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10 of the Colleges With the Most Financial Aid

It’s no secret that getting into college is more competitive than ever. Unfortunately, it’s also becoming more expensive. These days, a college education generally comes with a hefty price tag—but not everywhere!

But between crafting admissions essays and taking last-minute tests, you barely have time to think about the monetary costs of your future education. Not to worry – we’ve done the work for you! HC has scoured the nation to find 10 schools with some of the most generous financial aid programs. So instead of fretting about costs, you can focus on polishing your college app for all those eager admissions officers!

1. Williams College

Tuition (both in state and out of state): $43,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $10,440
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%

Paul Boyer, director of financial aid, explained what makes this university’s program unique. “Foremost is our ability to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students deemed eligible for aid.” Boyer said that this aid includes full coverage so students have no out-of-pocket costs. “Williams pays for all required books and art supplies for all courses a student is enrolled in.”

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2. Vassar College

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $45,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $10,263
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%

Located in upstate New York, Vassar focuses on providing need-based aid to its admitted students. Even after awarding scholarships, Vassar continues its efforts to ease the strain of tuition bills. According to the financial aid website, “Vassar will eliminate or reduce loans in the aid awards of students from low-income families.”

3. Amherst College

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $43,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $10,110
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%  

Striving to admit as many qualified applicants as possible, Amherst works hard to assist students in funding their educations. Since some students require more aid than others, the office explained that it offers a variety of packages each year. “Financial aid awards range from a few thousand dollars to the entire cost of attendance (a full scholarship). Both first-year students and transfer students are eligible for this aid.” Like many other schools, Amherst College is “need-blind" when reviewing applications. What sets it apart is the inclusion of additional components that are factored into aid packages. “In constructing student expense budgets, we include a transportation component; we allow airfare for one round trip,” an office assistant at Amherst explained.

4. Pomona College

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $40,000

Average Financial Aid Package: $9,259
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%

Located in sunny Southern California, Pomona offers a work-study program, need-based awards, and merit scholarships to assist its students. As the founding member of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona receives large donations from alumni and the surrounding community. This strengthens the school’s overall program and allows more students to benefit from financial aid. Student Mary N. told HC that Pomona really helped her family cut costs when paying her tuition. “I have two other siblings, so college expenses made things really tight. Luckily, I qualified for aid and was able to relieve some of the financial burden for my parents,” she said.

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5. Bowdoin College

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $ 43,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $8,867
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%

Financial aid director Steve Joyce said that this east coast university tries to avoid loans when possible and provide true awards instead (that don’t need to be paid back). “We replaced our standard loan offer with additional grants back in 2008 so our financial aid award includes only a work study job and the rest is grant,” Joyce explained. Even students who aren’t receiving aid can benefit from Bowdoin’s financial aid program. According to the school’s website, “If parents need help paying remaining billed charges, first year students may elect to borrow up to $5500 in low interest, federal Stafford loan money.”

6. California Institute of Technology

Tuition (both in state and out of state): $38,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $8,373
Average Percent of Need Met: 100%  

Caltech offers awards to both domestic as well as international students, which is hard to come by at many colleges. According to the financial aid office, the school’s aid is based on “demonstrated need by the student and family.” While many schools are facing budget cuts that lower their available aid, Caltech is working hard to satisfy its students’ financial needs. Sophomore Sarah Lin explained that the merit-based program has helped fund a lot of her expenses. “Caltech’s aid has truly helped me afford an education,” she said. “Fortunately, I don’t have to stress about the cost of textbooks and credit fees (costs specific to credit cards), so I can dedicate most of my time to my studies.”                                                                                                          

7. Willamette University

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $39,012
Average Financial Aid Package: $7,970
Average Percent of Need Met: 92%

This small Oregon liberal arts school is able to offer substantial amounts of aid to its students. In addition to need-based financial aid, the university gives out academic merit awards ranging from $5,000-$15,000. It also grants music, forensics, and theater scholarships based on talent. Students can apply for the Mark O. Hatfield Scholarship, which covers full tuition. The award is based on excellent academic record and demonstrated commitment to service and leadership.

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8. Lake Forest College

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $37,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $7,505
Average Percent of Need Met: 80%

Located in Illinois, this liberal arts university offers students several chances for need-based and merit-based financial aid. Undergrads can apply for loans, grants (which don’t need to be repaid), or work-study to help fund their education expenses. Director of Financial Aid Gerard Cebrzynski explained that Lake Forest also has a series of educational seminars to help students become more familiar with finances. “We offer value-added programs (free classes on practical topics) for our students, like a financial literacy program that eases the transition from senior year into the real world,” he said. These programs cover topics like budgeting, student loan repayment, and credit scores.

9. Hollins University

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $31,000
Average Financial Aid Package: $6,000
Average Percent of Need Met: 85%

Aside from federal and state financial aid, Virginia-based Hollins University offers both merit-based scholarships and need-based grants to undergraduate students. According to financial aid director Mary Jean Corriss, Hollins receives several generous donations each year. These contributions from alumnae and donors allow the university to offer large amounts of aid. Corriss also noted that Hollins’s small size is an asset. “Our Office of Scholarships and Financial Assistance has an open door policy and an interactive staff that gets to know our students and their families very well. When a financial emergency occurs for a family, we are better able to react, communicate, and address their financial aid concerns than a large university would.” 

10. Northeastern University

Tuition (both in-state and out-of-state): $39,000
Average Financial Aid Package (for four years): $5,696
Average Percent of Need Met: 69%

Northeastern offers aid through grants, loans, and scholarships, but this Boston school differentiates itself through its well-established co-op program. This allows undergrads to alternate periods of study with real-world work experience. This gives students the option of using the money they earn toward their educational costs if they wish. If you want to add polish to your resume and make some money while you’re at it, be sure to check out Northeastern.

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Sources:
Financial aid directors at colleges across the country
The College Board (collegeboard.com)
http://moneywatch.bnet.com/spending/blog/college-solution/51-colleges-wi...
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/08/02/the-top-10-u-s-colleges-for-finan... Photo Sources: http://www.stateuniversity.com/universities/VA/Hollins_University.html http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2009/08/colorful_leaves_and_to... http://www.pomona.edu/about/location/directions-to-pomona-college.aspx
http://www.gg.caltech.edu/
http://archrecord.construction.com/projects/portfolio/archives/0802bowdo...
http://www.stateuniversity.com/universities/MA/Northeastern_University.html
http://hcap.artstor.org/cgi-bin/library?a=d&d=i700
http://www.collegeprofiles.com/lakeforest.html http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/10/1023_college_tutions/source/6.htm http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1960779

Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. After her short story was published in a recent book, she decided to explore a new facet of writing and became involved with student newspapers and magazines. Between interning, taking classes, and exploring San Francisco, Dani is embracing the new opportunities that city life brings. Her true loves include traveling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food related!
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