Colleges With The Best Financial AId

Colleges With The Best Financial AId

If you have a son or daughter heading for college, you have certainly considered the cost. 

Your child may have that dream college in their sights, but you are looking at the bottom line.

Your goal is to help your student find colleges that offer a good fit academically and socially, but also financially. Even if you have saved for college, your goal for your student is to help them graduate with minimal to no student debt.

In order to do this, you need to be strategic in researching and choosing which colleges your student will apply to.

A large part of your research will most likely focus on finding schools that offer the best financial aid. 

There are two types of financial aid: merit aid and need-based aid. 

Need-based aid is based on how much a student’s family can contribute toward the cost of college as shown on the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile.

Merit aid is based on a student’s achievements and qualifications like test scores, GPA, class rank and even extracurricular activities. Colleges use this aid to attract strong candidates.

[See the list of best colleges for merit aid. Best Colleges for Merit Aid ]

 

As a first step, families should estimate their EFC, if they haven’t yet filled out FAFSA. 

With your family EFC (or estimated EFC) in hand, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’ll need to look for colleges that can offer your student needs or merit based aid.

Keep in mind that even after searching for colleges with generous financial aid, some families will still have a gap between what the college offers and the family’s net costs. 

Federal student loans should always be the first loans borrowed. But if federal loans aren’t enough, private lenders, like College Ave Student Loans, can help cover any remaining college funding gaps. 

 

Key Findings For Generous Needs-Based Colleges:

According to the data* we collected, we have compiled these key findings:

  • 78 colleges and universities meet 100% of a student’s financial need
  •  Of those 78 colleges and universities meeting 100% of financial need, 75 were private and 3 were public
  • The average financial aid package for the 78 colleges meeting 100% of need is $45,802.
  • The average financial aid package for the 10 most generous colleges meeting 100% of need for freshmen is $58,782

For detailed information on each and a complete list of all the colleges and universities offering the best financial aid, follow the links below.

 

10 Best Colleges for Need-Based Financial Aid

10 Colleges with the Best Financial Aid

Data Source: Peterson's Undergraduate and Financial Aid Databases
NameState% Freshmen w/out need Receiving Merit AidAvg Merit Award for Freshmen w/out need
Columbia University in the City of New YorkNY100%$60,566
Amherst CollegeMA100%$60,141
Claremont McKenna CollegeCA100%$59,734
Yale UniversityCT100%$59,676
Williams CollegeMA100%$59,369
Colgate UniversityNY100%$58,976
Harvard UniversityMA100%$58,815
University of ChicagoIL100%$57,948
Pomona CollegeCA100%$56,538
Washington and Lee UniversityVA100%$56,056

Columbia University

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $60,566

In-State Cost of Attendance: $80,394

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $80,394

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $21,220

Columbia University in New York City is proud to promise students from families with calculated total incomes of less than $60,000 annually will not be expected to contribute to the cost of attendance. The University is committed to meeting 100% of a student’s financial need.

 

Amherst College

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $60,141

In-State Cost of Attendance: $76,750

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $76,750

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $19,275

Located in Massachusetts, Amherst awarded more than $56 million in scholarships this year. 70% of Amherst graduates in the Class of 2018 graduated with no student loan debt. Nearly 60% of students receive financial aid, with the average financial aid award last year was more than $55,000. The majority of students pay less than the cost of attendance.

 

Claremont McKenna College

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $59,734

In-State Cost of Attendance: $73,775

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $73,775

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $26,512

Located 30 miles east of Los Angeles, Claremont McKenna College is one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. At Claremont McKenna College, 40 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid. The college is committed to meeting 100% of a student’s financial need. Claremont McKenna College’s substantial endowment allows the College to adhere to generous core principles when packaging need-based financial need.

 

Yale University

A private university with generous alumni donors, Yale is committed to meeting 100 percent of each applicant’s demonstrated need. It spends more than 140 million a year on financial aid and in 2019, ten percent of its student body will have zero EFC.

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $59,696

In-State Cost of Attendance: $76,490

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $76,490

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $18,748

 

Williams College

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $59,369

In-State Cost of Attendance: $75,520

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $75,520

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $18,979

Williams College earns a top score for its ability to finance its students’ educations by meeting 100% of demonstrated need for all four years of undergraduate education. Located in Massachusetts with a small campus of 2000 students, Williams College is on par with the Ivies for their education and educational value.

 

Colgate University

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $58,976

In-State Cost of Attendance: $75,000

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $75,000

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $23,058

Nearly 3,000 undergraduates attend Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Colgate is one of the top liberal arts schools in the country with a price tag to match. However, students receive over $58,000 in grant aid, on average, making it a much more affordable than many state university options.

 

Harvard University

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $58,815

In-State Cost of Attendance: $73,800

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $73,800

Average Net Price After Gift Aid: $17,590

Any way you look at it, Harvard is an affordable education. 55 % of students receive need-based Harvard scholarships. One in 5 students pay nothing to attend. 20% of Harvard families pay nothing for their students to attend. Families with incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 will contribute from 0-10% of their income. Based on generous alumni contributions, Harvard can afford to be generous with financial aid.

 

University of Chicago

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $57,948

In-State Cost of Attendance: $81,531

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $81,531

Average Net after Gift Aid: $33,003

University of Chicago offers free tuition for families with incomes under $125,000 per year, while families earning less than $60,000 will have tuition, fees, and room and board covered by financial aid.

 

Pomona College

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $56,538

In-State Cost of Attendance: $75,080

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $75,080

Average Net after Gift Aid: $16,988

Pomona College is one of a handful of institutions committed to need-blind admissions and meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all students who enroll. For eligible students, the Offer of Financial Aid is composed of grant aid and a modest student employment allotment. While loans are available, Pomona does not use loans to meet a student’s financial need.

 

Washington and Lee University

Percent of Need Met: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package for Freshmen with Need: $55,903

In-State Cost of Attendance: $75,780

Out-of-State Cost of Attendance: $75,780

Average Net after Gift Aid: $25,211 

Washington and Lee University meets 100 percent of demonstrated need entirely through scholarship, grants, and student employment. Last year, more than half the entering class received a W&L grant or scholarship with an average award of more than $50,000.

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This article is sponsored by College Ave Student Loans. Check out their private student loan rates and see how they compare to parent PLUS loans.

*Data source: Peterson’s Undergraduate and Financial Aid Databases


Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.
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