As the U.S economy gets more competitive, college tuition increases. College in the U.S. is very expensive, an average student can’t afford to attend a college on their own without some kind of financial aid. This causes students to owe thousands of dollars to private and federal lenders. According to American Student Assistance, roughly 20 million of men and women attend college in the U.S. each year, which 12 million of them used some sort of financial aid in order to afford a higher education.
After students fill out their FAFSA® and complete any other form of aid, colleges use each student’s Expected Family Contribution(EFC) to determine how much financial aid the student is eligible for. Financial aid packages from colleges consist of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study. At least 50% of low income students receive some kind of aid from their school.
Colleges who have a higher endowment are usually the ones who give out more financial aid to students. However, they offer a lot of financial aid because their schools are usually very expensive. They also tend to be highly competitive to get into.
According to The Princeton Review, the following are a list of schools that provide more than the average financial aid package:
- Amherst College
- Bates College
- Bowdoin College
- Brown University
- California Institute of Technology
- Colby College
- Colgate College
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Davidson College
- Duke University
- Harvard University
- Haverford College
- Lehigh University
- Middlebury College
- Northwestern University
- Pomona College
- Princeton University
- Rice University
- St. Olaf College
- Stanford University
- Swarthmore College
- The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
- University of Chicago
- University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Richmond
- Vanderbilt University
- Vassar College
- Washington and Lee University
- Washington University in St Louis
- Wellesley College
- Williams College
- Yale University
Why Do These Schools Offer the Best Financial Aid?
Students with the most financial need tend to get the most aid because many of these schools’ financial aid initiatives are based on removing barriers to college access based on finances. These initiatives are not restricted to just low-income students. For example, Harvard and Princeton University doesn’t ask families for any contribution if family income is less than 65k, and families will only need to contribute up to 10% of their income if they make between 65k and 150k. Aid amounts operate on a sliding scale for families that make more than 150k.
What Students Do not Know
Some colleges emphasize how much financial aid they are awarding students, rather than the actual cost of attending their school. This strategy often confuses students into believing that they are getting the better end of the stick; when in reality, they may end up with more loans than they expected.
Attending school comes with many unexpected expenses such as academic-related costs and nonacademic costs. Many low-income students think they have received a good financial aid package until they notice that there’s many expenses that their financial aid package didn’t cover. Resulting, in student stressing out and eventually performing poorly in their classes. Many of these students even consider dropping out of school just because they can’t afford the lifestyle that comes with it.
Having a part-time job on campus doesn’t help much because students who have to work to help ends meet, struggling to make a living away from home, and often miss out on the college experience while their peers have the time and money to be part of the campus life.
What Students Can Do
Even with a good financial aid package students often need extra financial aid help. Michael Martinez, a Princeton University alumni, was also affected with the unexpected expenses that comes with going to college. Now as the dean of student life at Haverford College, Martinez started the Low-Income and First-In-Their-Family Assistance and Resources program. The program offers low-income students financial assistance to cover academic-related and non-academic related expenses. Across the country, many schools are sponsoring programs that help students with unexpected expenses. If you want to know if your school offers this kind of assistance, you should contact your school’s financial aid office.
Crowdfunding organizations such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo, etc. also provide students with an alternative for ways to get more financial help. Each year, as tuition costs rise, more and more people are crowdfunding their tuition and education expenses with campaigns. When grants and scholarships alone aren’t enough to cover your tuition fees, crowdfunding can help you close the gap.
One final tip for students who are choosing where to attend for college is to research the costs of living in the cities where the campuses are located, if they plan on moving for school. By understanding the costs for the city where the schools are located, students can try to account for at least some of the surprises associated with non-education costs.
Fulciniti, Francesca. “The 29 Colleges With the Best Financial Aid.” Should You Go to College? 4 Pros and 3 Cons,blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-with-the-best-financial-aid. Web. 6 June 2018
“50 Colleges with the Best Financial Aid Programs.” Best Colleges, 9 Mar. 2018, www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-financial-aid/. Thurs. 7 June 2018
The Princeton Review College Rankings & Reviews, www.princetonreview.com/. Thurs. 7 June 2018
Powell, Farran. “Colleges That Claim to Meet Full Financial Need.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2017-09-21/colleges-that-claim-to-meet-full-financial-need. Thurs. 7 June 2018