07 Feb Most generous schools – Show me the money

Now that the heavy-lifting is done on college applications and the students have had a bit of a break from sharing their innermost thoughts in college essays, it’s time to gear up and start searching for ways to pay for their dreams.

One of the biggest college admissions misconceptions that parents enjoy learning is that families shouldn’t assume that they earn too much and that no money is available. To the contrary, depending on the college or university, it might end up being less expensive for your child to attend a private school with a price tag of over $50,000 than it is to attend your in-state public institution. Students who are the right students interested in the right schools for them will be pleasantly surprised at the financial aid offers headed their way.

What do I mean by the “right student” and the “right school?” That’s a good question. Let’s start with the basics here. There are two entirely different pots of gold on college campuses: 1. Need-based money and 2. Merit-based money. For need-based money families MUST complete the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and for many colleges and universities another form called the CSS PROFILE, that you can access through College Board (www.collegeboard.org) .

Aid for middle class families.

Many colleges offer excellent financial aid, but some of the nation’s top universities actually have specific policies that guarantee middle-class families free tuition or even full-ride scholarships based on their income.

The following colleges and universities are considered the most generous:

1. Brown University

Tuition*: $50,224

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $60,000 per year.

2. Columbia University

Tuition*: $50,526

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $60,000.

3. Cornell University

Tuition*: $50,953

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $60,000.

4. Dartmouth College

Tuition*: $48,120

Financial aid policy: Free tuition for families making less than $100,000.

5. Duke University

Tuition*: $45,800

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $60,000.

6. Harvard University

Tuition*: $41,632

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $65,000.

As an example, Harvard University’s financial aid webpage boasts that more than “50 percent of its students received scholarship aid” (they offer no merit-aid, so that is 100 percent need-based aid)  and “100 percent of our students can graduate debt-free” (that is assuming that families can afford to pay their Expected Family Contribution – which is the product of the FAFSA) and “more than 20 percent of its students’ families pay nothing.” Wow – that last item alone, that one-fifth of the student population receives a Harvard education at no cost, is exceedingly generous.

Students who have what it takes to be accepted academically to Harvard, and at a variety of other well-endowed universities, will not be denied their opportunity to attend because of an inability to pay. The website is also quick to point out that families earning more than $150,000 may still qualify for financial aid.

7. MIT

Tuition*: $46,400

Financial aid policy: Families making less than $75,000 a year don’t pay tuition.

8. Princeton University

Tuition*: $43,450

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (including tuition plus room & board) for families making $54,000 a year or less. Free tuition for families making less than $120,000 a year.

9. Stanford University

Tuition*: $45,729

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $65,000. Free tuition for families making less than $125,000.

10. Yale University

Tuition *: $49,480

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $65,000.

*Tuition as per 2017 Princeton Review Best 381 Colleges. This figure does not include room & board or required fees.

 

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com

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