Looking for a free college or at least free tuition?
A free college education isn’t the norm in the United States; however, many colleges, including some prestigious ones, provide free tuition and other financial assistance.
College Student Debt
In 2011, due to the high cost of attending college, the total amount of American student loan debt was more than $1 trillion.
About 25% of borrowers are behind on their loans. University of Wisconsin demographer Jason Houle finds students from middle-class families pile up more student loan debt on average than other students.
According to a Harvard University study, due to the high cost of a college education and other factors, American college students are leaving college without a degree at higher rates than in other developed countries.
In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics finds that the average total cost of attending college in 2010–11 for first-time, full-time students living on-campus and paying in-state tuition at public, four-year schools, was $20,100. The average cost at private, nonprofit, four-year schools was $39,800. The total cost includes tuition, required fees, books and supplies, and the average for room and board and other expenses. At the campus level, the average student debt numbers collected for the report vary widely, ranging from $3,000 to $55,250.
Moreover, according to the Project on Student Debt, provided by the Institute for College Access & Success, students who borrowed money to obtain a bachelor’s degree in 2011 graduated with an average student loan debt of $26,600. The report also shows that about two-thirds of students in the class of 2011 had loans. Approximately one-fifth of all student loans are private, with the rest supplied by the U.S. government, in one form or another.
Thus, many college students begin their careers with significant debt. Many of them can’t afford to take an unpaid internship, which could help put their career on an upward trajectory.
The College Board reports the following average 2012–13 tuition and fees:
- Public, four-year, in-state students: $8,654
- Public, four-year, out-of-state students: $21,706
- Private, nonprofit, four-year: $29,056
- For-profit schools: $15,172
Public schools are often recognized as less expensive than private colleges; however, many students at private schools don’t pay the full cost of their education. For example, at Yale, in 2011, the average financial aid for the 57% of students who qualified was $38,900.
Check out the Ivy League Schools
The Ivy League schools are some of the most expensive schools in the nation. On the other hand, most Ivy League schools provide free tuition and other financial assistance for students from families with an income below a specific threshold, such as $60,000. All of the Ivy League schools have a “no-loans” policy; they provides grants instead of loans.
Top colleges have become more generous with grants. A major reason for this is that they don’t want to pass up on exceptional students who may go on to have notable careers.
College Selection Guidelines
We selected the best colleges providing free tuition, based on financial aid packages, quality of degree programs, types of courses offered, faculty prestige, rankings, awards, and overall school reputation.
We provide two lists: Colleges offering free tuition to most students, and colleges offering free college tuition to students from families with an income below a specific income ceiling.
Best Colleges Providing Free Tuition
#1 Deep Springs College
Deep Springs College, located on a cattle-ranch and alfalfa farm in Inyo County, California, educates students of exceptional ability. Many of the students have turned down offers from some of the most highly esteemed colleges in the United States.
The college provides a unique alternative to the first two years of a traditional four-year education program. Most of the students complete their degree at the most prestigious four-year institutions in the world. Over two-thirds of graduates of Deep Springs College have a graduate degree.
Deep Springs College, established on the pillars of academics, labor, and self-governance, prepares students for lives of service to humanity. Students have the dominate decision-making authority regarding admissions, curriculum, and hiring of faculty members.
During the admissions process, the college emphasizes academic ability, leadership potential, and a desire to assume active and practical responsibility for the ongoing life of the Deep Springs community.
Admissions rate selectivity varies from 6% to 15%, year-to-year. Accepted students’ SAT scores generally average 700 for math and in the upper 700 range for verbal.
However, Deep Springs College regards essays and the interview as more important factors in the admission process. Females can apply to enroll in the class of 2013.
Each of its 26 students receives a full-scholarship valued at over $50,000 per year. Students work, at a minimum, 20 hours per week on the ranch or farm, or in positions related to the college or community.
#2 Cooper Union
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to as Cooper Union, is located in New York City. It consists of the School of Art, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering.
The schools are connected by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Each school provides undergraduate degrees and specialized programs. Cooper Union has highly regarded engineering, art, and architecture programs.
Cooper Union hosts a number of research institutes, such as the C.V. Starr Research Foundation and the Institute for Sustainable Design. The college provides degree programs in the fields of fine arts, architecture, and several engineering areas, and also offers a wide range of continuing education and professional certification programs.
Cooper Union was ranked #1 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (North) by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been named #1 Desirable Small School and the 7th most desirable school by Newsweek magazine. Based on a 2012 peer assessment survey, the school was ranked #6 best undergraduate engineering program whose highest engineering degree is a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.
Copper Union has a 9-to-1 student/faculty ratio and a 94.2% freshman retention rate. The institution has 988 students, of which 927 are undergraduates. It accepts about 7% of applicants.
SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 610/720; math: 650/780; writing: 620/730.
Every registered undergraduate and graduate student receives a free tuition scholarship. Undergraduate and graduate tuition is a little over $19,000 per semester. Every student enrolled in a degree program pays a $775 fee every semester. Students living in student residence pay the regular housing fee of $9,700 for a double, and $10,800 for a single, per academic year.
#3 Curtis Institute of Music
Curtis Institute of Music, one of the leading conservatories in the world, provides training and education to exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists at the highest professional level. The institute provides complete musical training, as well as liberal arts courses.
Curtis Institute provides a performance Diploma, a Bachelor of Music degree, a Master of Music in Opera degree, and a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.
The institute has 165 students. Students of elementary-school and high-school age receive training from the same instructors at the same intensive levels as do older students. Curtis does not have teaching assistants.
The school’s trained instrumentalists hold 16% of the principal chairs of the top 25 U.S. orchestras. More than 60 graduates have performed at the Metropolitan Opera. Two music directors of the New York Philharmonic have come from Curtis Institute.
Graduates of Curtis Institute of Music are regularly among the winners of the most prestigious awards and honors in classical music, including competitions, prizes, and career grants. Graduates have received Pulitzer Prizes, Tony and Grammy Awards, and Guggenheim Fellowships.
Curtis Institute has a 4% acceptance rate. It selects students based on artistic promise. Every applicant must audition in person. The institute does not have minimum or maximum age requirements.
Every students receives a full-tuition scholarship. For the 2011–2012 school year, the undergraduate tuition is valued at $36,500 and $49,500 for graduate student tuition. Financial assistance for living expenses is based entirely on need. Room and board costs $13,670 per year.
#4 College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks, a private, Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, is located in Point Lookout, Missouri.
The college has more than 30 majors in a variety of areas, and also provides pre-professional programs and certificates and pre-professional credentials.
College of the Ozarks has about 1,500 students and a 16-to-1 student/faculty ratio. Alcohol and drugs are prohibited on and off campus.
College of the Ozarks is ranked #9 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (Midwest), and #21 in the Midwest, by Forbes.
Nine percent of applicants are admitted. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 580/630; math: 530/560; and writing: 540/570.
Full-time students receive a free college tuition. Ninety percent of applicants are required to show financial need to be accepted. Students are required to work 15 hours a week at an on-campus work station, as well as two, 40-hour work weeks during breaks. The school provides a summer work program to cover the $5,600 cost of room and board.
#5 Berea College
Berea College, a private, liberal arts college located in Berea, Kentucky, provides degrees in 28 fields.
The college has about 1,600 undergraduate students from all 50 states and about 60 countries; however, the majority of the students are from Appalachia.
Berea College has an 11-to-1 student/faculty ratio. All students are required to live on campus, unless they are 23 years of age or older, married, or a parent.
Berea College is ranked #75 in the 2013 edition of Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. news & World Report.
The college has an 11% acceptance rate, and a 79.5% average freshman retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 495/640; math: 483/588; and writing: 513/610.
The college, which serves students with limited economic resources, does not charge tuition. Room and board is $5,792 per year. Every student is required to work at least 10 hours per week in campus-approved jobs in over 130 departments.
#6 Webb Institute
Web Institute, located in Glen Cove, New York, is known for providing a top-notch engineering education.
Webb Institute provides a single undergraduate degree option in naval architecture and marine engineering. It’s the only school in the nation devoted to ship-design engineering. The institute does not have teaching assistants.
The academic program involves several engineering disciplines, including marine engineering, mechanical engineering, ship design and systems engineering; electrical engineering, and civil/structural engineering.
During the Winter Work Term, students work in the maritime industry and receive a salary. The institute has 80 students and a student/faculty ratio of 7-to-1.
Webb Institute has a 37% acceptance rate and an 87.2% average freshman retention rate. Over 75% of freshmen scored over 1310 on the SAT I.
Every student receives a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. Students live on campus, on an estate with a private beach. Student costs are limited to room and board, books, laptop, and software. Room and board is estimated to be $13,200. Students participate in internships to earn money.
#7 Macaulay Honors College at City University of New York (CUNY)
Macaulay Honors College, located in New York City, reports that it inspires and prepares high-achieving students to solve the challenges facing New York, the United States, and the global community.
The college provides a liberal arts education combining traditional and innovative teaching and learning.
Macaulay Honors College has about 1,400 students. Its students have enrolled in top graduate programs.
Students enroll in one of eight CUNY colleges through the Macaulay Advising Program. Every student creates a coordinated, individualized, academic program, which includes courses selected from more than 210 majors.
The college provides graduate and professional mentoring, global learning, faculty-student research collaboration, and community engagement. Students of Macaulay Honors College have opportunities to take internships and meet and network with New York’s dynamic companies.
Most students in the Macaulay Honors program have a combined SAT critical reading and math score of about 1400 and an A average in high school.
The upper-level seminars allow students to incorporate coursework and their primary research in a collaborative setting. Students can also attend a wide range of semester and year-long study-abroad programs at universities throughout the world.
All students are required to complete 10 hours of community service in each of their first three years; however, many students complete more hours of community service.
All students at Macaulay Honors College receive a full, undergraduate, free-tuition scholarship (exclusive of fees). They also receive a $7,500 Opportunities Fund grant for global research, study service, and internships, as well as a laptop computer and a Cultural Passport to New York City arts and cultural events. Many students also receive housing support.
Students are required to meet CUNY residency requirements for in-state tuition in order to receive the full-tuition scholarship.
#8 Alice Lloyd College
Alice Lloyd College, a liberal arts college located in Pippa Passe, Kentucky, has students from 108 counties in the Appalachia Mountains regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Alice Lloyd College has almost 600 students and a 17-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
The college offers bachelor’s degree programs and pre-professional programs to prepare students for advanced studies in medicine, law, and more. Part of the college’s mission is providing an atmosphere in which Christian values are maintained.
Alice Lloyd College is ranked #39 in the 2103 edition of Best Colleges‘ Regional Colleges (South).
The school typically accepts 18% of applicants. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 460/590; math: 420/520; and writing: 440/480.
Alice Lloyd College provides free tuition. All students are required to work at least 160 hours per semester in an on-campus job or in the local community in the Student Work Program. The cost of living in a dormitory is about $1,900 annually.
#9 Barclay College
Barclay College, a Bible college located in Haviland, Kansas, provides bachelor’s degree programs in Pastoral Ministry, Youth Ministry, Christian Elementary Education, Sports and Recreational Leadership, Business Administration, and other fields. Associate’s degrees are available in Biblical Studies and General Studies.
The college also offers a Bible Knowledge certificate and a Ministry certificate, as well as a Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership degree program. In addition, Barclay College provides coursework via a distance learning program.
A Quaker school, Barclay College has about 250 students, and welcomes students from all evangelical faith traditions seeking a rigorous academic setting with a solid biblical foundation. The school’s mission is to prepare students in a Bible-centered environment for effective Christian life, service, and leadership.
Barclay College has a 49% admission rate. SAT scores (25th-75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 410/460; math: 410/440 and writing: 290/410.
Students receiving full-tuition scholarship are required to live in on-campus housing. The scholarship is worth $11,000 per year. A student’s maximum cost is $10,590, which covers the cost of room and board and fees.
Best Colleges Providing Free Tuition Based on Family Income
(Note: Many top schools offering free tuition to families with an income below a specific ceiling could be in this list. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas A&M University, in particular, have been included on account of their relatively high acceptance rates.)
#1 Harvard University
Harvard University, a private, Ivy League research university, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The university’s history, wealth, and influence makes it one of the world’s most prestigious universities. The Harvard University Library is the nation’s largest academic library and one of the largest in the world.
Harvard University is ranked #1 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #6 by Forbes. Harvard was also ranked #3 in 2012 in the QS World University Rankings.
The university provides a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university has about 20,000 students and a 7-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
Harvard has a 6% acceptance rate and a 97% first-year, full-time student retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 690/790; math: 700/800; and writing: 690/790.
Admission to Harvard University is need-blind; however, financial aid at Harvard University is entirely need-based. The University is devoted to meeting the demonstrated need of all students.
Due to the Harvard Financial Aid initiative, parents with an income below $60,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs. Home equity and retirement accounts are not considered resources in determining family contribution. Financial aid packages do not include loans.
Families with higher incomes dealing with unusual financial challenges may also qualify for need-based scholarship assistance; however, those with significant assets at all income levels are asked to contribute proportionally more.
Tuition and fees amounts to $40,867, while room and board is $13,630.
Beginning with the Class of 2016, families with incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 will contribute from 0% to 10% of income, and those with incomes above $150,000 will be asked to pay proportionately more than 10%, based on their individual circumstances.
About 70% of students receive some type of financial aid and more than 60% receive need-based scholarships. Students are asked to contribute to cover the cost of their education through term-time and summer work.
#2 Yale University
Yale University, a private, Ivy League research university, is located in New Haven, Connecticut.
a member of the Association of American Universities, Yale has the top-ranked law school in the country, as well as highly ranked school of medicine, management, nursing, and art.
Yale University has about 5,300 undergraduate and 6,100 graduate and professional students, with a 5-to-1 student/faculty ratio. Also, the university has over 450 active organizations on campus.
Besides thoroughly studying their major field, students are expected to explore three important areas of knowledge: the social sciences, the humanities and arts, and the natural sciences.
Students live in one of the residential colleges during their time at Yale. The university is well known for its secret societies. The faculty is known for its special devotion to undergraduate teaching. Many of the university’s most distinguished professors teach introductory courses and advanced seminars to undergraduate students.
Yale University is ranked #3 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in national universities by U.S. News & World Report. It is ranked #7 in the 2012 QS World University Rankings and #10 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Yale University has a 7.7% acceptance rate and a 98% first-year student retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 700/800; math: 710/790; and writing: 710/800.
The total cost of attending Yale is about $58,600 per year, which includes tuition, room and board, books, and personal expenses. Families with a total gross income of less than $65,000 are not expected to make a contribution for their child’s education. Yale University meets 100% of demonstrated financial need. The expected annual parent contribution is $10,000; however, more than 10% of Yale University undergraduate families are expected to pay nothing for the education.
The estimated family contribution includes a contribution out of the student’s assets, if appropriate, along with income from summer earnings, which is standard for most undergraduate students.
#3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a private, research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has five schools and one college.
MIT has almost 10,900 students and an 8-to-1 student/faculty ratio. The school has a strong emphasis on scientific, technological, and engineering education and research. MIT also has a strong entrepreneurial culture. MIT is part of the Association of American Universities.
MIT is included among the top 10 in many overall rankings of universities. The school’s strongest showings, besides in engineering, are in the fields of business, natural sciences, linguistics, economics, and mathematics.
The university is ranked #6 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #1 in 2012 by QS World University Rankings.
MIT has an acceptance rate of 9.7% and an average freshman retention rate of 97.5%. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 670/770; math: 740/800; and writing: 680/770.
The institute provides free tuition with scholarships and grants for students from families with earnings of $75,000 or less. Twenty-nine percent of MIT undergraduates come from families with an income of $75,000 or less.
All students receiving aid are expected to pay for a portion of their need via a loan, part-time job, or both. Sixty-two percent of undergraduates work during the term, either on campus or under the Federal Work-Study Program.
In 2011–2012, students from families earning $75,000 or less are expected to contribute $4,400; the rest of the students contribute $6,0000. Tuition and fees amount to $42,050, while room and board is $12,188.
Seventy-four percent of undergraduates receive a need-based or merit-based scholarship, 61% of which receive a need-based MIT scholarship with an average award of $32,917.
Forty-one percent of undergraduates have student debt after graduation; the average debt at graduation is $20,800.
#4 Columbia University
Columbia University, located in New York City, is a private, Ivy League research university.
The university has three undergraduate schools: Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering. Columbia also has a number of graduate and professional schools. The university offers more than 100 majors and concentrations. Columbia University is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.
The student population consists of about 26,000 students, including a little more than 8,100 undergraduates. Over 90% of students live in on-campus housing. The school has 6-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
Columbia University operates seven Columbia Global Centers overseas, in Amman, Bejing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, and Santiago.
Columbia University is ranked #4 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #8 by Forbes. Columbia University is tied for first in the first tier of the nation’s top research universities list by the Center for Measuring University Performance.
Columbia University accepts about 10% of applicants. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 690/780; math: 700/790; and writing 690/780. Columbia University has a 95% first-year, full-time student retention rate.
Parents with calculated incomes of less than $60,000 and with typical assets are not expected to contribute any income or assets to tuition, room and board, or mandatory fees. No student qualifying for Columbia financial aid is expected to take out loans as part of his or her financial package.
Families with calculated incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 have a reduction in their parent contributions. The university has no official income ceiling for financial aid eligibility. It reports that many families with calculated incomes over $100,00 receive financial aid packages.
For students participating in the study abroad program, community service opportunities, internships, and research, Columbia University provides additional funding and exemptions from academic year and summer work expectations.
#5 Stanford University
Stanford University, a private, research university located in Stanford, California, offers undergraduate and graduate degree program in a variety of subjects.
Stanford has seven schools: earth sciences, humanities and sciences, business, medicine, law, engineering, and education. The schools of engineering, humanities and sciences, and earth sciences provide undergraduate and graduate programs, whereas the schools of medicine, law, and education and the graduate school of business only provide graduate programs. Stanford University is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.
The university has over 15,300 students. It reports that it values close interaction between undergraduate students and faculty members. The university also strongly supports student participation in research. Stanford has an entrepreneurial character. The university emphasizes multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and research. Also, Stanford University provides the Bing Overseas Studies Program.
In 2011, Stanford was ranked #1 in the world in both humanities and social sciences by The Times of Higher Education World Rankings. That same year, the university was also ranked #2 best research university by THES, and #2 in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In 2012, it was ranked #15 by QS World University Rankings, while it is also ranked #6 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #3 by Forbes.
Stanford University has a 7% admission rate and a 98% first-year student retention rate. SAT scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 670/770; math: 690/780; and writing: 680/780.
Tuition and fees amount to $41,787, while room and board is $12,721. Parents with an income below $60,000 and typical assets for this income range are not expected to make any financial contribution to their child’s education.
For parents with an income below $100,000 and typical assets for this income range, the expected parent contribution is low enough to make sure all tuition charges are covered with need-based scholarships, state and federal grants, and/or outside scholarship funds. Families with incomes at higher levels, usually up to $200,000, may also qualify for assistance, especially if more than one family member is attending college.
Students receiving a financial aid package are expected to contribute to paying for the cost of their education. Most students will contribute at least $5,000 from prior earnings, especially summer earnings, and $2,800 from part-time employment during the academic year. Students are also expected to contribute 5% per year of their savings and investments, if they have any. Students can reduce or eliminate their expected contribution from student earnings by acquiring outside scholarships.
#6 Duke University
Duke University, a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, is a global university with student and faculty from numerous countries. The university encourages students to go abroad to study, conduct research, and perform service.
Duke University is ranked #8 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #24 by Forbes. The university is also ranked #27 in the nation and #35 in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, as well as #26 in the nation by Washington Monthly, and #20 in 2012 by QS World University Rankings.
Duke University is a member of the Association of American Universities, and is a part of the “research triangle,” along with UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
Duke has about 6,800 undergraduates, and 6,000 graduate and professional students, distributed among 10 schools and colleges. The university has a 7-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
Graduate programs include the highly ranked Pratt School of Engineering, Fuqua School of Business, School of Medicine, School of Law, School of Nursing, and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Duke University also provides graduate programs through its Divinity School and Nicolas School of the Environment.
Duke accepts about 16% of the applicants and has a 97% first-year student retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 650/750; math: 690/780; and writing: 670/770.
Domestic families with a total institutionally determined income less than $60,000 and typical assets are not expected to make a contribution to their child’s education. The estimated total cost of attending Duke University for one year is $59,343, which includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, and personal expenses.
The average financial aid awarded to the class of 2014 for families with various annual income levels is shown below:
- $60–79.9K: About $48,000
- $80–100K: About $41,000
- $100–120K: Approximately $40,000
- $120K+: Approximately $19,000
The student portion of the Expected Family Contribution is based on every student’s working during the summer to invest in their education. First-year students are expected to earn $2,100, sophomores, $2,400, juniors, $2,500, and seniors, $2,600.
#7 Brown University
Brown University, a private, Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island, consists of the College, Alpert Medical School, the Graduate School, and the School of Engineering.
Brown’s international programs are organized via the Watson Institute of International Studies. The Graduate School provides a number of notable programs, including in English and history. The university provides an array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Brown is the only major research university in the nation where undergraduates are the architects of their own course of study. It is often considered the most liberal of the Ivy League Schools. Brown has more of an undergraduate focus than other top-ranked universities.
Brown University is often recognized for its global reach, numerous campus groups, active community service programs, and many cultural events.
The university is a member of the Association of American Universities, and has 8,649 students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. The school has a 9-to-1 student/faculty ratio.
Brown University is ranked #15 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities. In 2012, Brown University was ranked #51 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and #42 in the 2012 QS World University rankings.
Brown University has a 9% acceptance rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 630/740; math: 650/760; and writing: 640/750. The university has a first year 98% retention rate.
Families with total parent earnings of less than $60,000 and assets of less than $100,000 are not required to make a financial contribution to their child’s education. Undergraduate students with a total parent income of less than $100,000 do not have a loan component in their award. Tuition is $43,758 per year and the total direct and indirect costs are $58,140.
Brown University meets 100% of a student’s full, demonstrated need. Forty-six percent of the class of 2016 received need-based scholarships; the average need-based scholarship is $40,209.
The student contribution from summer earnings is a standard contribution required for all students. An academic year work-study/campus employment expectation is part of the federal financial aid program.
The following information for the 2012–2013 academic year is based on one student attending Brown University:
- Family of five, with one junior student with a total income of $87,000 and assets of $161,000, pay $17,400
- Family of four, with one sophomore student with a total income of $105,000 and assets of $63,000, pay $20,770
- Family of four, with one freshman student with a total income of $53,000 and assets of $127,000, pay $4,790
- Family with one freshman student with a total income of $160,000 and assets of $150,000 pay $40,050
#8 Cornell University
Cornell University, a private, Ivy League research university located in Ithaca, New York, has seven undergraduate and seven graduate divisions at its main Ithaca campus.
The university offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City and one in Education City, Qatar.
Cornell is ranked #15 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. It is ranked among the 20 top universities in the world in a variety of rankings.
The university is a member of the Association of American Universities. Its research spans a wide array of subjects, ranging from the basic and theoretical to applied research.
Cornell University has over 20,900 students and a 9-to-1 student/faculty ratio. The university has students from all 50 states and 122 countries.
Cornell has an 18% acceptance rate and a 97% freshman retention rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 630/730; and math: 670/770.
Parents with a combined income of less than $60,000 and assets totaling less than $100,000 pay nothing for their child’s education. Students contribute money from a summer job and a small amount of money from savings. The total estimated cost of attending Cornell University for one year is $59,751, which includes tuition, student activity fees, housing, dining, books and supplies, personal expenses, and travel expenses.
The university’s website uses as an example a student with a total family income of $51,000 and less than $100,000 in assets; in this scenario, the parents pay nothing for their child’s education. The student received a total financial aid package of $56,501 per year, consisting of a Cornell Grant and Federal Work Study, including about 10 hours or work per week in a campus job during the academic year. The student is expected to contribute $3,250 for his first year at Cornell University, which includes $750 from his own personal assets of $3,000 dollars and the money—about $2,500—he will earn from a summer job prior to entering Cornell University.
Cornell University doesn’t have a standard “income bracket” or ceiling for grant-aid recipients; rather, eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. The university doesn’t have a minimum or maximum amount of grant awarded. Income, family size, and assets, as well as the number of children in college, are all factors for calculating the amount a family is required to contribute.
#9 Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University, a private, research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, has about 12,000 students from all 50 states and from more than 90 foreign countries.
Vanderbilt has an 8-to-1 student/faculty ratio. Also, due to the university’s emphasis on research, it is a member of the Association of American Universities.
The university tends to place well in national rankings. Vanderbilt University is ranked #17 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, and #33 by Forbes.
Vanderbilt has the following undergraduate schools and colleges: College of Arts and Science, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, School of Engineering, and Blair School of Music.
The university has the following graduate and professional schools: Divinity School, Law School, Graduate School, School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and the Owen Graduate School of Management. It also has six graduate and professional schools.
Vanderbilt provides 70 undergraduate majors; students can also create their own majors. The university’s study abroad program is provided in over 25 countries.
The university accepts about 16% of applicants. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 680/770; math: 700/780; and writing: 670/760. Vanderbilt University has a 95% first-year student retention rate.
Tuition and fees per year cost an estimated $42,824. The estimated total cost of attending Vanderbilt University is $60,596 per academic year, which includes tuition, fees, room and board, and books. In 2012–2013, over 60% of undergraduate students received some type of financial assistance from one or more sources. All students with demonstrated financial need receive grant/gift assistance instead of loans.
Vanderbilt University meets 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need. Financial aid awards do not include loans. The median award for families in the income range of $0 to $40,000 is $59,147, and the awards range from $31,748 to $63,940. The average financial aid package for first-year students entering the university in 2012 who received need-based assistance (including Vanderbilt funds) consisted of 97% gift aid and 3% work.
Need-based awards to first-year students of 2012/2013 based on family income are shown below:
- $40–$60K: $57,512
- $60–$80K: $53,542
- $80–$100K: $49,543
- $100–$120K: $45,328
- $120–$140K: $39,567
- $200K+: $17,061
#10 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), a public, research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, provides over 70 bachelor’s, over 100 master’s, and 74 doctoral degree programs.
All undergraduate students receive a liberal arts education. Undergraduate students have the option to pursue a major within the College of Arts and Sciences or within one of the university’s professionals schools from the time they obtain junior status.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is ranked #30 in the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges in National Universities, and #5 top public school, by U.S. News & World Report. Many of the university’s professional schools have received high rankings in publications such as U.S. News & World Report and Forbes magazine.
UNC has more than 28,000 students. By law, at least 82% of each freshman class must be from North Carolina. Nearly half of all undergraduates live on campus.
The University of North Carolina provides 300 study abroad programs in 70 countries. The university has one of the highest percentage of undergraduates studying abroad of any public institution.
University of North Carolina has a 31% acceptance rate. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 590/700; math: 610/710; and writing: 590/690. The university has 97% freshman retention rate.
The Carolina Covenant promises that youth from low-income families eligible for the program can graduate with a bachelor’s degree with no debt. To be eligible for the Carolina Covenant, students must be enrolled at the school as a full-time undergraduate student, be dependent on a parent whose income is no more than 200% of federal poverty guidelines and not have other resources to pay for college, meet citizen requirements, and meet eligibility standards for federal financial aid programs.
Students from any state are considered for the Carolina Covenant. In-state tuition and fees cost $7,694, and out-of-state tuition and fees cost $28,446. Room and board costs $9,734.
#11 Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University, a public, research university located in College Station, Texas, is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System.
Texas A&M is involved in a broad range of research with projects funded by agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. The university has formal research and exchange agreements with 100 institutions in 40 countries.
The university consistently ranks among the top 10 public universities every year in enrollment of National Merit Scholars. Texas A&M University has been ranked #23 among the top public schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Texas A&M has about 48,000 students and a 21-to-1 student/faculty ratio. The university has 10 academic colleges and offers over 120 undergraduate and 240 graduate degree programs.
The university has highly ranked graduate offerings via its Mays Business School, Dwight Look College of Engineering, and College of Education and Human Development.
Texas A&M is one of six United States Senior Military Colleges. Its Corp of Cadets is one of the largest uniformed student bodies outside the service academies.
Sixty-two percent of applicants are accepted. SAT test scores (25th/75th percentile) are as follows: Critical reading: 530/650; math: 570/670; and writing: 510/620. The university has a 92% freshman retention rate.
The Aggie Assurance helps students with a family income of less than $60,000. All eligible students receive scholarships and grants to cover the cost of tuition. Many of the students eligible for free tuition also receive other scholarships and grants to help cover the cost of required fees, housing, book,s and other educational expenses. The total cost for in-state students is $20,723 per year ($36,113 for out-of-state students).