Jul 27, 2012

Colleges offering the Most Merit Aid to the Most Students

Johns Hopkins University
This week, the New York Times released a cool interactive chart analyzing data collected by the College Board on more than 600 colleges and universities that award aid based on merit.

And the news was a little discouraging for folks in the middle—not quite poor enough to qualify for need-based aid but unreasonably strapped by increasing college costs.

According to the NYT’s, the latest data available from the College Board show some schools are giving fewer students more money and others are “stretching their dollars” by awarding smaller amounts to more students.

In fact, the Department of Education says the percentage of students receiving merit aid grew so rapidly from 1995 to 2008 that it rivaled the number of students receiving need-based aid.

But many of the most selective colleges and universities—the Ivy League, MIT, and a handful of liberal arts colleges—don’t offer any merit aid.  And even though some are quite generous with aid, it’s simply not available to those who don’t qualify under a definition of “need” that only the colleges can explain.

Still for those schools offering merit aid, the numbers are enough to make you scratch your head.  For example, the biggest scholarships come from the most expensive schools where you’re looking at tuitions around $40,000 with additional expenses upward to $15,000. 

Yet for anyone doing this kind of research, just as important as the size of the scholarship is the number of recipients.  Only about one-percent of freshmen at Boston College and Johns Hopkins get merit aid—but they’re relatively well rewarded.

The University of Miami, on the other hand awards merit scholarship averaging more than $23,000 per year to almost a quarter of its freshmen, while Tulane gives an average of more than $20,500 annually to a third of its new students.

For the record, here is the NYT’s list of the colleges offering money to the greatest percentage of students (merit aid vs. total tuition and fees):
  1.  Colby-Sawyer College:  88%  ($17,565 vs. $33,293)
  2. Cooper Union:  71%  ($35,700 vs. $37,383)
  3. Trinity Christian College:  68%  ($4,688 vs. $22,572)
  4. Mississippi College:  56% ($8,858 vs. $13,821)
  5. Hodges University:  55% ($376 vs. 14,600)
  6. Wingate University:  51% ($11,033 vs. $22,180)
  7. Nova Southeastern University:  49% ($5,484 vs. $22,593)
  8. School of the Art Institute of Chicago:  49% ($6,610 vs. $37,560)
  9. University of Michigan:  46% ($5,559 vs. $12,074)
  10. Denison University:  42% ($16,370 vs. $40,200)
  11. New England Conservatory of Music:  42% ($13,118 vs. $36,700)
  12. Truman State University:  41% ($5,354 vs. $6,826)
  13. Westminster College:  40%  ($10,284 vs. $20,570)
  14. Fort Lewis College:  39% ($1,561 vs. $5,022)
  15. University of North Dakota:  39% ($1,254 vs. $7,073)
And here are those offering the greatest dollar amounts:
  1. Trinity College:  $41,980 (<1%)
  2. University of Richmond:  $36,860 (7%)
  3. Cooper Union:  $35,700 (71%)
  4.  Johns Hopkins:  $29,312 (1%)
  5. Vanderbilt:  $24,505 (9%)
  6. University of Miami:  $23,208 (24%)
  7. Babson College:  $22,556 (6%)
  8. Campbell University:  $22,034 (9%)
  9. Sage College:  $21,250 (2%)
  10. Tulane University:  $20,520 (33%)
  11. Lafayette College:  $20,509 (6%)
  12. Boston University:  $19,960 (7%)
  13. Stetson University:  $19,900 (19%)
  14. Georgetown College:  $19,848 (15%)
  15. Providence College:  $19,780 (13%)
Note that for colleges not on the NYT's list, you can do many of the same calculations by using data found on the Common Data Set or College Navigator.

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