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Finding Financially Friendly Colleges

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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 Search 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.

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