- Nearly 80% of American college students receive some form of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.
- For the latest edition of its best colleges list, the Princeton Review asked students how satisfied they are with their financial-aid packages. Their responses were used to form a ranking of the top-20 schools with great financial aid.
- The only two Ivy League schools on the list, Yale University and Princeton University, offer an average financial aid award that exceeds the cost of annual tuition.
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Financial aid from colleges and universities helps make higher education more accessible for millions of people. Nearly 80% of American college students receive some form of financial aid, according to the US Department of Education.
In order to uncover which schools offer the most generous financial aid to students, the Princeton Review asked 140,000 students at 385 US colleges and universities, "If you receive financial aid, how satisfied are you with your financial aid package?" Need-based financial aid typically includes scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, but may also incorporate some student loans.
Based on student responses, the Princeton Review ranked the top-20 schools offering great financial aid as part of its annual best colleges list. Each school’s page also includes information about the average financial aid award and student loans.
There are a few trends among the 20 ranking schools — most charge annual tuition between $45,000 and $55,000, have a student population far below 10,000, and offer generous need-based financial aid packages. The only two Ivy League schools on the list, Yale University and Princeton University, offer an average financial aid award that exceeds the cost of annual tuition.
But despite generous financial aid packages, many students — ranging from 16% to 91% of the student population — still take on student loans.
Below, take a look at the best colleges for financial aid, according to students.
20. St. Olaf College
Annual tuition: $49,710
Average undergraduate need-based aid: $35,236
Share of undergraduates with loans: 64%
Located in Northfield, Minnesota, St. Olaf College has a student population of around 1,760. Despite a generous average financial aid award, 64% of students have taken out student loans, with the average graduate owing $29,907.
19. University of Wisconsin-Madison
Annual tuition: $9,273 (in-state); $36,333 (out-of-state)
Average undergraduate need-based aid: $12,751
Share of undergraduates with loans: 46%
Over 32,600 students are enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where the annual tuition varies drastically for in-state versus out-of-state residents. Just under half of students (46%) take on loans, at an average of $5,446 per borrower.
18. Skidmore College
Alan Levine/Flickr Creative Commons
Annual tuition: $55,136
Average undergraduate need-based aid: $44,550
Share of undergraduates with loans: 42%
A campus of about 2,600 students located in Saratoga Springs, New York, Skidmore College provides $45 million each year in financial aid. Forty-two percent of students still take on loans though, with the average graduate owing nearly $25,000.
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