If You Don't Want to Pay Sticker Price For College, Read This

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

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If you can pay full price for your student’s college of choice, you can bypass this blog.

If your student’s college list needs balancing for financial fit and admission probability, read on.

If your student is part of an over-represented population of students, then read on closely.

Approximately 60% of the schools on our CPC Bucket list have either previously used or recently converted to test-optional application review. Test-optional should be carefully used as a focused strategy for the following reasons:


Test-optional does not mean test blind – Fewer than 1% of test-optional schools do not use standardized test scores in admission decisions. In other words, most consider test scores if submitted.

Test-optional might have a GPA or class rank requirement – If a student was a slow starter academically in high-school, the standardized test score could make up for the lost time.

Check out test-optional website wording – Frequently, you will find a test-optional school states, “We encourage students to take standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, and to share your scores with us if you think that they are reflective of your ability and potential.”


Not all schools are generous with merit scholarships. However, students can access quality traditional and moderately sized private schools using test scores to reduce the cost of attendance.

Highly Selective Schools – Don’t expect academic scholarships to bribe you to come! Scholarships are primarily need-grants based on income and assets.

Public Universities and Colleges –Expect to pay sticker price in most cases – either the in-state cost of attendance if you pay taxes in that state or out-of-state cost of attendance, otherwise (see more on Regional Tuition Discount programs).

Traditional Private and Moderately Sized Private Colleges – About 85 schools on CPC’s quality bucket list of colleges are test-optional and generous with merit scholarships for A & B students. Since the topic of merit scholarships for test-optional applications is not widely reported, a family’s best option is to check out the school’s website. Some examples:

- Allegheny College – “Students, recognized as Trustee Scholars usually rank in the top 25% of their high school class (or otherwise excelling in classwork and other activities when the school does not rank) and have SAT/ACT scores (if reporting test scores) consistent with their academic performance.”

-Case Western University – “…we will continue to make quality admission decisions for those students who are either unable to test or who choose not to submit test scores.” No mention of merit scholarship decisions

-Providence College - “Students who choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores, will still receive full consideration for admission and merit scholarships,”

-Hofstra University – “…nearly 75% of our applicants submitting test scores is the right choice… all applicants are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, whether or not they submit scores. Keep in mind that the Presidential Scholars Program and Trustee Scholarship Program are offered only to students who submit standardized test scores.”

-Furman University – “In awarding merit-based scholarships, we consider GPA, Strength of curriculum, test scores (if submitted), Essa, Co-curricular activities.”

Not submitting standardized test data may put you at a disadvantage for at least some merit-based scholarships. Therefore, if your academically strong over-represented high school student is considering a moderately selective private school for quality and affordability, strong test scores are the best strategy to entice schools to bribe your kid to come.

More questions? Schedule a free no-obligation conversation with us.

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