50-50 Highlights: Colleges with the Best Financial Aid

boy digging for buried treasure representing colleges with most generous financial aidThe list of 50-50 colleges and universities is designed to provide students and their families with options for good schools where students are likely to be admitted. What makes a 50-50 school even better is when it provides generous financial aid. And quite a few 50-50 schools do.

The Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) includes information on the percentage of freshman receiving institutional grants and the average amount of the grants. There are 83 50-50 schools where at least 90% of freshman receive institutional grants with an average award that is 40% or more the total cost of attendance. The average awards ranged from $12,773 to $29,390. All except one are private institutions. A total of 33 schools had 100% of freshman receiving aid.

The schools on the list are small. Only the University of Vermont, also the only public institution, had more than 3,200 full-time undergraduates. This simply reflects the reality that there are more small schools while students prefer larger schools.

Unfortunately, IPEDS doesn’t distinguish between grants based on financial need and merit scholarships. However, when virtually every freshman receives some form of an institutional grant, you can assume that a portion of that has to be for merit scholarships. According to data available from the Common Data Set, at least 29 of the colleges awarded merit aid to 20% or more of freshman without need.

Given that 90% or more of freshman are receiving institutional aid, these schools are probably not meeting 100% of financial need. Generally, when colleges meet full-need, the average institutional award will be above $30,000 but the percentage of students receivingĀ  awards will fall to below 70%. Of the schools with available Common Data Set data, only 16 report meeting on average 90% or more of freshman need.

The following table lists all 50-50 schools where 90% or more of freshman receive an institutional grant with an average award that is 40% or more the total cost of attendance. You can learn more on how to target colleges for financial aid in the upcoming Roadmap to Cutting College Cost class. The next class starts February 1st so register now to reserve your seat.

50-50 Colleges with the Best Financial Aid

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