Mar 16, 2010

Colleges Committed to Meeting Full Financial Aid of Admitted Students

It sounds too good to be true. Are there really colleges committed to awarding enough financial aid to meet the full financial needs of all the students they admit?

The short answer is yes. There aren’t very many institutions wealthy enough to make such a promise, but about 3 percent of all the colleges in the country have, including Georgetown, UVa, and the University of Richmond.

Naturally, there are a few strings attached to the offer. Most of these colleges will only guarantee to meet the needs of those students who are US citizens and who apply for financial aid before the school’s posted deadline. All bets are off if you are foreign, late or waitlisted.

And the “Golden Rule” applies. In other words, “He who has the gold, makes the rules,” so there are varying definitions of need, most of which will not match yours.

For example, some schools provide enough grant money to make up the difference between a family’s federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the college’s total Cost of Attendance (COA). Others calculate their own EFC, using a personalized formula that may or may not count home equity or other elements of net worth. Under these rules, a student’s level of “need” can vary wildly from college to college.

And how do these schools meet full need? That too varies significantly by institution. Several schools provide enough in grants and work-study income to meet a student’s entire need without throwing loans into the mix. Others will expect you to take out modest loans or will offer aid packages that include federal student loans of up to $7500. In this case, the balance between grants and loans becomes a key consideration.

While a list of colleges committed to meeting full financial need might seem very appealing, keep in mind that you could end up with lower tuition bills at other schools. Nevertheless, according to US News and World Report the following schools are committed to meeting the full financial aid needs of admitted students in 2010:

Adrian College, MI

Amherst, MA

Barnard, NY

Bates, ME

Boston College, MA

Bowdoin, ME

Brown University, RI

Bryn Mawr, PA

Caltech, CA

Carlton, MN

Chapman, CA

Claremont McKenna, CA

Colby, ME

Colgate, NY

Holy Cross, MA

Columbia, NY

Cornell, NY

Dartmouth, NH

Davidson, NC

Duke, NC

Emory, GA

Georgetown, DC

Gettysburg, PA

Grinnell, IA

Hamilton, NY

Harvard, MA

Harvey Mudd, CA

Haverford, PA

Lafayette College, PA

Macalester, MN


Middlebury, VT

Mount Holyoke, MA

Northwestern, IL

Oberlin, OH

Occidental, CA

Pitzer College, CA

Pomona, CA

Princeton, NJ

Reed, OR

Rice, TX

Salem College, NC

Scripps, CA

Smith, MA

St. Olaf, MN

Stanford, CA

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, NY

Swarthmore, PA

Thomas Aquinas, CA

Trinity College, CT

Tufts University, MA

University of Chicago, IL

UNC—Chapel Hill, NC

Notre Dame, IN

U Penn, PA

University of Richmond, VA

University of Virginia, VA

Vanderbilt, TN

Vassar College, NY

Wabash College, IN

Wash U, MO

Wellesley, MA

Wesleyan College, CT, CT

Williams, MA

Yale University, CT

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