Thoughts on VMI -- Worth The Price of Out-of-State Tuition?

Discussion in 'Publicly and Privately Funded Military Colleges' started by marinemom114, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. marinemom114

    marinemom114 Member

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    My DS was just accepted to VMI, his first choice school by far. Unfortunately we live in California, and so are facing the hefty out-of-state tuition. He has applied for an NROTC scholarship (Marine option) but knowing how competitive that process is we are not relying on receiving one. His financial aid offer from VMI would only put a very small dent in the total cost each year. He did not apply for the academic scholarship offered at VMI because his SAT score was just under the requirement, as was his GPA. His Dad and I are torn because he was admitted to and received a scholarship from another school where he could still be on the swim team, but not do ROTC -- at roughly half the cost of VMI. Practically of course, that makes the most sense, until I remember the look on his face the first time we visited VMI and how he fell in love with it immediately, which has not changed over subsequent visits. The more difficult they make it sound, the more he wants to go. He's planning on a career in the Marine Corps regardless of where he ends up attending college.

    So my question is this: are there any parents of current VMI students or grads, or any alumni on this board who could share an opinion on whether the cost is worth it? We could send him there but would have to leverage ourselves financially beyond what I am totally comfortable with. I would be grateful for any personal experience anyone can share.
     
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  2. New@This

    New@This Member

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    I would like to hear the response to this as well. DS applied to The Citadel, VMI and Norwich and was accepted to all 3. He has a great financial aid package from Norwich but haven't heard from the other 2 yet. In the end, I think it will come down to cost.
     
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  3. TexasVMIDad

    TexasVMIDad New Member

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    We are from Texas; our son is a 3rd at VMI. He has an AFROTC scholarship, but even that only makes a dent that is well less than half. If he had not received the honors scholarship, I am not sure VMI would have been feasible for us. As to whether it is worth it, I think it all depends on how much you have to contribute, and whether your son is willing to take out loans. Trying to work while you are at VMI is almost impossible. We told both our son and daughter that they could go anywhere to college as long as they could equalize it financially with a Texas state school. We love VMI, and our son cannot imagine being anywhere else. He had the opportunity to go the Air Force Academy this year and turned it down. He will finish at VMI, and he is having a great experience. That said, ROTC prepares officers no matter the school. And especially with your son wanting to go Marines, he will have to do OCS no matter where he goes. In our case, we want our kids to get a good education, but to leave school with as little debt as possible. Currently for out-of-state students, VMI is well over $200,000 out the door. Good luck on your decision.
     
  4. marinemom114

    marinemom114 Member

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    Thank you TexasVMIDad -- it helps to know that you love VMI and your son is having a great experience there. I am confident that our son would love it as well. He is very willing to take out loans, but like you, we would like for him to have as little debt as possible upon graduation. I'm not sure he fully understands the burden of paying that money back, especially in those first years trying to get on your feet financially. Thanks for responding! For now, we will wait on the ROTC scholarship and then decide whether we can justify the $200k plus expense if he doesn't get it. Much to think about.
     
  5. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    My daughter is a third (sophomore) at VMI and we are out of state as well. Her first year she was turned down for the NRTOC scholarship, but VMI is where she wanted to be.
    She was offered a very nice merit scholarship/financial aid from VMI, putting the tuition very close to what we would pay for an in-state school.

    She applied again and won the Marine scholarship during her first semester as a rat, which kicked in for her second year. She plans career in the Marine Corps. Winning the scholarship in your second attempt does happen!

    I would suggest that you apply for financial aid at VMI, and see what kind of package they can offer you. If he is turned down for the NRTOC-MO scholarship this spring he can apply again while at VMI. If he knocks it out of the park as a rat, the Marines will take notice, like they did with my daughter. If he wins a scholarship the second (or third) time he applies, you are no longer looking at $200k of debt, but more in the ballpark of $40-60k. The Marine scholarship covers all tuition and most fees, so we are only paying room and board for her now.

    My daughter absolutely loves VMI and she loves being in the Marine Corps there. She is in the perfect place for her. She would be miserable anywhere else!
     
  6. marinemom114

    marinemom114 Member

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    Thank you EOD/SEALmom! I know that if given the choice, my son would opt to go to VMI (instead of another school) and reapply for the scholarship as a rat if he is not selected this time around. I have been wondering how often people are successful at getting selected the second time around. Is it grades they are looking for at that point in determining selection, or other things in addition to grades? $40 to $60k I could probably live with...and I do think he would be very happy there. He got very little financial aid, however, so we will be paying for most of it absent a scholarship of some sort.
     
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  7. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Marine scholarships are hard to win, simply because there are less given each year than in the other branches - but it does happen. I know of another VMI cadet that won the scholarship this year, and several have been selected for the PLC program, which also helps with tuition.

    The Marines will still be looking at the whole package: academics, leadership and PT. The NROTC unit at VMI will help him apply for the scholarship again (if he does not win this year), and they will write his letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation from a Marine Colonel who has watched your son in action can speak volumes.

    Since my daughter was awarded her scholarship in November of her Rat year, her grades at VMI weren’t even on the table because it was still her first semester there, so for academics it would have been based on her high school records. She is a PT beast so she was able to achieve the max score for the Marine PFT, both when she took it in high school and again when she took it at VMI. The Marines take notice of high PT scores; he does not want to just “pass” the test. He wants the Marines to notice him!
     
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  8. Dadof2

    Dadof2 Member

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    Parent of a current VMI cadet here.

    In my opinion VMI is worth the money and the better he does there, the more valuable the education will be. But you still have to be able to afford it somehow and my personal feeling is that as great as I think VMI is, I would not go into more debt than I was comfortable with to get him there. VMI is a tough path and a good percentage of cadets are not able to stay or don't want to stay. If your DS was to attend and graduate with a decent GPA he won't have any trouble getting a job. The alumni network is great and companies like to hire VMI grads. I know you said your son wants to be a Marine, but if he isn't able to commission then he would want to be set up for a good civilian job option.

    Regarding commissioning, there is an active thread called "Commissioning at VMI" that you should read if you haven't already. Basically if your son is not on scholarship at some point or does not achieve advanced standing there is a chance that he won't be able to commission. Obviously the better he does at school and in ROTC, the better his chances. As EOD/SEALmom stated, Marines look for killer PT scores so he should plan to crush the PT test. Perfect score is 300 and he wants to be at least 275. If he does decide to go to VMI, he should work out all summer and show up in the greatest shape of his young life.

    I applaud your son for wanting to take such a challenging path and wish you and he the best. Once you have a few more posts, feel free to PM with questions.
     
  9. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    A contrarian view: the Marines won’t care what school he went to. All they want to see is an undergraduate degree. Why put your family in financial trouble when the goal is a degree? He can pursue an in-school NROTC scholarship (side load) at any school with NROTC unit without going into such significant debt. Best of luck in your family’s decision.
     
  10. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator 5-Year Member

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    +1 USMCGrunt
    If commissioning as a Marine is the PRIMARY goal, he can also consider PLC at a college that does not offer NROTC.
     
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  11. turtlerunnernc

    turtlerunnernc Member

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    My son is a 2nd ( Junior) at VMI, we are in NC. VMI was his #1 choice and after setting foot on post there was no changing his mind. We told him that without a scholarship it was not something we could afford. He did end up with a 3 year Army ROTC scholarship, so we had to figure out the first year. VMI offered a scholarship that first year that brought the tuition about in line with their in state costs.

    Honestly, he probably would have taken out loans for the whole amount to attend. He could have attended Campbell University for free, but he would not have been happy.

    Is it worth it. IMHO absolutely 100% yes. He has flourished. He is happier than he has ever been. He has matured greatly, learned how to give 100% to something, learned to dig deep and that he is capable of so much more than he thought possible. The alumni connections are incredible. The staff is wonderful and I cannot say enough about the Chaplain and asst Chaplain and what they do for the cadets. It is a true brotherhood. Forever.

    VMI is more than a school, it becomes a family. There is something so comforting that you have zero doubt your rat or cadet will be taken care off by other parents who tailgate nor visit post. There are constantly posts on the Parent page of people going to visit and asking if anyone cadets need anything. Or local parents who will help in a bind.
     
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  12. marinemom114

    marinemom114 Member

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    Thank you everyone for the thoughtful responses. Input from folks who have been through it is so helpful.

    What exactly is the PLC program? DS has talked about this but I'm not clear on the details and wasn't aware that it helped with tuition.
     
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  13. Walman888

    Walman888 Member

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    DD got both 3 yr AFROTC and a 4 yr AROTC scholarship. Accepted to VMI the Citadel, and Norwich. Norwich , by far is the better option financially. Citadel is 2nd, VMI 3rd In dealing with staff at all 3 institutions, Norwich proved to be most efficient and the friendliest. In addition to the above they were most forthcoming with details in regards to finance. I believe that USMCGrunt is correct in that the degree itself is what matters most. Not where you got it. We won't go into debt or saddle our DD with it immediately upon entering the career world. Please understand, not taking a shot at VMI or the Citadel, but this has been our experience so far. We will visit all in the middle of March and update findings. More than anything, best of luck to all of the candidates.
     
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  14. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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  15. Walman888

    Walman888 Member

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    CA too. Good Luck!
     
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  16. marinemom114

    marinemom114 Member

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    Thanks so much!
     
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  17. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    If any school is very expensive then it's not worth it to me. There are plenty of state schools that offer NROTC. As Grunt pointed out there is always PLC.
     
  18. 1mom

    1mom Member

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    Agree with Kinnem. Your DS should consider an instate institution that he listed on his scholarship application. There are quite a quite a few with NROTC programs, if the goal is to commission USMC. Unless scholarships cover his cost, the debt would be glad great burden he does not need being a young leatherneck.
    A while back, we visited with DS. We all agree it's a nice place, but ended up not applying. We're instate. We thought it was a bit expensive for the out-of-state students.
     
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  19. Falcon A

    Falcon A Member

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    This is an incredibly personal decision.

    As a current “VMI Parent” (we are “in state”) ... all I can say is VMI is an incredible “school” and is no “Plan B” to an SA academically (surprising revelation to me). Doesn’t have the Federal funding the SAs have for The extracurricular activities, but has the “core” commitment.

    Good teachers. Good labs. Good facilities for an Undergraduate Institution.

    Academics are stressed ... but they don’t “round up” ... a 79. 9 is a “C” not a “B”.

    VMI does have a 30-40% attrition rate.
    ~500 enter with each class ... ~300-350 graduate per class. It is NOT an “easy” school.

    VMI grads (SMC grads) tend to be very respected by their “active duty” colleagues (speaking as an USAFA grad that encountered the occasional VMI grad (or Citadel or Norwich or Texas A&M, or VA Tech, or other SMC etc. grad)...

    SA grads I think are “confused” why anyone would pay for the “abuse” an SMC imparts on its attendees ... but it is definitely “respected” ...

    “Normal ROTC” from a “civilian” University can be great ... but I think that may depend on the individual cadet ... There have been great successes as examples ... but the SAs and the SMCs, I think have the edge as a “process” ... If not, why do they exist?

    Others will correct me where I have erred.

    Best wishes to you and your DS with your choice and his path!
     
  20. Walman888

    Walman888 Member

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    Well put.
     
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