Most families can’t afford the “sticker price” of a college, and with good reason: college costs are continually rising.

(By the way, if you are interested in going deeper on multiple elements of paying for college and winning scholarships, now would be a great time to check out our “Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers” Video Course at Udemy.com)

Although many people assume that private colleges are unaffordable because their sticker prices are much higher, the opposite is often true. Private schools tend to have fewer students and wealthier, more engaged alumni who donate big and donate often, allowing them to offer very generous need-based aid.

The following is a list of 62 colleges that report meeting the full financial need of their students.

Full financial need is determined by the EFC (estimated family contribution) based on parental income. This is referred to as “need-based” aid. The 62 colleges on this list report offering the full amount of need-based aid.

Notice that this list only includes a few public schools, such as UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia. Most of the colleges with the best need-based financial aid are private colleges.

Colleges and Universities That Meet Full Financial Need

School name (state)U.S. News rank and category
Amherst College (MA)2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Amridge University (AL)RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Barnard College (NY)29 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bates College (ME)25 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Boston College30 (tie), National Universities
Bowdoin College (ME)4 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Brown University (RI)14, National Universities
Bryn Mawr College (PA)25 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
California Institute of Technology10 (tie), National Universities
Carleton College (MN)8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Claremont McKenna College (CA)9 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colby College (ME)19 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University (NY)19 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
College of the Holy Cross (MA)32 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colorado College25 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Columbia University (NY)4 (tie), National Universities
Connecticut College48 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Cornell University (NY)15 (tie), National Universities
Dartmouth College (NH)12 (tie), National Universities
Davidson College (NC)9 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Duke University (NC)8, National Universities
Franklin and Marshall College (PA)40 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Georgetown University (DC)21 (tie), National Universities
Grinnell College (IA)19 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Hamilton College (NY)14 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Harvard University (MA)2, National Universities
Haverford College (PA)12 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Macalester College (MN)23 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Massachusetts Institute of Technology7, National Universities
Middlebury College (VT)4 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Mount Holyoke College (MA)35, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Northwestern University (IL)12 (tie), National Universities
Oberlin College (OH)23 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Occidental College (CA)43 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pitzer College (CA)36, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pomona College (CA)4 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Princeton University (NJ)1, National Universities
Rice University (TX)18 (tie), National Universities
Salem College (NC)136 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Scripps College (CA)29 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Smith College (MA)14 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Soka University of America (CA)45 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Stanford University (CA)4 (tie), National Universities
Swarthmore College (PA)3, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Thomas Aquinas College (CA)82 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Trinity College (CT)43 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Tufts University (MA)27 (tie), National Universities
University of Chicago4 (tie), National Universities
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill30 (tie), National Universities
University of Notre Dame (IN)18 (tie), National Universities
University of Pennsylvania9, National Universities
University of Richmond (VA)32 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of Southern California23 (tie), National Universities
University of Virginia26, National Universities
Vanderbilt University (TN)15 (tie), National Universities
Vassar College (NY)12 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington and Lee University (VA)14 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington University in St. Louis15 (tie), National Universities
Wellesley College (MA)4 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wesleyan University (CT)14 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
Williams College (MA)1, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Yale University (CT)3, National Universities

Data from U.S. News and World Report

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Additional Resources: “Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers” Video Course

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