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50-50 Highlights: 29 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.

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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 $32,000
  • The endowment per student is $50,000 or greater

After applying these criteria to 486 50-50 colleges, I was left with 29.

Need-based or Merit-based

According to the Common Data Set, 11 of the 29 meet 85% or less of average need for freshman (not available for 2). Three colleges, Samford, John Brown, and Transylvania only met 80 or less of demonstrated freshman need and these percentages fell for all undergraduates. Chances are these schools aren’t offering great need-based aid. Eleven colleges met 90% or more of freshman need. None had a dramatic drop compared to need met among all undergraduates.

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Common Data Set information also shows that at 20 of the schools, at least 90% of students without need received merit aid. There were four where the average was less than 80% and the lowest was only 65% which is still very good. However, keep in mind these are self-reported numbers through the Common Data Set and they don’t always add up.

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 4 are in the Northeast or the West Coast. All but 9 of the schools are Liberal Arts Colleges. As usual with Liberal Arts Colleges, most are small. Only four had more than 3,000 full-time undergraduates.

Fourteen of schools didn’t list any application fees in the IPEDS data. 10 reported fees of $40 or more. Four 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 27 to 34. Two-thirds of the colleges, 20, had 75th% ACT Composite scores in the 90th percentile or higher and 12 were in the 95th% or higher. Seven of the colleges do not require the SAT or ACT and at another five it was only recommended.

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The following list displays all schools that met the criteria based on IPEDS data available as of January 2019. All of the IPEDS data is available in the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet.

Best 50-50 Private Colleges to Target for Financial Aid

Name Type State % Freshman Receiving Institutional Grants (16-17) Avg Amount of Institutional Grants for Freshman (16-17) Avg Net Price After Gift Aid (2016-2017) Total price for in-state students 2017-18 Full-time Under-grads 4 yr Grad Rate % Admitted SAT/ACT Required SAT (1600) 75th Percentile ACT 75th Percentile
Samford University Private AL 97 $14,174 $30,017 $46,474 3,266 65 83 Required 1280 29
Hendrix College Private AR 100 $32,470 $22,089 $60,096 1,228 67 80 Required 1410 31
John Brown University Private AR 97 $13,756 $22,338 $38,834 1,489 62 76 Required 1310 29
Ouachita Baptist University Private AR 97 $15,254 $17,934 $37,600 1,500 54 71 Required 1260 28
Mills College Private CA 100 $29,989 $26,086 $63,767 739 63 87 Neither req/rec 1260 29
Knox College Private IL 97 $26,764 $25,136 $56,554 1,334 72 72 Recommended 1370 30
Lake Forest College Private IL 98 $28,008 $25,646 $58,675 1,487 66 53 Recommended 29
DePauw University Private IN 99 $30,026 $29,318 $62,567 2,140 76 67 Required 1330 29
Earlham College Private IN 100 $34,679 $20,721 $58,670 1,051 58 52 Consid/not req 1400 30
Goshen College Private IN 100 $19,815 $19,446 $46,500 816 62 64 Required 1233 28
Saint Mary’s College Private IN 100 $24,263 $26,664 $55,200 1,486 73 78 Required 1250 29
Wabash College Private IN 99 $26,225 $24,603 $54,600 864 72 63 Required 1280 28
Centre College Private KY 96 $23,822 $26,249 $53,910 1,449 80 76 Required 1410 31
Transylvania University Private KY 100 $17,650 $26,454 $50,550 963 69 95 Recommended 1360 30
Goucher College Private MD 100 $26,306 $29,716 $59,810 1,447 56 79 Recommended 1260 29
Hope College Private MI 93 $14,197 $27,795 $45,410 3,019 67 74 Required 1320 29
Kalamazoo College Private MI 97 $27,306 $28,057 $59,267 1,427 82 73 Consid/not req 1380 30
Saint Louis University Private MO 92 $22,941 $31,718 $57,214 6,625 68 64 Required 1390 31
Salem College Private NC 99 $20,924 $18,218 $46,080 673 56 57 Required 1300 29
Creighton University Private NE 99 $19,577 $31,481 $53,452 4,011 69 72 Required 1290 30
Drew University Private NJ 97 $31,379 $28,876 $66,486 1,507 59 63 Recommended 1300 28
Yeshiva University Private NY 85 $25,306 $31,873 $60,525 2,646 76 63 Required 1420 29
The College of Wooster Private OH 99 $29,838 $28,928 $61,900 1,962 72 56 Required 1380 30
Oklahoma Baptist University Private OK 100 $16,433 $19,008 $39,840 1,835 52 65 Required 1150 26
Wofford College Private SC 91 $23,995 $27,101 $57,749 1,663 77 69 Consid/not req 1310 30
Rhodes College Private TN 94 $28,171 $29,144 $61,538 1,979 79 51 Required 1410 32
Whitworth University Private WA 98 $23,129 $29,281 $57,824 2,211 65 89 Consid/not req 1310 29
Beloit College Private WI 98 $29,492 $26,976 $59,442 1,346 75 54 Consid/not req
Lawrence University Private WI 99 $27,046 $28,180 $58,458 1,434 65 61 Consid/not req 1460 32

50-50 Highlights: 29 Private Colleges to Target for Financial Aid Opportunities