Top 10 Financial Aid Providers

These ten outstanding schools put an exceptional education within reach of all admitted students through generous scholarship opportunities and family-friendly financial aid policies and practices.

1. Franklin W. Olin College Of Engineering

Founded in 1997, the small, highly selective Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, has already scored top academic rankings by the Princeton Review. Its 9:1 student-faculty ratio is low and the percentage of students receiving aid is as high as it can be: 100% of students are automatically awarded a scholarship worth half the school’s total four-year costs.

  • Every student admitted to Olin receives a four-year merit scholarship equivalent to about half the total cost of attendance.
  • Olin offers a full range of need-based financial aid options to make up the difference.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $34,103.


2. Amherst College

Long esteemed as a premier liberal arts institution, Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is also a leader in financial assistance. More than half its diverse student body receives financial aid, with special funds available for veterans and international students. If you are admitted, the college will make up the difference between what you can pay and the total cost. You will graduate debt-free because Amherst has replaced student loans with grants in its aid packages.

  • Generous scholarship opportunities, including scholarships for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Average institutional aid per student: $32,286.


3. Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art

Cooper Union’s founder, industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper, wanted a quality education to be “as free as water and air.” As the only private, tuition-free college in America dedicated to architecture, art and engineering, New York City’s Cooper Union stay true to that vision. You can have an exceptional education with all the cultural advantages of Manhattan virtually free of charge—along with the chance to join an alumni circle that includes Thomas Edison.

  • All admitted U.S. students receive a full-tuition scholarship.
  • Almost half of incoming freshmen receive additional financial aid to cover room, board and incidental costs.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $31,500.
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4. Washington And Lee University

Named for two of the most influential people in American history, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, is the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Its undergraduate student body of 1,770 enjoys a low student-faculty ratio of 8 to 1 and consistent top-20 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Almost two-thirds of students receive financial aid covering full demonstrated family need, and 10% of each entering freshman class is awarded a full scholarship.

  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Awards over $26 million in financial aid to more than 65% of the student body every year.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $30,960.


5. Harvard University

When you hear “Harvard,” you may immediately think “way out of our price range.” For years the oldest college in America has symbolized not only the most exemplary education but also the most expensive. But times have changed. The educational quality is still superb—in fact, Harvard is currently considered the country’s top institution of higher learning—but now 7 out of 10 students there receive financial assistance. Loans have been replaced by grants, which don’t require repayment, in aid packages, so students graduate debt-free. If your family’s income is under a certain level, you may not have to pay a penny.

  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Dramatically reduced rates for families with incomes between $60,000 and $180,000 (zero to 10% of income).
  • Average institutional aid per student: $30,446.
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6. Williams College

U.S. News & World Report ranks highly selective Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the number one liberal arts college in America. Students enjoy unparalleled academic opportunities and a diverse, dynamic community. More than 99% of Williams’ graduates gain admission to business and law schools, including the top ones in the nation. Still, Williams’ financial aid policies could bring your costs down below what you’d pay at a state university.

  • Almost half of students receive financial aid to meet full family need.
  • No-loan aid packages mean students graduate debt-free.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $30,219.


7. Middlebury College

Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, is a highly selective liberal arts college where 2,350 students enjoy a beautiful rural setting between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks. Renowned for its environmental, language, writing and science programs, Middlebury boasts new, state-of-the-art sports, science and library facilities. The college offers admitted students enough financial aid to meet 100 percent of their demonstrated need, mostly in the form of grants, which do not require repayment.

  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Provides aid to more than 40 percent of the student body.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $29,477.


8. Colgate University

Located in upstate Hamilton, New York, Colgate University has a tradition of academic excellence that goes back to the early 1800′s. Today that tradition is matched by a commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. Colgate awards aid packages to about 39% of its 2800 undergraduates, and the bulk of each package is a grant (requiring no repayment). Families receiving aid pay only a small fraction of Colgate’s sticker price.

  • Cost of attendance: $64,800.
  • Average cost of attendance for families receiving aid: $14,500.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $29,086.
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9. Columbia University

Columbia University in New York City, a member of the Ivy League, is an extraordinarily diverse community of scholars. Its 23,000 students come from 150 countries. About fifteen percent of undergraduates are first-generation college students and almost half of freshmen self-identify as students of color. To make college affordable to everyone, Columbia’s financial aid packages now include grants, which do not require repayment, instead of loans. Students from families with incomes in a certain range qualify for greatly reduced costs of attendance—sometimes paying nothing.

  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Most families with incomes under $60,000 pay nothing.
  • Most families earning $60,000-120,000 pay no more than 10% of income.
  • Average institutional aid per student: $28,999.


10. Dartmouth College

Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Ivy League member Dartmouth College is an exceptional school with an impressive commitment to make the college affordable and accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The college awards aid to 40-50% of each entering class and guarantees that it will meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated need for all four years. If your family’s income is below a certain level, your tuition may be free.

  • Need-blind admissions (ability to pay not considered).
  • Free tuition for families earning less than $75,000 yearly (with typical assets).
  • Average institutional aid per student: $28,826.