororities. You can also learn how many people live off campus.

Instructor demographics are a feature as well. Faculty who are members of minority groups can be rare at some schools, and the CDS spells out the figure at any given institution.

On the financial aid side, a quick read of the CDS can give families hope and concern in equal measure. While colleges, on their "cost of attendance" webpages, often list sky-high prices, plenty of students at the schools don't pay them.

How it can help you find discount colleges? 

Now, many students qualify for need-based financial aid, but the support cannot be afforded for each and every one. CDS's Section H2 tells you how much of the need, on average, a school is able to meet.

The article states “Parents whose kids get in but find that a school meets even less of their need than average can appeal the financial aid offer. And if the school's average gap seems particularly foreboding before application season begins, you can have a conversation with the financial aid officers. Ask them how they assess your odds of getting a decent amount of aid - and ultimately being able to afford the place at all."

Then there are the higher-income families. Plenty of people with household incomes of, say, $300,000 won't qualify for much need-based aid, if any. Still, they may not have much college savings for their offspring if they've been repaying their own student debt for decades, and they may not feel able to afford a college's full price or be willing to borrow a lot of money to do so.

That's where Section H2A comes in. 

At lots of schools, nearly everyone gets something, and the CDS lists the average amount of merit aid that people with no financial need end up getting.

The next step might be to use the form to find the number of people who get need-based aid and then the number who receive no-need merit. Add those together and subtract the sum from the total number of students, and you can figure out how many - or how few - people are paying the full price.

 

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