KEY POINTS

  • With more students struggling to afford college, here are the schools that are doling out the most aid to offset the cost, according to The Princeton Review.
  • Among the public schools at the top of the list, the average need-based scholarship was nearly $14,000 last year.
  • At private colleges, the average scholarship given to students with need was more than $50,000.    
  • The Coronavirus crisis has put college affordability into focus like never before.

This year, because of the pandemic, the price of higher education is an even bigger consideration among students and parents. However, at the same time, the cost a four-year college or university has never been higher.

Tuition and fees, alone, reached $10,560 for in-state students at four-year public colleges in the 2020-21 academic year, and $37,650 for students at four-year private institutions, according to the College Board, which tracks trends in college pricing and student aid.

“This year, due to Covid, students are making changes in the way they think about their college applications,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “They are much more sensitive around cost and staying closer to home.”

To that end, The Princeton Review ranked colleges by how much financial aid is awarded and how satisfied students are with their packages. After nearly 20 years, the college admissions company also changed its criteria to include more in-state public schools. The report is based on data from its surveys of administrators at 650 colleges in 2019 and 2020, as well as students attending the schools.

“Never cross an expensive school off your list based on sticker price alone,” Franek said. “Financial aid is available and can make many, many schools so affordable.”

For example, at the private colleges at the very top of Princeton Review’s 2021 list, the average scholarship award is just over $50,000, which brings the total out-of-pocket cost down to less than $20,000. At public schools, the out-of-pocket costs are even less.

“These schools are smoking deals for students and their families once you factor in need-based scholarships,” Franek said.

Top 5 public colleges for financial aid

1. University of Virginia
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Sticker price (in-state): $29.983
Average need-based scholarship: $24,776
Total out-of-pocket cost: $5,207

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Sticker price (in-state): $20,515
Average need-based scholarship: $18,410
Total out-of-pocket cost: $2,105

3. Florida State University
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Sticker price (in-state): $16,986
Average need-based scholarship: $13,033
Total out-of-pocket cost: $3,953

4. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sticker price (in-state): $27,984
Average need-based scholarship: $21,665
Total out-of-pocket cost: $6,319

5. City University of New York — Hunter College
Location: Manhattan, New York
Sticker price (in-state): $21,098
Average need-based scholarship: $8,142
Total out-of-pocket cost: $12,956

Top 5 private colleges for financial aid

1. Vassar College
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
Sticker price: $68,110
Average need-based scholarship: $49,190
Total out-of-pocket cost: $18,920

2. Princeton University
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Sticker price: $65,810
Average need-based scholarship: $53,572
Total out-of-pocket cost: $12,238

3. Yale University
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Sticker price: $72,100
Average need-based scholarship: $56,602
Total out-of-pocket cost: $15,498

4. Pomona College
Location: Pomona, California
Sticker price: $71,980
Average need-based scholarship: $55,082
Total out-of-pocket cost: $16,898 5. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Sticker price: $68,980
Average need-based scholarship: $52,242
Total out-of-pocket cost: $16,738

5. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Sticker price: $68,980
Average need-based scholarship: $52,242
Total out-of-pocket cost: $16,738

Coined from: Cnbc.com

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