Colleges and Universities That Claim to Meet Full Financial Need

Susannah Snider


To gauge the affordability of a college or university, the sticker price is a good place to start. But savvy students should dig deeper.

One data point to unearth is the average percent of financial need met. As universities cover more of the tuition bill than ever before, they're devoting most of that money to helping students without the resources to pay full price.

[Explore the 2015 Best Value Schools rankings list.]

Schools that meet 100 percent of need use a combination of loans, scholarships, grants and work-study to fill the gap between the cost of attendance -- tuition, fees, room, board and other expenses -- and what a family can pay. The latter figure is typically determined by the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, including tax data, assets and family size, depending on the school's formula -- which may also take into account information not provided on the FAFSA.

Of the 1,137 colleges and universities that submitted financial need data to U.S. News, just 62 of them cover full need.

Many of these schools rank high, with about one-third placing in the top 10 in their categories.

Among them are Princeton University and Williams College, ranked No. 1 among National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, respectively.

[See photos of the top 20 National Universities.]

In fact, nearly every top 20 school among the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings is on this list. One exception is the University of California--Berkeley, No. 20 among National Universities, which says it meets 97.5 percent of demonstrated need.

The other is the United States Naval Academy, No. 13 among National Liberal Arts Colleges, which charges no tuition.

Of those schools that made it on the list, only two aren't top-50 finishers in their categories. California's Thomas Aquinas College, tied with three other schools at No. 77 among National Liberal Arts Colleges, and Bethany College in Kansas, ranked No. 68 among Regional Colleges (Midwest), fall short.

Private schools also tended to dominate this list, with only three public universities reporting that they meet full need.

[Find out which private schools are the most and least expensive.]

Those include the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill, No. 30 among National Universities, the University of Virginia, tied at No. 23 in the same category, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy, No. 3 among Regional Colleges (North).

Below are the colleges and universities that claimed to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for full-time, degree-seeking undergraduates in fall 2013.

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) 19, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Bethany College (KS) 68, Regional Colleges (Midwest)
Boston College 31, National Universities
Bowdoin College (ME) 5, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Brown University (RI) 16, National Universities
Bryn Mawr College (PA)
27, National Liberal Arts Colleges
California Institute of Technology
10, National Universities
Carleton College (MN)
8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Carroll University (WI)
41, Regional Universities (Midwest)
Claremont McKenna College (CA)
8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colby College (ME)
15, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Colgate University (NY)
22, National Liberal Arts Colleges
College of the Holy Cross (MA)
34, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Columbia University (NY)
4, National Universities
Cornell University (NY)
15, National Universities
Dartmouth College (NH)
11, National Universities
Davidson College (NC)
11, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Duke University (NC)
8, National Universities
Franklin and Marshall College (PA)
37, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Georgetown University (DC)
21, National Universities
Grinnell College (IA)
19, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Hamilton College (NY)
15, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Harvard University (MA)
2, National Universities
Harvey Mudd College (CA)
15, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Haverford College (PA)
8, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Johns Hopkins University (MD)
12, National Universities
Macalester College (MN)
24, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA)
7, National Universities
Middlebury College (VT)
7, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Mount Holyoke College (MA)
41, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Northwestern University (IL)
13, National Universities
Oberlin College (OH)
23, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Occidental College (CA)
44, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pitzer College (CA)
35, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Pomona College (CA)
5, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Princeton University (NJ)
1, National Universities
Rice University (TX)
19, National Universities
Scripps College (CA)
24, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Smith College (MA)
19, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Stanford University (CA)
4, National Universities
Swarthmore College (PA)
3, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Thomas Aquinas College (CA)
77, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Trinity College (CT)
45, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Tufts University (MA)
27, National Universities
United States Merchant Marine Academy (NY)
3, Regional Colleges (North)
University of Chicago
4, National Universities
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill
30, National Universities
University of Notre Dame (IN)
16, National Universities
University of Pennsylvania 8, National Universities
University of Richmond (VA)
30, National Liberal Arts Colleges
University of Southern California 25, National Universities
University of Virginia 23, National Universities
Vanderbilt University (TN)
16, National Universities
Vassar College (NY)
11, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington and Lee University (VA)
14, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Washington University in St. Louis
14, National Universities
Wellesley College (MA)
4, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wesleyan University (CT) 15, 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. 8, 2014. For complete financial aid data, full rankings and much more, access the U.S. News College Compass.



Susannah Snider is an education reporter at U.S. News, covering paying for college and graduate school. You can follow her on Twitter or email her at ssnider@usnews.com.