Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

As universal and necessary as it is, a college education in the United States presently costs way more than it should. Every year, countless students get accepted to schools they have been dreaming of going to since eighth grade, only to realize that the only way to afford such an education is to graduate with a quarter million dollar debt. Far too often, students have to settle for their safety schools, not because they were rejected from their reach schools, but because their reach schools were too expensive.

To battle this issue, or attempt to (or appear to attempt to), prestigious tertiary educational institutions with endowments that could jointly resolve the national debt have developed need-blind admissions and promise to meet full demonstrated financial need. A great PR strategy, but for some people, demonstrated need as determined by the college’s financial aid office (by looking at properties and other assets that have essentially no hand in adding to the disposable family income on a yearly basis) is far too low.

So, in an attempt to raise awareness about schools that are more accommodating and generous with their determination of demonstrated need, here are five of my favorites.

Princeton University

Princeton enjoys the third largest endowment among all universities in the United States. Taking into account its small student body, Princeton has the largest endowment per capita, nearing two million dollars per student. Nearly half of all Princeton students are receiving some sort of aid from the college. Princeton also prides itself on one of the largest admittance rates of first generation college students, minority students, and students of lower socioeconomic status. They have grants and funds at each student’s fingertips as long as there is a willingness to fill out some applications. Princeton is just one of those schools that if you get into, you will most likely be able to afford it.

University of Notre Dame

While Notre Dame is widely known for its success in football, some students may not be aware that ND also boasts an endowment of billions. While endowment certainly isn’t the only factor in determining which schools are most generous in terms of financial aid, it plays a large part. If an institution has a larger endowment that consistently replenishes itself through alumni donations and other sources, it will be more inclined to be generous in giving money to those who need it to attend. Notre Dame’s admission is completely need-blind and demonstrated need is fully met without loans. Additionally, if you happen to be recruited by their football team or receive a likely letter from them, you can be almost certain that you won’t have to spend a dime that you’re not able to.

Barnard College

If you are male student, you can skip this section. Barnard is a women’s college! It also happens to have one of the lowest average costs after grants and is very closely affiliated with Columbia University in the City of New York. Barnard is technically a college of Columbia University, but at the same time, Barnard keeps an independent endowment and admissions office. In short, they have a complicated relationship. This small college, however, also meets full demonstrated financial need! Its admission rate is a bit higher than Columbia, but once you’re in Barnard, you can join any organization on Columbia’s campus as well register for any classes at Columbia. And conversely, Columbia students are welcome any time on Barnard’s campus.

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

If you have not heard of this institution, you’re not alone. While it boasts an endowment of “only” about 300 million dollars, its endowment per capita is competitive to Notre Dame and other such institutions because of its tiny student body of about 300 students. Due to their small size and relatively large endowment, this Engineering school is able to offer half of every student’s tuition. I think it’s quite a nice deal – if only I wanted to be an engineer…

Amherst College 

When one thinks of liberal arts colleges, Amherst is usually near the top of people’s lists. Because of their small size, their endowment per capita is also extremely high. Moreover, over half of all students at Amherst are on aid. Like most colleges in this article, they also meet full demonstrated need.

Education should not have such a high price tag. But until that’s resolved, find colleges like these.

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