MIT Student Financial Services Student Stories

Student Stories

Erika Sandford ’10

Oneonta, N.Y.
Major: Mechanical engineering

Erika SandfordAs soon as I visited the MIT campus, I knew I wanted to apply, but I didn’t think coming to school here would be a realistic choice for me. I knew that I didn’t have as strong an educational background as some of the other applicants because my small-town high school didn’t offer any AP courses. I was also unsure if my family could handle the financial obligation.

My parents are awesome and were going to make sure if I was accepted at MIT that I was able to go. My mother is a school nurse and my father is a restaurant cook who is known for the secret sauce he makes. They’re divorced and have both remarried, so on financial aid applications it looked like there were two decent household incomes I could rely on to help pay for college. However, there are other kids in both homes that my stepparents were supporting, so they were not actually contributing to my education. I explained the situation in a letter that I included with my financial aid application and MIT took it into account.

I thought the best and biggest surprise of my life was being accepted into MIT — until I took a look at my financial aid award letter. When I saw how much money they offered me, I was totally floored. That was truly the best surprise. MIT was the only school that really listened to me, and I appreciate that. They made a time that could have been incredibly stressful very smooth and easy for my parents and me.

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