Seven Schools with Great Financial Aid Packages

These days, money is tight for just about everyone—and college is one of the biggest expenses your family will ever face. A four-year program at many private universities will cost over $200,000, not counting the cost of textbooks and other extra fees. While some students may be eligible for scholarships and financial aid, there’s always a concern that a school might reject you because you’re not able to pay their tuition.

Not these schools. With “need-blind” admissions policies, they pay no attention to how much money you have when deciding whether or not to admit you. Better yet, some schools even claim to meet full need, which means that they’ll provide grants to make up the difference between the family’s expected contribution, based on income, and the cost of tuition. While most students are able to obtain loans to help pay for college, these need-granting schools will generally contribute money that the students will never have to pay back, which can take a lot of the stress out of the college experience.

Want to see which schools have the best financial aid policies? Here’s a selection of colleges that aren’t likely to leave you with mountains of debt.

Harvard University. Last year, Harvard admitted Khadijah Williams, a homeless straight-A teen from Los Angeles, providing her with a full scholarship that covered all of her classes, textbooks, room, and board. This is not a first for them—the school has been long known for a remarkably generous financial aid policy, covering all costs for families who make below $60,000 and reducing the cost of college for middle-income families by as much as 50 percent. This year alone, they are awarding $145 million in need-based aid. So if you’re Harvard material, don’t worry about the price tag: you’ll find a place there

Bowdoin College. Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, may have a high price tag—$53,250 a year—but very few students are expected to pay that entire amount. The school offers need-blind admission, and more than 40 percent of students receive grants to help pay tuition, which do not need to be paid back. For a chance at a debt-free education in beautiful Maine, take a look at Bowdoin and its financial aid policies.

Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, a women’s college in Pennsylvania, has a generous grant assistance program, offering more than $20.4 million in financial aid to 62% of the student body. For more information, visit the school’s financial aid page.

Cornell University. This Ivy League university in upstate New York has always been generous with financial aid, but it recently announced an even more impressive initiative: starting this year, families with incomes below $75,000 will not have to pay any loan money, and families who earn between $75,000 and $120,000 will not have to pay back more than $3,000 for each year of school. The remainder of the money beyond the family’s expected contribution will be covered in full by the school. Check out their policies here.

Macalester College. This small, but highly competitive liberal arts school in Minnesota provides need-based financial assistance to all eligible students, which is about two-thirds of the entire student body. The average yearly financial aid award is $32,258, though some students are eligible for full scholarships. Find out more.

New College of Florida. Though it’s a public school, this university has only 785 students—and 90% of them are receiving financial aid assistance. With annual tuition, room, and board of just $12,567 for in-state students and $34,169 for students from out-of-state, it’s already one of the best educational deals around. Find out about their financial aid here.

Swarthmore College. This highly selective liberal arts college pledges to meet all student financial need after the expected family payments have been made, and awards more than $34 million in scholarships, loans, and other assistance to 70 percent of its student body every year. Swarthmore also offers a deferred payment plan, which allows families to pay tuition and other student fees in smaller monthly increments, interest-free, for a one-time participation fee of $60. Check out the options.

There are plenty of other fantastic schools with great financial aid packages available to the cost-conscious student. To find more, take a look at this list from US News and World Report —and make sure to register for our $2,000 scholarship!

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