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Scholarships From FOSS Organizations? 348

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-not-they-should dept.
Athaulf writes "I'm a high school kid with big dreams of prestigious technology schools like MIT or Cal-Tech. The problem is, my upper-middle class family had more down to Earth plans for me and my college choices (about $30,000/year more down to Earth, actually), so financial aid and college savings won't come anywhere near MIT's price tag. However, I've been programming in C for a while now, and might release a GPL'd Linux app soon. With this self-taught programming experience, academic merit, and plenty of extra curricular activities, are there any FOSS supporting organizations who might grant me a scholarship for my contributions? Do companies like Google or Red-Hat offer scholarships to big name schools in return for a few years of work after college?"
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Scholarships From FOSS Organizations?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You could fiddle with some BSD and enjoy the cheaper things in life.
  • umm (Score:2, Informative)

    no
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:49AM (#22827554)
    They'll pay your tuition... then they'll send you someplace where people shoot at you.

    Hmmmmm... maybe join the Canadian Army instead.
    • This was funny!

      But why is it that there were so many posts responding to this kid's question, but none of them went anywhere near the topic: "Scholarships that support FOSS" ? I wish I could post a more valuable comment, kid. I am impressed that you decided to not use your family's financial limitations as an excuse to skip applying to MIT / Caltech. Ambition is good -- as long as you know how to cope with failures.

      If I were in your place, I would look at some very highly regarded public schools too.
    • by 1point618 (919730)
      Wrong. Anyone joining the military with a college degree (especially from a place like MIT or an ivy) will a) instantly be an officer and b) be a huge commodity and will be put doing some sort of awesome research or tactics, and not be put in line of fire. The military definitely isn't for everyone, but the idea that if you go into it you're automatically going to Iraq to be shot at is just wrong.
      • Re:Join the Army (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:38AM (#22827742)

        Anyone joining the military with a college degree (especially from a place like MIT or an ivy) will a) instantly be an officer and b) be a huge commodity and will be put doing some sort of awesome research or tactics, and not be put in line of fire.
        I'm sorry, but: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! For starters, there's *not* that many "awesome research and tactics" billets that need to be filled. Second, unless your kinfolk have influence of some kind, you go where the "needs of the [Army,Navy,Air Force,Marines]" dictate they need warm bodies. If that happens to be a place where you get shot at (and there seem to be quite a lot of those nowadays), then that's where you're going, no matter what your degree or where you got it.
        • Re:Join the Army (Score:5, Informative)

          by 1point618 (919730) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:08AM (#22827858)
          You obviously don't know what you're talking about. There are still awesome research opportunities in the military. What about Nuclear research? What about tactical ops? What about intelligence gathering? What about, for something CS related, cryptology? Or programming the tanks, submarines, etc, that will be going out? A lot of this is still done in-house, the people they have doing this are not folks they are going to endanger by putting them in line of fire. This doesn't mean that there is no chance of being shipped out to Iraq, but if you go to the military, especially the US Navy, on an engineering track of some sort, then you can apply to certain jobs when you get into the Navy, and it's not the same blind chance an enlisted man or a new officer who is going to be leading troops will have.

          Listen, I don't love the military in any sense, but as a practical choice, it's not as bad as many folks make it out to be. Someone with an engineering degree isn't simply a "warm body" to the military, especially if they're coming straight into the military from college rather than having gone through college after the military in order to become an officer. There are different career paths within the military, especially Navy, that can lead to many different places, and that pay incredibly well.
          • Re:Join the Army (Score:4, Informative)

            by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:25AM (#22828298)

            I suppose I'm just a bit cynical about trusting the military's ability to use people's talents correctly, but I hope I didn't make the military out to be a bad choice, since I came out of it with the ability to step into a decent career. It's probably even a bit better than corporate America in terms of the density of stupid people and bad decisions. And it is true that making a choice like joining the Navy is a good way to avoid landing at a guard shack in Iraq with a rifle.

            However, I still don't think the DoD is using active duty military personnel to do a lot of the actual research and engineering tasks, but that's just based on my experience with the Navy. All the people I worked with that were doing those jobs--like nuclear research and power plant design, for example--were civilian employees or contractors, every single one. Maybe they were former enlisted or officers in that field, but they weren't able to do any of the actual "design/build/program something" jobs until they were hired as civilians and put in their time in the civilian side. The active duty officers in those technical fields were little more than supervisors/managers of the enlisted people, and (again, in my limited experience) the enlisted guys actually had most of the direct experience with the technology, while the officers did a lot of admin/paperwork and stood the occasional supervisory watch.

            So I still maintain that for 99%+ of the cases, going into the military, with or without a degree, in a technical, not-so-likely-to-be-on-front-lines field, is more likely to result in:

            • Spending 8+ hours per day sitting in front of a panel full of instruments or wall full of valves
            • Supervising somebody sitting in front of a panel full of instruments or wall full of valves
            • Cleaning something
            • Painting something
            • Doing paperwork
            • Supervising people cleaning and painting things
            than in doing research. However, having that experience for 6, 12, or 20 years would put one in a good spot to move on to doing R&D for the military for the equipment you used to work with. It just doesn't seem right to me to pitch the military as a good option for jumping into a research opportunity for anybody except the very top-notch graduates in a field.
            • I suppose I'm just a bit cynical about trusting the military's ability to use people's talents correctly, but I hope I didn't make the military out to be a bad choice, since I came out of it with the ability to step into a decent career. It's probably even a bit better than corporate America in terms of the density of stupid people and bad decisions. And it is true that making a choice like joining the Navy is a good way to avoid landing at a guard shack in Iraq with a rifle.

              The key is to research what jobs
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                The key is to research what jobs are there and don't believe the recruiter; get anything in writing.

                I think that's probably the best single piece of advice that can be given to somebody looking into any job that requires X years of commitment. I worked around a few people that got crappy jobs in the military despite having qualifications (degrees, etc.) for much better jobs, most likely because they met the wrong recruiter that had a quota to make.

                8+ - I want your billet. More like 16+; including weekends once you through in drills and fixing stupid crap sailors do when they aren't busy.

                Eh, I wanted to be conservative, since there are some niches in the military where it seems like having to be there for more than an hour after the flag goes

      • by Viv (54519)
        Heh, whether you have a college degree or not has nothing to do with whether you get put in the line of fire. Every officer in the military has a college degree -- are you saying that not one of them gets put in the line of fire? No, of course not. That's silly.

        But no, joining up doesn't automatically mean you're going to Iraq, but there's never any guarantee that you won't. I know a guy who joined the Navy and ended up in the sandbox managing munitions. That's right -- he joined the Navy and ended up
    • Re:Join the Army (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:56AM (#22827826) Journal
      Hmmmmm... maybe join the Canadian Army instead.

      It's great that you are so aware of all the help Canada has been giving you in Afghanistan. It may come as a surprise that they have been shooting at our soldiers [www.cbc.ca] too. I'm so glad their sacrifices are appreciated by our southern ally.
      • by Viv (54519)
        Blame Canada! Blame Canada! Damn Canuks and Frogs! We don't need none of them 'round here!@# :D
  • by dokebi (624663) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:53AM (#22827564)
    According to their website, MIT's tuition is 35K/yr + 10k in housing. If your parents will foot 30k, that's only 15k year you need to pay. I'd say that's a good deal for an education that'll keep paying you after you graduate.

    If you think that's too much, go to a good community college for the first two years, transfer, and still get that MIT degree. The introductory classes are generally taught better at some of these places.

    Or, most states schools have great programs, diverse people, and provide excellent education.

    And no, counting cards will not pay your tuition.
    • by pclinger (114364) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:18AM (#22827886) Homepage Journal
      The problem is, my upper-middle class family had more down to Earth plans for me and my college choices (about $30,000/year more down to Earth, actually)

      Pretty he didn't mean his parents would pay $30k, he meant they wanted to pay $30k less than what MIT costs. If they included housing costs, that means $15k/year, if they weren't including that then they would only be offering $5k/year.

      Doesn't discount your other points, but I believe clarification was needed.
      • by Bryan Ischo (893)
        You are right, and many people who have posted on this subject have made the same mistake as the GP did. I wish everyone would read your clarification before posting the same tired statements about how 'if you can already afford 30 grand than you can afford a few K more' ...
    • According to their website, MIT's tuition is 35K/yr + 10k in housing.

      Meanwhile in several countries across Europe (specially such as Germany, and Switzerland) the tuition are dead cheap and the access to universities isn't limited.
      In Switzerland, for example, tuition is around 1k/yr (unless you also work somewhat in the university, in which case the tuition is even lower), in most place swiss student only have to apply to start a bachelor, and foreign students can apply as long as they pass exams to prove t

      • by deragon (112986)
        Usually, the cheap tuition only applies to citizen of the country, not foreigners. In Québec, Canada, tuition is something around $3000 per year I believe. For a foreigner, it is at least 5x-10x more. My country/province does not subsides the education of foreigners, nor do I believe any other country would do.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EnvyRAM (586140)

      If your parents will foot 30k, that's only 15k year you need to pay.

      I think he meant his parents were thinking 30k/yr less than what MIT costs -- not that they were willing to pay 30k.

      If you think that's too much, go to a good community college for the first two years, transfer, and still get that MIT degree.

      The chances of this are EXTREMELY slim. MIT takes a MAXIMUM of 4 transfer students a year and sometimes they don't take any. I happen to know of two community college students that transferred to MIT, but they were 15 year old, home-schooled siblings. Only the most exceptional people can transfer in. It is harder than getting in as a freshman because you have to hit the ground running at the

  • MIT's website... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rob1980 (941751) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:53AM (#22827568)
    The problem is, my upper-middle class family had more down to Earth plans for me and my college choices (about $30,000/year more down to Earth, actually), so financial aid and college savings won't come anywhere near MIT's price tag.

    MIT's website says financial aid is guaranteed for admitted students.

    http://web.mit.edu/sfs/financial_aid/mitgo_undergrad.html [mit.edu]

    I suppose I don't have an answer to the original question, but get their financial aid folks on the horn and see what they have in the way of work study, internships, etc. Whatever you got back on your FAFSA probably isn't the last word in the matter.
    • Indeed, most of the high-caliber schools (Ivy league, MIT, a few others) have what is called "need-blind" admissions. What they do is evaluate each applicant independent of ability to pay. If you're qualified to attend, then you get in, and then it's the responsibility of the financial aid department to make sure you can afford to go there. More than half the students at Harvard, for example, receive some form of financial aid (and I think it's been as high as 80% some years) and a large fraction of tho

      • by nebosuke (1012041)

        Indeed, most of the high-caliber schools (Ivy league, MIT, a few others) have what is called "need-blind" admissions. What they do is evaluate each applicant independent of ability to pay. If you're qualified to attend, then you get in, and then it's the responsibility of the financial aid department to make sure you can afford to go there. More than half the students at Harvard, for example, receive some form of financial aid (and I think it's been as high as 80% some years) and a large fraction of those students pay nothing at all.

        Very true. Amusingly, I paid less at Harvard than I would have at my local community college.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by amabbi (570009)

        However, the key is whether you can afford it. They have sophisticated metrics for figuring out what your family can afford to pay without undue hardship
        It's not a sophisticated metric. At MIT, if you're family has an annual income less than $75k, tuition is free [mit.edu]. I think that's pretty affordable. I only wish this was the case 10 years ago when I was a student.
  • study abroad (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:57AM (#22827576)
    If you go to say, Sweden, there will be no tuition fees. You have two decent Unis there: The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg. You may also check out DTU in Denmark and the unis in Aachen and Dresden (Germany).

    In a lot of European states you can get away with 0 in tuition fees or a very moderate fee of a 1000 per year. For $30k / year you can live a very comfortable life as a student in Europe.

    Also, having studied abroad is something that would look very good on your CV.
  • by ZirbMonkey (999495) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:57AM (#22827586)
    MIT is outrageously expensive, but will have no effect in determining to an employer that your a better candidate than someone at any other 4-year accredited university. But you don't want to be just a guy with a degree. You want to be a guy with an MIT degree.

    I'm not sure what CS guys get at MIT that they won't be eligible to find at any other college. But if you work your ass of at any other college, with the grades and extras to prove it, I don't see how it matters.

    Unless of course you just want to get the "MIT" label for the brand name.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      some how reading about branding and university in the same sentence made me feel cheap and dirty.....

      but then i guess that's what higher education has fallen to these days.

    • by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:04AM (#22827854) Homepage
      The difference between getting a CS degree at MIT vs a CS degree at an average state college is your classmates. At MIT, you'll be surrounded by the best and brightest - people who were not only accepted, but chose to go to MIT, even though that meant working harder and taking out more loans. Many of your classmates will be the people starting the next Google, Facebook, or FedEx. The people you do a class project with your senior year might be the people you start a company with the following year. You'll be surprised to discover that top science/engineering schools tend to not be that competitive - they're mostly collaborative. Everyone studies in groups, and your peers will inspire you to do better than you thought you could. The basic material is not much different than at other schools, but when everyone in your class is actually excited about it, you'll learn it better.

      When you go to an average school, you'll be surrounded by average students. On the plus side, you might stand out as exceptional. On the down side, you will have relatively few other students who are as smart, ambitious, and interested as you are. It does make a difference.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300)
        But there is something to be said about being a Big Fish in a small Pond. Ok you are filled with all these engineers and other "bright" people but when it comes down to helping a professor with some research or getting noticed you have to be best of the best of the best.
        In smaller schools you get the same education but opportunity is easier because you are just the best in your program. People like to bring out the success of their grads. But what portion of them are Successes and What portion are still w
    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:14AM (#22828246)
      Would you care to bet on that? An MIT, Harvard, Cal-Tech, Stanford, RPI, or other leading school helps you get contacts in your field, alumni who can help you get work, and access to leading edge projects to write your thesis about to help land that job. And yes, a degree from a world-class school does help your resume get noticed.

      Also note, different schools teach different approaches. I watched a presentation on Microsoft's "Trusted Computing" a few years ago. The folks there from the legal profession were fascinated by the repercussions, and liked the idea of protecting their client's intellectual property. They were also courteous to the presenter, lauding the presenter's previous work and qualifications. The MIT person there (also an FSF member, as it turned out) rose up on his hind legs and went down the list of legally protected fair use applications that would be blocked, and how it would interfere with common uses that the presenter had utterly ignored.

      It was funny to watch.
    • by williamhb (758070) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:23AM (#22828480) Journal

      I'm not sure what CS guys get at MIT that they won't be eligible to find at any other college. But if you work your ass of at any other college, with the grades and extras to prove it, I don't see how it matters.

      Unless of course you just want to get the "MIT" label for the brand name

      Much as I hate to be the fly in the Slashdot's idealistic ointment, that branding is very valuable. It is not simply a branding, it is an endorsement from one of the most respected institutions in the world: if you have an MIT degree, then the MIT admissions panel felt you are one of the brightest of your age group nationwide, because everybody knows that is all they will take. If you have a degree from Bog Standard College, then Bog Standard College's admissions panel endorsed that "they think you could just about get through the course", because everybody knows that is their criteria.

      The best employers really go out of their way to try to attract talent from the top institutions. Cambridge University's Computer Lab recruitment fare has more companies with stands than it has students graduating each year. And of course companies often try to hire locally -- if you're after a role with a top technology firm, you'll quickly notice they are mostly clustered around the top universities, and usually have deep links within those universities.

      And while you're there, both the best scientists and the best business people in the country will probably be giving free talks at the top institutions.
  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:07AM (#22827614) Homepage
    ... you'd already released some code. One of the really cool things about code versioning systems is that you can look back over how your project has developed, and see how old bits of code are. This gives you a useful-but-scary indication of how much your programming is improving, the more you do it ;-)

    It's easy to get your Free software out there. It would probably look better if you had something you could show prospective sponsors, and this is where the versioning comes in. If you've got a horking great Subversion repository full of your code, with maybe a few checkins a day, then it shows the process by which you work. It's like showing your working on a maths problem - if you get the answer right but don't show your working, you won't get full marks. If you show your working and get the answer wrong, quite often you'll get fairly good marks anyway if the working is right but the mistake was a little arithmetical slip.

    So in short, show them the code. And let us know if it gets you into college.
  • by RPalkovic (1181995) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:14AM (#22827642)
    Wow, I'm somewhat appalled by the acerbic replies to this post. There's a post or two saying that education doesn't get you anything, and while I tend to agree because college didn't work for me, that's no reason to tell someone not to go. I spent 6 years in crappy jobs that I probably wouldn't have had to endure had I gone to Insert College Here instead of the school of hard knocks. Then there's the dedication factor. Many employers want to see a 4 year degree simply because it shows that 4 Year Degree kid had enough drive and dedication to see it through. As for MIT vs. another college... If I were a hiring manager and all other things were equal (skills, interview prowess, etc) I would almost definitely hire the person who had a degree from a well known, highly respected school over Generic University. NOTHING beats experience, but don't knock a kid for trying to "do it right."
    • by digitalcowboy (142658) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:44AM (#22827762)
      I spent 6 years in crappy jobs that I probably wouldn't have had to endure had I gone to Insert College Here instead of the school of hard knocks. Then there's the dedication factor. Many employers want to see a 4 year degree simply because it shows that 4 Year Degree kid had enough drive and dedication to see it through. As for MIT vs. another college... If I were a hiring manager and all other things were equal (skills, interview prowess, etc) I would almost definitely hire the person who had a degree from a well known, highly respected school over Generic University. NOTHING beats experience, but don't knock a kid for trying to "do it right."

      I almost agree with some of what you said. MIT is a generic school compared to The School of Hard Knocks, depending on your goals. For me, Hard Knocks University worked out quite well because I never had a desire to be an employee. I most certainly was an employee for a number of years during that education. It taught me how to do things better and be a good employer.

      I only speak for me, but the thought if being an employee my whole life is abhorrent and I say that having had some very good jobs in IT with no college education at all. I earned what I got by educating myself and working hard on the job. There are exceptions, but for the most part I think college is a circle jerk.

      The point you make about the dedication and perseverance that employers are looking for... I think you're right. But I find it twisted and sick. I can assure you that building a business or three from scratch - for that matter, working your way into a Fortune 100 job with no degree - takes far more dedication and perseverance. It costs far less in terms of wasted time and money.

      Ultimately, I'm motivated by a desire to be free. I'm living my dream with no classroom education beyond high school and I'm in my own classroom every day - on my terms and my schedule. Usually on my couch, but when I travel, I'm making money anywhere I have an internet connection.

      I believe, in most cases, college is a sucker play. If you want to learn how to be a really good peon, it can certainly work for you. The valid exceptions are technical professions that require it. But the latter does not describe most college students. Most college students are there because they're willing to sell 40 years of their life and take orders for a reliable paycheck.

      When I hire, I try really hard to not hold a college degree against anyone. It's a challenge. I spent too many years in corporate IT amongst those who graduated with honors from good schools with degrees in CS and still were coming to me multiple times a day for help because they didn't know how to do their jobs.

      I'll hire a high school drop-out (or student) with a hunger to learn and an understanding of how to do it independently over a worthless diploma from a college every time. (And no, it's not because they're cheap. I pay very well and only hire the best.)
  • Every college has an entire office dedicated to helping you find money to go there, and the more prestigious a college is, the more money they have to throw at their students in financial aid. Get into a really good school and you'll be able to afford it.

    And no, aside from the army nobody's going to give you money to go to college on the condition that you work for them when you get out. That's just silly.
  • Would be to work for a few years BEFORE college, save the money and THEN apply for an ivy league school. I guess these days it's hard to get a job without any degree at all unless you have a friend at a small company. However a programming degree can be easily obtained at a state university for very little money for state residents or even at a community college. Any job you get after that will likely pay way more than $30 per year.

    While in college, remember to take a basic history class and understand how
  • by beefstu01 (520880) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:27AM (#22827694)
    It actually kind of annoys me that people expect their parents to pay for college. Yeah, it'd be nice, but you expect all of the freedom of being an adult without any of the responsibility...

    I went to Cornell and managed to pay the entire bill myself. I've got a quite a bit of student debt, but I've also got a really good job that's allowing for me to pay off my bills very quickly. Go to a good school, you get good opportunities afterwards (contrary to popular belief, name recognition goes a long way). Fill out your FAFSA, use the power of Google to find scholarships and fight for 'em, and whatever the government and really nice people don't give you, pull out in private loans (Sallie Mae, etc...). Heck, interest rates are basically at rock bottom right now, so you won't get hosed. Having a loans also helps motivate you, trust me. You're less likely to goof off (still have fun, but not blow off work), plus you get fiscally responsible pretty quickly (a lot faster than most of your classmates).

    Anyway, stepping off of my soapbox of "pay for yourself," as it looks like thats you're trying to do, I don't think many (if any) company will pay for your education right now this moment. After you're in college for a year or two, however, some of these opportunities crop up, but I've seen them more in the financial sector than in tech. Get an internship or two and it'll help you immensely financially and get a job after college. If you're as good as you say you are, you should be able to find one freshman year- go to the career fair with a good resume AFTER meeting with your career services center to get it brushed up, and practice some interview skills (some say it doesn't matter, and it may not, but it will most definitely help you stand out from the crowd). There is ONE program that I know of that is what you're looking for, but it ain't FOSS-- look up the "Stokes Educational Scholarship Program" for the NSA. They will pay tuition and books, and give you summer internships in return for 1.5x your stay in college (4 years undergrad, 6 years NSA).
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:31AM (#22827714) Homepage

    However, I've been programming in C for a while now, and might release a GPL'd Linux app soon.

    Might? By the time I finished high school, I had released at least 3 GPL'd programs that were entirely my own work, a 3-clause BSDL'd one, a couple of scripts dedicated to the public domain, and a several patches to existing free software. Nobody sent me to an ivy-league school.

    You're going to have to do better than "I might release a GPL'd app someday" if you want to convince the people here that you're the unique snowflake you claim to be. And remember: even if you're brilliant, why should anyone put you through school? What's the payoff for them?

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:05AM (#22828046) Homepage
      Oh my god, this guy's question was like an invitation for every holier-than-thou type to come out of the woodwork and spout off about how much more worthy than he is they are and how stupid he is for even asking the question.

      Well, I guess if you really need the ego stroking - you sound like a real genius man, like you must have been the best qualified high school grad of all time and I am sure that all the universities were begging you to sign up, and if they weren't, well it's the dumbest thing they ever did to pass up on talent like you.

      Now that that's over with - do you actually have a useful answer to his question?
  • A Few Clarifications (Score:2, Informative)

    by Athaulf (997864)
    1. My parents are NOT contributing $30K/year to my education, they've saved $10K/year for a public school. The $30,000 comes from the fact that MIT is about $40K-$45K ($40K-$10K=$30K) 2. My brother could never find financial aid, and scholarships only go so far. 3. My cousin was accepted to MIT but couldn't find enough money. 4. I'm not saying that I haven't considered public schools; I simply much prefer a school that I'm not in the top 1% of math SAT scores. If that sounds arrogant I apologize, but I'm
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lukas84 (912874)
      First off, learn to make paragraphs. That post was horrible to read.

      and would be proud to put some time into the cause.

      It's a god damn operating system, not a cult or a cure for cancer. You're not helping "the cause". You're working for a company which has the sole purpose of making as much of money for their shareholders as possible. There is nothing wrong with that, but you desperately need a reality check.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Viv (54519)
      1. So, take their $10K and raise the rest. Good for you for looking for FOSS scholarships. Don't stop with just that. There are plenty other sources of funding, you just have to take the time to look under every rock you can find.
      2. Your brother didn't look hard enough, or wasn't very well qualified. Or wasn't willing to take enough of the burden on himself in the form of loans and sweat.
      3. Same.
      4. College ain't high school kid, sure there's plenty of stupid folks at both, but pick a hard major and take the hard cl
    • It sounds like you're basically doing the right thing. Ignore your mother and apply to MIT and 5 other good schools, and 2 safe schools to make your mother happy.

      Don't bother calling MIT before you're accepted because they won't give you the time of day. I don't blame them, since they only accept a tiny fraction of the people who apply.

      Despite what so many other people here are saying, I think you should definitely apply to a top school, but please don't limit yourself to MIT! Grab a list of the top 10 s
    • by portnoy (16520)
      MIT lesson #1: Do not ever -- EVER -- let someone tell you that something is impossible. Always investigate for yourself first.

      Note that MIT has just revised its financial aid policies, to allow for more financial aid and lower tuition costs for students whose families earn less money. So, ignore your mom and call them anyway. Even if you can't afford it, you should know what your target is if you're going to be approaching organizations and asking for scholarships.

      And really, just apply anyway -- to a
  • Take out some loans (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:47AM (#22827786) Homepage
    All of the top U.S. schools offer fantastic financial assistance. First of all, they all practice need-blind admissions - meaning that they don't care how much money you have when deciding if you should be admitted. Once you're admitted, they'll send you a financial package, based on the information they got from your FAFSA and other forms. Unless your parents make a million dollars a year, you're almost certainly going to get a small grant (i.e. free money) and some loans.

    If the total remaining amount you and your parents are supposed to pay is still to high, no problem - that's just their initial offer. They will negotiate - the job of the financial aid office is to make it so that you can attend. Let them know how much your parents are willing to spend, and see what they can do for you. If you're lucky, they will find some grants and scholarships to cover more of the difference, and they will definitely offer more loans. Not crappy loans like a car loan or credit card - college loans often have no interest while you're in school, and very low interest rates after that.

    And trust me, if you're going into software engineering, some loans are no big deal. You'll get a nice salary and pay them off in a few years, and it will all be worth it.

    One thing, though - the financial offer you'll get will vary dramatically from school to school. Virtually all good schools have great financial aid programs that can negotiate with you - but they all value different things and have different rules. Your best bet is to apply and get accepted to a lot of great schools - MIT, Caltech, CMU, Harvard, Yale, UTexas, UIUC, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvey Mudd - and then pick one of the ones with the best financial offer for you.
  • Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rindeee (530084) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @04:04AM (#22827852)
    This is a highly polarized topic. I must say, I'm a little surprised that anyone here is downplaying the importance of MIT vs. a less prestigious school (or even no college at all). I'll give you my two cents. I'm 15+ years in the industry (INFOSEC mostly), deep into 6 figures now, was making $80k at 26 years of age. I dropped out of school after a year and a half. I'm slowly finishing my degree, but on my terms and someone else's dime. If someone wants to see the 'piece of paper', they'll foot the bill. Period. My year and a half in school (a prestigious private institution) was a farce. I didn't leave due to too much partying or lack of funds. On the contrary, I had a decent job outside of school that allowed me to pay the exorbitant tuition. I left because the cost/benefit analysis said to. Sorry, but in the end it really is just a piece of paper. The meat of what you'll do for a living is going to be learned in the classroom of experience. Would I be regarded more highly if I had a degree from MIT? Of course! I'm not going to kid you; MIT would have never accepted me. On the flip side, would I be making any more than I am now if I had graduated from MIT, Yale, etc? No way. I work with folks who did in fact graduate from such institutions and where there is a difference in salary, they have some catching up to do. You will be happy if you make a living doing what you love. If you're intelligent and good (very good) at what you love and that 'thing' you do is valuable in the marketplace...then you'll make a very good living; MIT diploma or no. Save your money. If you're really as good as you think you are (so good that a company like Google should want to invest six figures into you for the promise that your awesomeness will come work for them (uhhhhh...yeah)) then you'll have no problems. Get the quickest degree you can from an accredited institution then get to the real learning. The exception to all this would be if your goal is to go into research...in which case you can ignore all of my advice. Just my two cents...many others will disagree whole heartedly.
  • MIT and Caltech are two insanely hard places to get into. Not because their admissions standards are stringent (they are, but I am assuming you're capable), but they are also arbitrary. I know extremely brilliant kids who've been rejected and positively mediocre ones being accepted. No admissions process is perfect and assuming you've got what it takes, you still have about a 1 in 3 chance of being rejected both places.

    More importantly, some other programs that I'd recommend for a CS major would be
    - CMU (gr
  • In Europe, some of the institutions that are easily on par with MIT are free (or as good as) ! I don't have to list them, you can just look them up in the various results lists.
  • Like you, I was of humble means. I went to graduate school at a respectable state university rather than in the Ivy League. When I graduated with my degree (in economics), however, I secured a position at an elite consulting group populated almost exclusively with University of Chicago graduates, the 2nd ranked economics department in the world, an unprecedented opportunity.

    So although I can only offer my own experience, I worked in an office full of graduates from a top-ranked university and my perspecti
  • Harvard, Yale and MIT have all come out with very strong financial incentives this year. Essentially free for families making $75,000 and large financial aid for others. I expect to hear more from other schools (think Stanford and Duke are now in the act, but I don't know their details) The big name schools end up actually cheaper than schools without such a large endowment, and in some cases cheaper than state schools. Even if you don't make these cuts, if there is one thing in life not to skimp on, it'
  • by sidney (95068) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:00AM (#22828410) Homepage
    MIT announced in a press release [mit.edu] a couple of weeks ago that they are increasing financial aid so that the school will be tuition-free for the nearly 30% of undergraduate students whose families earn less than $75,000 per year, with no expectation of student loans to cover non-tuition expenses. There are other changes that affect students whose families are in higher income brackets, with details in the press release.

    Here is one significant quote from it:

    For those receiving an MIT scholarship, which is six out of every 10 MIT undergraduates, net tuition is $8,100--an amount that approximates the in-state cost of many public universities
  • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:04AM (#22828422)
    Cultivate your ability to run fast while holding a ball. The US education system values this far more than academic ability, and prefers to educate people with such abilities rather than people who will spend all their time studying. If you can do anything along those lines, they'll teach you how to count for free.

    I don't get it either. But then, I've never understood how the US education system works. I'm not all that convinced that it does.
  • by chiefthe (672735) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:23AM (#22828478)

    DO NOT let lack of money dissuade you from what you want to do. That breads resentment and bitterness. Do it, do it well, and the money will come.

    I went to MIT. I hate it when people assume that you have to be rich to go there, or make comments like "my parents couldn't afford that." That isn't a reason to not even try. I'm not sure about the original poster's financial status (upper middle class can be a big range), but MIT recently announced it will be tuition free [mit.edu] for those families making $75000 or less.

    And the name does make a difference. I got my first job due to it (poor match in the end, but that is another story). Many employers see it as a short cut to the type of person you are. You *will* get a good job if you went to another school, especially if you are good (goodness will always override name in the end), but as other posters have mentioned the fact that you are surrounded by smart and clever people kicks your own performance up a notch. Being able to see exactly what you are capable of and find and notice your limits is an amazing experience. I wouldn't trade my time at MIT for the world, despite 4 years of complaining about the workload, the pressure and the frosh.

  • by CrazyWingman (683127) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:54AM (#22828628) Journal

    You may want to look into MIT again. They just announced a couple of weeks ago that students from families that earn less than $75k/yr. will not have to pay tuition. They've also changed the factors they look at to determine financial aid for other income levels:

    Fin. Aid Boosted; No Tuition For Families Earning Under $75K [mit.edu]

    MIT has also always had a policy of basically, "You get in, and we'll help you figure out how to afford it."

    A couple more things:

    • Students loans are *not* as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Especially graduating from a place like MIT, where you can expect $50+k/yr at your first job. It's also the "good" kind of debt - low interest rates, and interest payments that can be deducted on taxes.
    • Don't believe the anti-college (or anti-prestige) hype. It is absolutely worth it to spend four years at a place like MIT. It is true that you can gimp your way through and get nothing more out of it than any other school (or "real-world" experience) would give you. But, if you really want to do something exciting/amazing/etc., there's no easier place to make it happen than a place where you're surrounded by other bright/smart/energetic people.

    Disclaimer: I graduated from MIT, and would not trade that experience for anything.

  • The greatest gift (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @09:56AM (#22829206)
    The greatest gift your parents can give you is NOT PAYING FOR YOUR COLLEGE.

    Go to MIT. Get loans. They'll have low interest rates. Pay them off as SLOWLY as you can. Having a degree from MIT on your resume will pay for your investment in 10 years or so. You'll get aid, you'll get loans, you'll get a JOB and you'll afford it just fine

    Remember that high housing costs mean high labor costs -- which means the hourly you get for labor in Boston will be higher than you expect. Get skilled labor jobs. Avoid working on campus unless the job helps you academically (meaning in the lab of a person you're learning from). Never work for a faculty member who starts off pointing out that working for him or her will get you a great recommendation which will open doors for you. Such people are weasels, and will screw you.

    Stop looking to your parents. Stop trying to figure out how some third party will pay for it. Go directly to the school and deal with them. They'll help a lot. The rest you'll either pay for immediately from your wages or loans, and it'll be FINE.
  • by Myopic (18616) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @01:43PM (#22830824)
    Any kid can afford any college in the country. As a child, you can't be any more poor than $0, and that's what I had when I went to a top-cost college in this decade. After four years of paying for tuition with only forgiveness and loans, I graduated with about 6-months-salary worth of debt. (Forgiveness is where the school just kind of reduces tuition for you.)

    MIT, like all top-tier schools, including every school in the Ivy League, and many many more-accessible schools, offer need-blind admissions, which means they will find a way for you to be able to afford college, one way or another.

    So, my suggestion is to go do what every other kid in America is doing, even those who aren't so lucky to be in an upper-middle-class family: get a job, borrow money, get thru school, then get another job and pay back the money. In fact, that makes me realize that taxpayers are the ones funding the low-cost government student loans, so we all already are giving you the scholarship that you are requesting.

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