Frequently Asked Questions
Which colleges and universities do you target?
Cloud Peak Project, Inc. helps students apply to colleges and universities that offer need-blind admission and guarantee 100% of financial need to those admitted. Other colleges may be considered, but we focus on colleges that offer excellent financial aid for students from low and moderate income families.
We want college to be affordable for students and their families. We help students get a great education while borrowing less. Many students receive so-called “no loan, no family contribution” financial aid and scholarships. The average financial aid and scholarship package for 2015 Cloud Peak Fellows was more than $228,000 each. The total financial aid and scholarships for all 2015 Cloud Peak Fellows was more than 3.6 million dollars over four years.
Financial aid varies from college to college, and is dependent on family income.
Cloud Peak Project also looks for colleges that may not offer need blind admissions, but still actively enroll students from low-income families, and offer excellent financial aid.
Finally, Cloud Peak Project encourages students to consider the service academies: the United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Coast Guard Academy.
What level of excellence does the student need to meet to become a Cloud Peak Fellow?
We look for great kids, with outstanding academic and personal potential. We want students with excellent personal skills, so that their teachers, principals, guidance counselors – and the other students in the school – like and respect the candidate.
Students need to be hardworking, persistent, show grit and determination in the face of obstacles, flexible, ambitious, and be able to get along well with others. The students we select will be moving into environments filled with high academic demands, and the students will meet people from other backgrounds, with different experiences and perhaps different values. Fortunately, Cloud Peak Fellows have unanimously enjoyed their new experiences. We definitely want students who will stay the course and graduate in four years. We want students who have demonstrated that they can overcome hardship and thrive despite it.
1. Class rank: We look first at students in the top 2% of their class.
2. SAT/ACT scores: The average SAT/ACT score for Cloud Peak Fellows in 2015 was 1350 SAT (math and critical reading only, or about 1975 if calculated on all three parts), or 30 composite on the ACT. Students below 1100 SAT (math and critical reading only) or 24 ACT composite are very unlikely to be accepted, and students below 1200 SAT (math and critical reading only) or 26 on the ACT are unlikely to be accepted. Please note that we help students improve their standardized test scores, and most students improve their scores, sometimes remarkably.
3. Family income: Students must be free or reduced lunch eligible.
4. Parent’s education: Students with parents who did not graduate from college are strongly preferred. In 2015, only one parent of one student graduated from a four year college.
How much does Cloud Peak cost?
Our services are free to students and their families. The step by step, one-to one mentoring services are free. Cloud Peak pays all the normal expenses of the college application process, including standardized test fees not covered by fee waivers, application fees not covered by fee waivers, if any, and prep books for the tests. We estimate that the value of these services would be $5000 per student, if paid for privately.
Is Cloud Peak Project, Inc. a 501(c)(3) charity? Are contributions tax deductible?
Cloud Peak Project, Inc. is recognized by the IRS as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity. We understand that contributions to Cloud Peak Project, Inc. are tax deductible, but we are not tax advisors, so you should rely on the advice of your tax advisor.
What is the maximum family income for selection as a Cloud Peak Fellow?
Students must be eligible for free or reduced school lunch. Students from lower income families may be given priority over students from moderate income families. In 2015, the average family income for Cloud Peak Fellows was less than $30,000 annually per family.
Can you provide testimonials from those who have worked with Cloud Peak Project?
Josefa de Leon, mother of Luis Ramirez, 2010 Cloud Peak Fellow:
“We didn’t know very much about how to apply, and the process was very complicated for us, because it was all new. We needed someone to guide us. The guidance counselor at school was great, but with hundreds of students, they do not have the time for the 1 to 1 help we needed. The Cloud Peak Project worked hand-in-hand with the guidance counselor, and it was a big help for us.”
Luis Ramirez, 2010 Cloud Peak Fellow, Swarthmore College 2014 , BA in computer science and minor in biology:
“Swarthmore admissions said that the students at Swarthmore work really hard because the school encourages students to go as deeply as they can into subjects the students feel passionate about. That sold me on the school, and now I am so happy focusing deeply on computer science. ”
Luis is now working as a computer security engineer for the largest computer consulting firm in the United States.
Zaires Hernandez, mother of 2011 Cloud Peak Fellow Hellen Barroso:
“I am very happy because of you and The Cloud Peak Project. Hellen is going to a wonderful college, which would not have happened without you.”
Hellen Barroso, 2011 Cloud Peak Fellow, Grinnell College 2015, BA in biological chemistry:
“My parents couldn’t afford to send me to college. I would never have applied to private colleges without Cloud Peak Project. I loved Grinnell when I visited, they are a great science school, and they gave me a great scholarship. I decided that Grinnell would be the best place to go for me to begin realizing my dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.”
“Cloud Peak Project helped me to arrange my internship after my freshman year at Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York City, where I worked in a medical research lab that focuses on neurology. What a great experience!”
Hellen now teaches high school chemistry in Miami with Teach for America. She will consider graduate school or possibly medical school in the future.
Maria Soto, 2012 Cloud Peak Fellow, Vassar College 2016:
“I didn’t believe I could do it. I’m so happy at Vassar, because the other students have interests like mine. I found my people here.”
Maria is now a senior chemistry major at Vassar, where she is also pre-med. She reports being on track for medical school after graduation.
Janeil Dennis, 2013 Cloud Peak Fellow, Cornell 2017
“With the help of Cloud Peak, I was able to apply and get into colleges so good, I never even had dreams of attending.”
Nikita Samsonov, 2015 Cloud Peak Cloud Peak Fellow, MIT 2019
“My mother thought I was joking when I told her I was acccepted to MIT… I had no idea I could get into such a great school.”
Regine Francois, 2015 Cloud Peak Fellow, Columbia University 2019
“I didn’t have the knowledge about these schools. So without that, what could I have done? So I’m really thankful to Cloud Peak. If they didn’t invest in me and my dreams, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Rex Gonzales, 2015 Cloud Peak Fellow, Johns Hopkins University 2019
“Without Cloud Peak, I don’t think I ever would have applied to the colleges I got into.”