Chart: Generous Colleges That Claim to Admit Only on Merit

Forty-six schools say they are “need-blind” in admissions and give enough aid to “meet full need.”

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Just 46 colleges say they meet the full financial needs of all of their students with aid and admit students solely on qualifications, without considering how much aid the student needs. There are some caveats: Each of these schools calculates an applicant's need for financial aid differently. In addition, these schools typically apply these generous policies only to U.S. citizens who are admitted by April 15. (Many of these schools reject or offer less aid to all but the most outstanding needy international and wait-listed applicants.)

What makes these colleges unusual? Public colleges, for example, are similarly "need-blind" and admit students solely based on their qualifications. However, all but the three public colleges on this list say they can't afford to provide all students with all the financial aid they need.

Some other private colleges have generous "meet full needs" financial aid policies but say they sometimes do reject qualified students who need more aid than the college can afford.

As the chart below shows, many "need-blind" colleges with generous-sounding aid policies still end up enrolling very few low-income students.

[Related story: Do Colleges Discriminate Against Aid Applicants?]

Still, this list can help low- and middle-income students identify colleges that are more likely to provide sufficient financial aid.

Some of the generous but "need-aware" schools actually enroll more low-income students than the schools on this list that claim to be "need blind."

[Related story: More Lists and Tools for Finding Generous or Low-Cost Schools]

Generous colleges that say they don't consider a student's financial need when deciding on admissions

College State % of students receiving Pell Grants in 2007-08* Acceptance
Rate
Yield (% of all admitted students who enroll) % of fall 2008 freshmen in top tenth of their high school graduating class
Salem College NC 49% 59% 47% 36%
Adrian College MI 30% 58% 22% 24%
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry NY 30% 48% 41% 25%
Thomas Aquinas College CA 20% 64% 69% 75%
Amherst College MA 18% 15% 38% 79%
Wabash College IN 18% 49% 38% 31%
Barnard College NY 18% 29% 47% 74%
Columbia University NY 17% 10% 60% 94%
Williams College MA 15% 17% 42% 87%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology MA 15% 12% 66% 97%
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill NC 15% 34% 53% 79%
Dartmouth College NH 15% 13% 49% 90%
Harvard University MA 14% 8% 76% 95%
Wellesley College MA 14% 36% 41% 76%
Cornell University NY 14% 21% 46% 88%
Emory University GA 14% 27% 28% 88%
Stanford University CA 13% 9% 71% 92%
Bowdoin College ME 13% 19% 44% 82%
University of Chicago IL 13% 28% 38% 86%
Pomona College CA 13% 16% 39% 86%
Harvey Mudd College CA 13% 31% 26% 95%
College of the Holy Cross MA 12% 34% 30% 61%
Grinnell College IA 12% 43% 34% 64%
St. Olaf College MN 12% 59% 35% 59%
Wesleyan University CT 12% 27% 32% 65%
Brown University RI 12% 14% 55% 93%
Vanderbilt University TN 12% 25% 37% 84%
Swarthmore College PA 12% 16% 39% 87%
California Institute of Technology CA 12% 17% 34% 97%
Haverford College PA 11% 27% 37% 91%
Hamilton College NY 11% 28% 32% 76%
Claremont McKenna College CA 11% 19% 40% 85%
Boston College MA 11% 26% 27% 80%
University of Richmond VA 11% 32% 29% 58%
Rice University TX 11% 23% 35% 85%
University of Pennsylvania PA 11% 17% 63% 99%
Vassar College NY 11% 25% 35% 70%
Northwestern University IL 10% 26% 32% 85%
Duke University NC 10% 22% 40% 90%
Georgetown University DC 10% 19% 45% 93%
Princeton University NJ 10% 10% 59% 97%
Yale University CT 10% 9% 68% 97%
Middlebury College VT 10% 17% 44% 86%
University of Notre Dame IN 9% 27% 54% 87%
University of Virginia VA 8% 37% 48% 88%
Davidson College NC 7% 26% 43% 81%
Average   14% 27% 44% 79%
* Generally awarded to students from families earning less than about $45,000/year

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