Finding Financially Friendly Colleges - COLLEGEdata - Explore Colleges
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Finding Financially Friendly Colleges

Want to apply to schools likely to be affordable? Here's how to identify these "financially friendly" colleges.

The most generous college is not necessarily the one with the biggest financial aid package. It's the one that most reduces your college cost. Fortunately, on CollegeData you can include financial generosity as a factor in your college search.

Searching for Financially Friendly Colleges on CollegeData

Use these Financial Friendliness search options on College Match to find colleges likely to offer cost-reducing aid packages.

  • Financial Need Met. Search based on the average percent of financial need met for freshmen.
  • Student Debt. Search based on the average debt burden of graduating seniors.
  • Merit Aid Awarded. Search based on the percentage of freshmen (with and without financial need) who receive merit aid.

The question mark icon next to each search option reveals the averages for each category. This will help you select a search range that is average or above.

Financial Friendliness Clues in College Profiles on CollegeData

Every College Profile on CollegeData displays valuable information about financial aid offered to students. Look up these factors on the Money Matters tab:

  1. Need met. Note the percentage of students who get their financial need fully met.
  2. Gift aid. See the percentage of students who receive need-based gift aid and merit-based gift aid, and how much.
  3. Self-help aid. See the percentage of students who receive loans and work-study awards and the average amounts of that aid.
  4. Debt. Note the average indebtedness of recent graduates.
  5. Awards. See the number and types of non-need awards.
  6. Time to graduate. Look for colleges with high four-year graduation rates. Nothing increases college cost more than needing an extra year or more to graduate.
  7. Data for freshmen vs. data for all undergraduates. Compare the data for both groups. Some colleges reduce gift aid after freshman year.

Be sure to review the top GPA and test scores of the most recent freshman class. The closer your stats are to theirs, the more likely you are to get generous aid.

Financial Friendliness Clues on the College's Website

Search the college's website to uncover other factors that can impact aid packages.

  1. Outside scholarship policy. Colleges require you to report any scholarships or grants you receive from sources other than the college. The college will adjust your aid package according to its policy. Ideally they will reduce unmet need and loans first, but they may reduce gift aid, or a combination of both.
  2. Endowment level. Colleges with strong endowments may be more likely to offer generous "institutional aid," meaning aid that comes from their own resources.
  3. Loan limit policy. Some colleges limit or eliminate student loans. If you don't see this information on the college website, check with The Project on Student Debt to see a list of colleges that limit or eliminate loans.

What's Next?

  • Use College Match to search for colleges based on their "financial friendliness" and to see cost-related data in their Profiles.
  • To see your potential out-of-pocket cost to attend a college, use the Net Price Calculator.
  • To learn more about financial aid, see What Is Financial Aid?
  • It helps to plan ahead should you receive a disappointing aid package from a college you want to attend. See I'd Like More Financial Aid, Please to learn about the appeal process.
For Students Age 18 and Older

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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

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Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.