Universities That Claim to Meet Full Financial Need

US News

These institutions report meeting any gap in families' funding.

Colleges have a variety of ways to bring down costs for students. Some lock in tuition rates, while others don't charge tuition at all.

And 64 colleges have pledged to meet the full financial need of any admitted undergraduate, regardless of sticker prices they may publish.

In a 2012 U.S. News survey, 1,164 colleges reported the average percentage of financial need they met for their incoming undergrad students in fall 2011. Sixty-four of those institutions, including both National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, reported meeting 100 percent, on average, of their admitted students' financial need.

A college that meets full financial need won't necessarily cover every dollar a family owes, but they will use some form of financial aid to cover the gap between total costs (including tuition, room and board, books, travel, and other expenses) and expected family contribution (EFC).

[Avoid these assumptions about college financial aid.]

The calculation of an EFC can vary by institution, as schools may use their own formulas including indicators such as household income, assets, and family size to help determine what they think a family can reasonably pay for college. Schools can also use the federal EFC, calculated from a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Once an institution has determined an EFC, the means they use to fill outstanding financial need can vary. While some schools on the list below may make up the difference with scholarships and grants, others may offer subsidized student loans or work-study opportunities. Still others may use a combination of the former (which students won't have to pay back) and the latter (which will ultimately cost the student either money or time and effort).

In what's likely to be good news for students, colleges on the list below are widespread, both in terms of geographic location and U.S. News rank. Whether students are interested in the Northeast or the West Coast, there are schools that claim to meet full financial need. And from top-ranked Harvard University and Princeton University to Concordia College, designated as Rank Not Published (RNP) by U.S. News because its numerical rank would have fallen in the bottom one fourth of schools, prospective college students have a variety of institutions to consider.

[Explore the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings.]

Some institutions, such as Grinnell College, have reported meeting full financial need for years, while others, including the University of Notre Dame, are on the list now after not making the cut last year. Only schools that are defined by U.S. News as National Universities or National Liberal Arts Colleges were considered for this report.

These colleges claimed to have met 100 percent, on average, of the financial need of their admitted full-time undergraduate students in fall 2011.

School name State U.S. News rank & category
Amherst College MA 2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Amridge University AL RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Austin College TX 63, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Barnard College NY 28, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bates College ME 22, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Boston College MA 31, National Universities
Bowdoin College ME 6, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Brown University RI 15, National Universities
Bryn Athyn College of the New Church PA RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bryn Mawr College PA 26, National Liberal Arts Colleges
California Institute of Technology CA 10, National Universities
Carleton College MN 8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Carroll University WI 43, Regional Universities (Midwest)
Claremont McKenna College CA 10, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colby College ME 18, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University NY 18, National Liberal Arts Colleges
College of the Holy Cross MA 32, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Columbia University NY 4, National Universities
Concordia College AL RNP, Regional Colleges (South)
Cornell University NY 15, National Universities
Dartmouth College NH 10, National Universities
Davidson College NC 12, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Duke University NC 8, National Universities
Emory University GA 20, National Universities
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering MA Unranked
Georgetown University DC 21, National Universities
Gettysburg College PA 46, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Grinnell College IA 22, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Hamilton College NY 16, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Harvard University MA 1, National Universities
Harvey Mudd College CA 12, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Haverford College PA 10, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Macalester College MN 24, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Massachusetts Institute of Technology MA 6, National Universities
Middlebury College VT 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Mount Holyoke College MA 32, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Northwestern University IL 12, National Universities
Oberlin College OH 26, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Occidental College CA 39, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pitzer College CA 43, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pomona College CA 4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Princeton University NJ 1, National Universities
Rice University TX 17, National Universities
Scripps College CA 24, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Smith College MA 18, National Liberal Arts Colleges
St. Olaf College MN 55, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Stanford University CA 6, National Universities
Swarthmore College PA 3, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Thomas Aquinas College CA 82, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Trinity College CT 38, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Tufts University MA 28, National Universities
University of Chicago IL 4, National Universities
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill NC 30, National Universities
University of Notre Dame IN 17, National Universities
University of Pennsylvania PA 8, National Universities
University of Richmond VA 28, National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of Virginia VA 24, National Universities
Vanderbilt University TN 17, National Universities
Vassar College NY 10, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington University in St. Louis MO 14, National Universities
Wellesley College MA 6, 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 Feb. 11, 2013. For complete financial aid data, full rankings, and much more, access the U.S. News College Compass.

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