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The Best Colleges for Financial Aid

Colleges That Are the Most Generous With Aid


Rising tuition costs have forced many families around the country to reassess which universities they can afford and rethink the value of college in general, but as this year’s Princeton Review analysis of colleges shows, many schools continue to help students shoulder the burden with generous financial aid packages, even as costs go up.

More than one dozen schools offer enough aid to satisfy 100% of their students’ financial needs on average while many others meet the vast majority of their students’ needs, according to the Princeton Review, which surveyed administrators at 613 colleges about student aid doled out during the 2010-2011 school year. In many cases, Princeton found schools gave financial aid packages that averaged in excess of $30,000 or even $40,000 a year, significantly offsetting the tuition burden.

“We’ve seen so much concern among kids and families about college costs, but the biggest mistake is to cross off a school from your list early in the college research process because you feel the sticker cost is too high,” Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, told MainStreet. “The price may be high, but students need to look at the average financial aid package before they rule anything out.”

Among the schools that the Princeton Review surveyed, 10 earned the highest score possible (99) for meeting 100% of the financial needs of their students and offering generous aid packages to a significant percentage of the undergraduate student population. The schools run the gamut from small private schools to large public schools, and many count among the most prestigious institutions in the country. We’ve listed the schools here alphabetically.

Photo Credit: velcr0

Carleton College


Location: Northfield, Minn.

Tuition (without room and board): $42,690

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 55%

Average Financial Aid Package: $35,456

Photo Credit: roy.luck

Claremont McKenna College


Location: Claremont, Calif.

Tuition: $41,995

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 51%

Average Financial Aid Package: $35,329

Photo Credit: cmc.edu

Columbia University


Location: New York

Tuition: $43,088

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 60%

Average Financial Aid Package: $40,937

Photo Credit: mattjiggins

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering


Location: Needham, Mass.

Tuition: $39,000

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 100%

Average Financial Aid Package: $32,439

Photo Credit: Tostie14

Pomona College


Location: Claremont, Calif.

Tuition: $39,572

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 53%

Average Financial Aid Package: $35,838

Photo Credit: The Consortium

Princeton University


Location: Princeton, N.J.

Tuition: $37,000

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 58%

Average Financial Aid Package: $35,411

Photo Credit: antonioG4

Swarthmore College


Location: Swarthmore, Pa.

Tuition: $40,816

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 52%

Average Financial Aid Package: $36,571

Photo Credit: EAWB

Thomas Aquinas College


Location: Santa Paula, Calif.

Tuition: $22,850

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 81%

Average Financial Aid Package: $19,324

Overall Student Satisfaction with Aid: Ranked #10

Photo Credit: Thomasaquinas.edu

Vassar College


Location: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Tuition: $44,050

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 63%

Average Financial Aid Package: $40,631

Photo Credit: baslow

Yale University


Location: New Haven, Conn.

Tuition: $40,500

Percent of Undergrads Receiving Aid: 52%

Average Financial Aid Package: $39,270

Photo Credit: marc_smith

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