Colleges That Claim to Meet Full Financial Need

Grants, scholarships and low-interest loans are used to meet 100 percent of students’ financial need.

By SHARE

Elite colleges are a long shot for most students. Most top-ranked Ivy League schools accept less than 10 percent of applicants, and those who make the cut have glowing academic resumes.

Some students with stellar credentials take one look at the price tag and don't even bother to apply. This is especially true of low-income students.

Poor students shy away from elite colleges, despite being qualified, according to a December 2012 report by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Part of the reason is a lack of information, a byproduct of minimal recruiting efforts, which causes students to believe the schools are financially out of reach.

Many exclusive – and expensive – colleges offer generous financial aid packages to students who demonstrate financial need. Some only meet a fraction of a student's demonstrated financial need, the difference between the total cost of attendance – which includes tuition, fees, room and board, books and other expenses – and expected family contribution.

A student's EFC is calculated by the federal government using information collected via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It takes into consideration income, assets, benefits and family size to calculate what students and their parents can reasonably pay toward a year of college. The figure can vary from school to school, as some institutions use their own formula to calculate family contribution.

[Learn how to negotiate a great financial aid package.]

Other schools use a combination of subsidized loans, scholarships, work-study and grants to cover the full gap between the school's total cost and what it determines a family can pay toward their child's education.

Nearly 1,130 colleges and universities reported fall 2012 financial aid data in an annual U.S. News survey. Of those schools, 61 said they met 100 percent of a student's demonstrated financial need.

Seventy-five percent of the schools that met full financial need placed among the top 25 in their rankings category. Thirty-six percent ranked in the top 10.

Columbia University, ranked No. 4 among National Universities in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings, is one of those schools. With a sticker price of more than $61,100 for tuition, fees and housing, Columbia is one of the 10 most expensive private schools in the country for the 2013-2014 school year.

[See which schools offer the best value.]

In fall 2012, 52 percent of full-time Columbia undergrads demonstrated financial need. All of those students had 100 percent of their need met, according to data reported by the school.

Princeton University and Williams College, ranked No. 1 among National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, respectively, also reported meeting full financial need.

Below are the colleges and universities that claimed to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for full-time undergraduates in fall 2012.

School name State U.S. News rank and category
Amherst College MA 2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Barnard College NY 32, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bates College ME 22, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Berea College KY 76, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Boston College MA 31, National Universities
Bowdoin College ME 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Brown University RI 14, National Universities
Bryn Mawr College PA 30, National Liberal Arts Colleges
California Institute of Technology CA 10, National Universities
Carleton College MN 7, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Carroll University WI 38, Regional Universities (Midwest)
Claremont McKenna College CA 9, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colby College ME 22, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University NY 20, National Liberal Arts Colleges
College of the Holy Cross MA 25, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Columbia University NY 4, National Universities
Connecticut College CT 45, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Cornell University NY 16, National Universities
Dartmouth College NH 10, National Universities
Davidson College NC 9, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Duke University NC 7, National Universities
Franklin and Marshall College PA 45, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering MA Unranked
Georgetown University DC 20, National Universities
Grinnell College IA 17, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Hamilton College NY 14, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Harvard University MA 2, National Universities
Harvey Mudd College CA 16, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Haverford College PA 9, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Macalester College MN 24, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Massachusetts Institute of Technology MA 7, National Universities
Middlebury College VT 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Mount Holyoke College MA 38, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Northwestern University IL 12, National Universities
Oberlin College OH 25, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Occidental College CA 41, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pomona College CA 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Princeton University NJ 1, National Universities
Rice University TX 18, National Universities
Scripps College CA 25, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Smith College MA 20, National Liberal Arts Colleges
St. Olaf College MN 52, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Stanford University CA 5, National Universities
Swarthmore College PA 3, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Thomas Aquinas College CA 61, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Trinity College CT 36, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Tufts University MA 28, National Universities
University of Chicago IL 5, National Universities
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill NC 30, National Universities
University of Notre Dame IN 18, National Universities
University of Pennsylvania PA 7, National Universities
University of Richmond VA 25, National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of Southern California CA 23, National Universities
Vanderbilt University TN 17, National Universities
Vassar College NY 13, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington and Lee University VA 14, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington University in St. Louis MO 14, National Universities
Wellesley College MA 7, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wesleyan University CT 17, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Williams College MA 1, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Yale University CT 3, National Universities

The financial need data above are correct as of Sept. 18, 2013. For complete financial aid data, full rankings and much more, access the U.S. News College Compass.