Monday, March 30, 2009

Fun With Money

For many admitted students, the joy of acceptance is quickly shifting to fear of money. Getting accepted was the easy part; now you've got to come up with over $100k to actually PAY for it! Many students get scholarships to help ease the burden of the financial commitment. Others (such as myself) were lucky enough to receive very generous aid packages and scholarships/fellowships. Many, however, will be forced to max out their available federal lending options.

First, a quick overview. And feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. When you get accepted, the school will tell you how much tuition is and the estimated cost of living. This total number is the Cost Of Attendance (COA). Let's say for our purposes the number is $75k (ie, $50k for tuition and $25k for cost of living). Now, to figure out how much you can borrow from the government, you subtract two numbers: your Estimated Family Contribution (this number comes from filling out the FAFSA) and any scholarships/grants awarded. Let's assume you get a $20k scholarship each year (good job!) and your EFC is zero. $75k - $20k = $50k. That's the total amount you can borrow from the federal loans. From there, you can borrow $20,500 from the Stafford loan program (between Subsidized and Unsubsidized) and the rest must come from the GRADPlus program, up to the total COA. If you need more money than that, I hope you've got savings!

My scholarship covers my full tuition plus a stipend and an international trip. I'm not exactly sure what that means, so I've got a meeting scheduled with a financial aid rep for the admitted students weekend. I've already started the FAFSA (one more piece of advice...START NOW!) and hope to have that submitted within the next day or so. Luckily, I shouldn't need to borrow too much money in order to finance my education. Limiting the amount of debt is a huge advantage for me, especially in this market. Carrying $150k in loans at graduation is not an enviable position.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shocker of the Century!

Dinged by UCLA! Can you believe it! As it was my first application, I probably bungled this one more than any sane MBA applicant should. My essays weren't the best, I let a recommender be late which caused my app to get moved to R2 (I submitted back in early October), I didn't follow up with the school very much. UCLA always felt like the longest of long shots with just that hint of possibility that made me click submit. It seemed so far away, so different than anything I had experienced. The ding was not unexpected. Congrats to those who got good news!

In work news, a guy on my team quit today, which has forced my manager to question how much longer I'll stick around. I didn't want to tell him yet that I've been accepted and will be leaving in June, but them's the shakes. I didn't give him a hard date, but told him what my final month would be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sign On The Line

Yesterday I submitted my notice of acceptance to Wake Forest, as well as making arrangements for my deposit to make it there. It's about as official as it's going to get! I've managed to keep in touch with some of the guys I met during Scholar's Weekend and they seemed happy about me coming. The next two years are going to be fun!

Now comes the part where I let Georgetown and UNC know that I do not wish to remain on the waitlist. It feels a bit odd, really; we wait for so long to be told yes and live in fear of hearing the word no. Now, I get to say no. Pretty drastic change. I'll send a polite email to both schools, thanking them for everything so far and wishing them well. No sense in getting an attitude about it!

The other school stuff now gets moved to the front of the burner. Housing, FAFSA, moving plans are the order of the weeks and months ahead. First task is definitely the FAFSA, though. I'll be meeting with financial aid to go over my scholarship, but I want to make sure the form is submitted ahead of time. Housing should be taken care of during RCW so I won't have to worry about that for too long. Once you've got a place, and know how you're paying for it, the rest is gravy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Game Is The Game

Today was decision day for UNC and Georgetown. I had previously been waitlisted at both back in R1 and was anxious to see the results. In short: they suck. I've been asked to remain on the WL at both. Notification for UNC would come May 4th; Georgetown on May 18th. Sorry, folks, not gonna happen.

I had been leaning towards Wake Forest pretty much since I got accepted back in January; my visit for Scholar's Weekend pretty much cemented it, but I wanted to give the other schools a chance. Asking me to remain on the WL is pretty harsh. Yes, I know it's not a straight ding, though at this point it must be. Schools know you applied to other places, and in the four or five months since you've surely gotten an acceptance somewhere with a deposit due. May dates clearly fall outside those dates. Those who choose to remain on the WL either haven't gotten in elsewhere or are willing to eat a deposit. I will not.

So, the choice is made. I will join the Wake Forest Babcock class of 2011 and have zero qualms about it. I've met fantastic people throughout, I love the school and the area, and I know I can be a part of something special. More importantly, I feel WANTED. Georgetown and UNC have had me on WLs since January (and asking to remain until at least May); Wake constantly reaches out to me to see if there's anything I need. Being wanted is a better feeling than being accepted.

I'll never know about Georgetown or UNC. Sure, I could tell them to keep me on the WL until May and find out my status then, but what would be the point? You don't ask a girl to the prom, and when she says yes ask another girl just to find out what she'd say. Me and Wake Forest, we're going dancing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness!

Ah, the most wonderful time of the year. All across the world, thousands and thousands of would-be prognosticators are filling out brackets for the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. Even the President has filled out his bracket. Who's going to the Final Four? Who's your 12-over-5 upset? So many questions...

I've got a Final Four of Wake Forest, Memphis, UNC and Pitt. Can't wait for games to start tomorrow!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wake Forest Scholar's Weekend Recap

Wow, what a weekend! Scholar's Weekend was an excellent time. I met all the other scholarship students, lots of faculty and staff and current students. It was a lot of fun and very informative. I'm already looking forward to going back in April for Red Carpet Weekend!

Friday morning I headed out to the aiport for my flight to Greensboro. I was met by a representative of the hotel and, along with another prospective, driven to the place. Now, I never knew this place existed, but it was awesome! Graylyn is one of the coolest hotels I've ever stayed at. After checking in and dropping my stuff off at the room, I went down for the welcome reception. There were 16 total scholars there, maybe half of whom had already submitted their deposits. Like any new social scene, things started off awkward and nervous; most topics tended to be your name, where you lived, where you went to undergrad, what job do you currently do and what your future industry will be. After a few hours of schmoozing and boozing, we were broken up into groups and driven to dinner. My group went to Mozelle's and it was excellent. Two current Deans Scholars were there, along with three other admits and a wife. Food was good, conversation was good. Afterwards a few of us ventured to a bar.

Saturday was a very early morning! Breakfast started at seven and the scavenger hunt began at eight. My team worked well together and ended up tying for correct answers. We then were shuttled to campus for a mock class...on 9:30AM. But it was actually good! The professor was very engaging. We then had a panel with alumni ranging from 2000 to 2008 and I took away alot of good stuff from that. We then had lunch and a speech by the dean on the future of the school. I think he inspired a good number of people. We then had a break before heading over to the dean's house to watch some basketball and have dinner. These hours were the highlight of my trip.

Before we left, a few of us wandered the grounds in search of stuff to do. We raided the ice cream room (free ice cream!) then walked around for awhile. At the dean's, conversations started getting onto other subjects, a sure sign that people were relaxing a bit more and opening up. Dinner was excellent. Afterwards we went out to a bar and met some other current students. I had an early flight so I left around 11.

Overall, the trip was excellent. I met some very cool people and got a better feel for the program. It's always good to be back in Winston-Salem and to see how much it's changed since I was there last. I'm pretty sure my decision has been made!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dinged at Duke

Ah, my first ding after an admit and two WLs. I knew Duke was a long shot, and my interview wasn't exactly the greatest thing. It still stings just a bit though. All that's left on the decision front is my WL status at Georgetown and UNC and my inevitable ding at UCLA (having not received an invite to interview, I think it's safe to say I'm not getting in).

So, my focus continues to be on Wake Forest. I leave for Scholar's Weekend early Friday morning and the schedule looks fun and action packed. Even better, Wake is playing in the ACC Tournament that weekend, so it should be a good time. I'm definitely looking forward to meeting some fellow admits and getting a feel for things down there.

To those that got in to Duke today, congratulations and best of luck!

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Quiet Week

Virtually nothing happened in the past week. Nothing on the MBA front. Sure, Duke and UNC sent out emails stating decisions will be released soon, but we already knew that. Duke on the 10th and UNC on the 23rd (along with Georgetown). Wake continues its push to get me to commit. I feel like a prized free agent! A member of the Board of Directors called me....from the tell me why I should go to Wake. Awesome.

Work wise, things are hectic as always. I had my performance review and received a grading of "Achieves Expectations." Complete with my 2% raise in salary, I felt like a valuable member of the bank. Ha! I asked my manager some questions relating to the future, if we'll still be around in a few months, what it takes to "Exceed Expectations" and other stuff.

Other than that, it's been a quiet week. I've confirmed my flight for Scholar's Weekend; I'm arriving a bit early on Friday so that I can get situated then have a meeting with the head of the Career Management Center. I'm really looking forward to this, getting a chance to converse with others and see just why they offered me the package they did. Maybe they mixed my name up with someone else!

Next week I figure blogging will be easier as more will be going on.