50-50 Highlights: 27 Private Colleges to Target for Financial Aid Opportunities

Aiming arrow to represent targeting best colleges for financial aidI’ve talked about colleges most likely to provide merit aid before. In this post I’m going to focus just on 50-50 schools and consider all financial indicators. For example, in previous lists I didn’t take into consideration PLUS loans. I also limited schools by test scores which I don’t do in this list.

Indicators of Financial Friendliness

I created this list using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the following criteria:

  • 85% or more of freshman receive institutional aid
  • Average institutional aid award was 35% or greater of the total cost
  • Fewer than 10% of freshman had non-federal loans
  • Fewer than 15% PLUS Loans
  • The average net price is less than $30,000
  • The endowment per student is $50,000 or greater

After apply these criteria I was left with 28 colleges. I then looked up some financial aid data only available through the Common Data Set. I dropped one school because it met on average less than 80% for freshman need and had less than 20% of non-need freshman receiving awards. In other words, it wasn’t particularly good for need-based or merit-based aid.

Need-based or Merit-based

Of the 27 colleges left, 6 meet 85% or less of average need for freshman (not available for 3). Loyola University New Orleans is probably not very friendly for financial aid since it only meets 80% of freshman need and it dropped to 73% for all undergraduates.

Eight colleges met 90% or more of freshman need. None had a dramatic drop compared to need met among all undergraduates.

Five of the schools had less than 15% of freshman without need receiving merit awards. However, 14 had 20% or more of non-need freshman receiving merit awards with five of those having over 30%.

Other Considerations

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that the majority of the colleges are in the south or the mid-west. Only three are in the Northeast or the West Coast. All but four of the schools are Liberal Arts Colleges.

Fourteen of schools didn’t list any application fees in the IPEDS data. Eight reported fees of $40 or more. Five of the schools require the PROFILE for financial aid and two of those require the non-custodial form as well.

Even though I didn’t use any test score requirements, there isn’t a shortage of good test takers attending these schools. Of the schools reporting test scores to IPEDS, the 75th% ACT scores ranged from 24 to 32. Over two-thirds of the colleges, 22, had 75th% ACT Composite scores in the 90th percentile or higher and 13 were in the 95th% or higher.

However, five of the colleges do not require the SAT or ACT. And at another seven it was only recommended.

The following list displays all schools that met the criteria based on IPEDS data available as of April 2017. All of the IPEDS data is available in the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet.

Best 50-50 Private Colleges to Target for Financial Aid




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