10 Colleges With Amazing Financial Aid

For young students venturing into the world of adulthood for the first time, college can often feel like a bit of a “catch-22.” 

Though it is doubtlessly one of the best ways to move forward in the world and overcome future income struggles, an uncomfortable fact remains: in order to receive those benefits, a person often has to be ready first to take on massive amounts of debt. 

Luckily, there is hope. 

In many cases, schools are willing to help ease that burden with the help of compelling financial aid packages. 

From universities that offer no cost of attendance below certain income levels to amazing offers available to students with special skills or academic history, plenty of generous educational institutions are willing to do whatever is necessary to help young students meet their goals and achieve their dreams.

If this feels too good to be true, read on to learn more about these 10 colleges with amazing financial aid. 

NOTE: Financial aid information can change year-to-year for some colleges; we recommend verifying all financial aid details through a college’s website before committing to an application and using the information here as a reference only.

Williams College (Williamstown, MA)

Williams College
Beyond My Ken, Morgan Hall Williams College, CC BY-SA 4.0

In many cases, students hoping for financial aid opportunities often need to “prove” that need through mandatory work assignments or summer jobs. 

At Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, that is no longer the case.

This college offers one of the most generous financial aid opportunities in the country, meeting 100 percent of all financial needs without any loans, work, or outside pressure!

To improve things even further, Williams College is one of the few institutions in the country to guarantee free textbooks and other materials for students who qualify for this financial aid.

This amazing opportunity does not come at the expense of quality. As of recent reviews from the US News and World Report, Williams College has been ranked the top liberal arts college in the United States. 

University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)

University of Chicago
Michael Barera, University of Chicago (Joe and Rika Mansueto Library), CC BY-SA 4.0

Since its founding, the University of Chicago has worked hard to establish a reputation as one of the most renowned universities in the nation, with particular praise heaped upon its business program

Now, that same university is opening its doors even further with financial aid opportunities designed to make this world-class education more accessible than ever!

As part of its new “No Barriers” program, the University of Chicago can ensure free tuition to all students from families making less than $125,000 per year. 

Additionally, students from families making less than $60,000 per year will have access to completely free room and board.

This amazing program also offers access to study abroad and other fantastic chances to expand educational opportunities.

Across the board, all students who apply for financial aid can apply to this university without any form of application or processing fees. 

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia Business School
Beyond My Ken, 2014 Columbia University Uris Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Most colleges and universities offer a single pathway to financial aid; at Columbia University, the office of financial aid understands that when it comes to paying for college, there is no true “one size fits all” solution. 

In that name, Columbia has instituted an intricate, multi-layered financial aid system, ensuring that any student bright enough to achieve acceptance into this amazing university will have the means to seize the opportunity.

This university meets all needs of every qualifying first-year or transfer student into the undergraduate program. This office offers both needs-based and needs-blind paths to aid, understanding that only some students receive the same level of outside support, regardless of parental income.

Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Sidney Frank Hall for Life Sciences, Brown University, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the most popular Ivy League schools in the nation, Brown University takes pride in accepting students based more on work ethic than on natural ability. 

In the name of finding even more students who are determined to overcome life’s natural challenges, they are now proud to offer one of the nation’s most comprehensive financial aid programs!

Through the Brown Promise, Brown “eliminates packaged loans from all undergraduate financial awards.”

Though some Ivy League colleges have a reputation for snobbishness, students have no reason to fear any form of stigma related to their financial needs. 

Currently, over fifty percent of all students on campus benefit from some form of aid. 

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University Risley Hall
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Risley Hall, Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

When Ezra Cornell first founded this esteemed university, he did so on a simple principle: being able to offer an institution where “any person can find instruction in any study.”

With Cornell’s commitment to covering 100 percent of tuition for qualifying students, this dream is more practical than ever!

Families who earn less than $60,000 with “typical assets” are awarded full tuition, no questions asked!

Regardless of income, this university remains committed to offering as many opportunities as possible through a combination of Cornell Grants– none of which require any form of later repayment– and work-study programs, allowing students to gain valuable experience while also lowering their own cost of tuition.

Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Johns Hopkins University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

It’s difficult to research any aspect of American medical history without encountering at least a few references to Johns Hopkins University. 

For decades, this institution has been giving back in the form of outstanding medical discoveries. Today, they continue to do so by opening doors that might otherwise have remained closed to needy students.

Currently, over half of all first-year students on campus benefit from some form of financial aid, with the average student receiving around $44,000 in assistance. 

In many cases, qualifying students can look forwards to attending this university completely free of cost, but a student doesn’t have to demonstrate low income in order to receive these benefits. Nearly ninety percent of all students from families making less than $200,000 per year benefit from the assistance of Johns Hopkins Grants.

Rice University (Houston, Texas)

Rice University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The office of admission poses an intriguing question on its website: “What if one of the top research universities didn’t act like all the other selective schools?”

Named after famed American businessman William Marsh Rice, Rice University has gained a reputation for success across all areas of college life. 

Praised for its campus culture as well as its rigorous academic history– including advanced research surrounding the invention of the artificial heart– this university is doubtlessly one of the most prestigious in the country.

Now, with its sliding-scale financial aid system, Rice University is opening the doors of opportunity to even more students!

Through the Rice Investment, every student whose family receives less than $75,000 annually benefits from free tuition, room, board, and related fees.  As the income changes, so do the rewards; even so, students from families making $200,000 or less can still benefit from half of all tuition costs.

UNC-Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Mx. Granger, Carolina Hall at UNC, CC0 1.0

While many significant universities take pride in accepting students of the most prestigious backgrounds, UNC Chapel Hill chooses to give back to its community instead.

Through the Carolina Covenant, students who stand within 200 percent of the poverty guideline can attend this university free of charge.  

Through a combination of grants and work-study opportunities, this program allows students to graduate college completely free from loans. 

Since 2004, this program has supported over 10,000 students– more than half of whom were the first in their families to attend college– in achieving their dreams. 

Today, more than 10% of all students on campus are proud Covenant Scholars. 

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Vassar College Main Building
Akarenbon, Vassar College Main Building 2, CC BY-SA 4.0

According to its website, Vassar College is “committed to making education accessible.” 

To see that through, they offer full financial assistance for all qualifying students, awarded exclusively based on need. 

By ensuring that the students in need have access to the life-changing opportunity of quality education, Vassar takes steps towards leveling the playing field, earning it a place in US News and World Report rankings as one of the best value schools in the country. 

Additionally, this college has been awarded a place among the top colleges for social mobility, praised for keeping education affordable without diluting the overall quality. 

As such, this college remains among the top twenty liberal arts colleges in the country, with particular praise for the care it shows towards veterans.

Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)

Dartmouth College
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Dartmouth College is well known for its blend of unique, seemingly polar qualities. 

Though ranked among the top Ivy League colleges in the nation, it maintains an outdoorsy, casual feel and cozy campus atmosphere. Though it receives frequent praise for its thriving Greek life, this fun does not come at the expense of its education.

Lastly, though this college remains one of the most exclusive in the nation, its outstanding financial aid opportunities ensure that it is also among the most welcoming.

Recently, Dartmouth announced that it plans on eliminating all student loans from its financial aid program, allowing even more students to step directly from college into the outside world, free of debt. 

On this subject, the college president proudly said, “Thanks to this extraordinary investment by our community, students can prepare for lives of impact with fewer constraints.”