What if you could get into the prestigious school of your dreams without having to take out loans to pay for it?
At six of the best-known campuses in the U.S., that’s a reality.
Need-blind admissions benefits students
Believe it or not, when you apply for college, most admissions officers hold your application in one hand — and your FAFSA in the other.
After all, your FAFSA — or Free Application for Federal Student Aid — shows how much money your family could reasonably put toward the cost of your attendance, an amount officially designated as your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC).
With this information handy, schools inevitably accept or deny some applicants based partly on how those students would affect the institution’s bottom line.
At a need-blind school with a healthy endowment, however, the admissions department doesn’t consider your family’s financials at all. Their decision on whether to accept you is made regardless of your FAFSA and EFC.
Once you’re “in,” your level of need come back into play — and it could help you cover the cost of attendance.
6 prestigious schools with need-blind admissions — and need-based financial aid
Keep in mind that “need” is the key word here. You probably won’t receive a full ride to a top school if your FAFSA does in fact pump out a high EFC.
That’s where the following six schools stand out from other colleges with generous aid packages. They not only disregard your family’s finances when evaluating your application — they’ll also get you the funding you need so you won’t have to borrow as much, or at all.
1. Amherst College
Amherst College’s price tag runs about $75,000 when including non-academic expenses like housing and transportation.
But with some students from lower-income backgrounds receiving free or almost-free rides, the average Amherst student reeled in $53,577 of financial aid during the 2017-2018 school year.
The school has wholly replaced loans with scholarships and grants, as well as six to eight hours of weekly employment on or off campus.
If you’re eyeing this private liberal arts college, you can even skip the college’s application fees if you’re a first-generation student or have an annual household income of less than $65,000.
2. Harvard University
After admitting the best applicants regardless of their financial need, Harvard University considers need before merit when dispensing aid.
The Ivy League school employs its nearly $40 billion endowment proportionally for students based on their family’s income level:
|Less than $65,000||0%|
|Between $65,000 and $150,000||0% to 10% of their income|
|$150,000 or higher||10% or more of their income|
With its “no loans required” declaration, a typical financial aid package to attend Harvard, for example, includes a parent’s help, scholarships and student employment.
3. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins joined the exclusive need-blind, no-loans club, thanks to alumnus and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion donation in November 2018.
The university has since said it will become “a loan-free institution” by the fall of 2019, replacing debt with scholarships financed by Bloomberg’s gift.
As a result, America’s self-proclaimed “first research university” has suddenly become much more affordable. The annual cost of tuition alone — ignoring all the other costs of college — hovers around $50,000.
Unlike other schools on this list, however, Johns Hopkins does fall short of “need-blindness” for international students. Instead, it notes that it is “need-aware” for this group of applicants, taking finances into account when deciding whether to admit non-residents.
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This world-renowned university is similarly expensive, with a sticker price of $70,240 per year when including room, board and other school costs.
Still, with a need-blind admission process and need-based financial aid program, MIT makes it possible for any top student to enroll and leave without a burdensome student debt.
In 2017, 72% of MIT undergrads left school debt-free. But that’s where the tech giant of a school falls a bit short of its peers mentioned in this article: Its need-based aid options span scholarships, grants and job opportunities — but also loans.
5. Princeton University
You don’t have to worry that your grade point average is good enough to get into Princeton — but not good enough to receive financial aid. Your access to grants will depend on your gross family income, as the school doesn’t offer merit-based assistance.
It has also set a clear threshold for Class of 2022 students: If your household earns less than $160,000 annually, you’ll typically pay no tuition.
With an endowment approaching $25 billion, you can also expect Princeton’s generous policies to hold steady until your children — and perhaps grandchildren — apply for college too.
6. Yale University
Like Amherst and Johns Hopkins, Yale goes the distance, seeking to guarantee a loan-free college experience.
Plus, it doesn’t expect parents earning less than $65,000 in combined income to contribute a cent toward their student’s cost of attendance.
Be prepared for work to be a part of your financial aid package, however. The university reports that students earn at least $12.50 per hour from their part-time work, which is above the $10.10 minimum wage (as of the end of 2018) in Connecticut, where Yale is located.
The university also utilizes governmental programs, including work-study, the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and state grants, before dipping into school resources.
Avoid the nightmare costs of your dream school
If you (or your child) has long desired to attend one of the country’s top universities, it might now seem like a reachable goal. This exclusive list of six universities that pair need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid are joined by dozens of other programs that offer one feature or the other.
No matter which schools you’re considering, confirm your eligibility for need-based aid using net price calculators. Try searching online for “[school name] net price calculator,” as all colleges and universities are required by the federal government to host the calculator on their websites. Many top schools also provide quote-like estimates via MyinTuition.
After entering basic personal and financial information, you’ll receive the projected cost of attendance. Then it’s it up to you to decide if the accompanying aid package is reasonable enough to enroll.
And if you don’t have your heart set on a school with a prestigious reputation, consider other colleges that’ll help you avoid debt.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|