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31 Potential Colleges for Students with a Full-Pay Hook

Money representing colleges for full pay studentsFamilies that can’t afford to pay the sticker-price for private colleges need to do two things. The first is identify which schools are more likely to provide need or merit aid. The second is avoid those that are less likely to do so. This means steering clear of “dream” schools that may rank in terms of prestige but subsequently aren’t as generous with financial aid as some of their peers.

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The list below shows 31 private colleges and universities that admit less than half of all applicants and where less than half of freshman receive grants from the institution according to the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System in the DIY College Search Spreadsheet. Based on an average endowment per student of $290,000 (the average for private colleges is just over $76,000), it doesn’t look like most of these schools are hurting for money.

They Get to Define “Need”

Most of the schools claim to meet 100% of demonstrated need. According to CollegeData.com, 28 report meeting 91% or more of need. However, given that the average percentage of freshman receiving Pell Grants is less than 15%, you would expect nothing less. Yet there is evidence that “less” might actually be the case since at 16 of the colleges, the average net price for students with incomes of less than $30,000 is over $8,000*. Remember, when a school claims to meet 100% of financial need, they get to count subsidized loans as part of meeting need.

Now it could be that they just don’t get as many students with demonstrated financial need as other institutions. Or it could be that these are schools where being a full-paying student is its own admissions “hook.” After all, based on the Average Net Price for Families with income over $110,000, these schools aren’t very generous with their merit aid either.

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Opportunities for Merit Aid are Slim

Of the 27 schools that post their Common Data Sets, ten did not award any merit aid to students without need. At eleven of the schools, fewer than 10 percent of students without need received merit aid. Only two colleges, Scripps and Spelman, awarded merit aid to more than 30% of students without any need. I suspect the ones that didn’t report the data are probably not giving away significant merit aid.

In general, these colleges and universities don’t seem particularly interested in attracting students with substantial need to their campus. Given that all but four are ranked in the top 50 of US News Best National College rankings, they don’t have any shortage of well-qualified applicants applying. And students should expect to pay for the privilege of applying, 17 have application fees of $70 or more, with five over $80. Only three were listed under $50.

Of course, all of this data doesn’t necessarily mean that a student with a full-pay hook is more likely to be admitted at these institutions. But you can’t help but think it might be a necessary requirement to actually attend.

If any of these colleges appeal to you, one thing you can do is to explore similar alternatives. You can go to www.collegeresults.org, enter the college in the search field, and then click on the similar colleges tab. You’ll probably need to expand the list to at least 25 colleges to find other possibilities that are likely to provide more financial assistance.

Will these schools rank as high in the US News and World Report College Rankings? No.
The question is where do they rank in your personal college rankings?

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31 Possible Colleges for Full-Pay Students

Name State Full-time Under-grads 4 yr Grad Rate % Admitted % Freshman Receiving Pell Grants % Freshman Receiving Institutional Grants Avg Net Price After Gift Aid (2013-2014) Avg Net Price Family Income $0-$30,000 Avg Net Price Family Income over $110,000 Endowment per Student
Claremont McKenna College CA 1,298 80 11 16 45 $23,982 $9,225 $32,715 $518,912
Pitzer College CA 1,039 80 13 12 35 $26,082 $12,389 $44,731 $129,690
Colorado College CO 2,036 81 18 11 47 $24,141 $13,459 $40,329
Trinity College CT 2,207 79 33 10 42 $25,120 $11,030 $40,993 $232,728
Wesleyan University CT 2,914 87 24 15 38 $24,156 $6,009 $45,187 $243,205
Georgetown University DC 7,226 91 17 13 41 $25,786 $9,638 $43,481 $95,172
Emory University GA 7,732 84 27 20 49 $28,203 $15,535 $46,798 $454,364
Bates College ME 1,773 83 25 13 48 $22,062 $7,426 $39,604 $150,623
Bowdoin College ME 1,802 86 15 14 48 $22,289 $5,925 $36,770 $672,955
Colby College ME 1,847 85 28 10 42 $18,477 $1,710 $35,722 $363,232
Johns Hopkins University MD 6,049 87 16 13 48 $25,207 $10,049 $42,804 $159,663
Babson College MA 2,107 84 26 16 48 $27,437 $19,388 $42,862 $100,367
Boston College MA 9,526 88 34 12 42 $26,335 $15,714 $46,144 $163,826
Tufts University MA 5,127 88 17 11 37 $26,103 $10,574 $45,217 $143,467
Williams College MA 2,034 88 19 17 49 $20,315 $3,127 $38,936 $1,000,538
Dartmouth College NH 4,228 88 12 14 47 $21,277 $7,529 $42,042 $683,841
Barnard College NY 2,537 82 24 21 45 $21,791 $9,231 $41,837 $112,955
Colgate University NY 2,863 90 26 10 42 $21,649 $12,034 $38,257 $300,237
Columbia University in the City of New York NY 7,496 88 7 16 46 $20,838 $9,142 $39,050 $346,848
Cornell University NY 14,269 87 14 15 47 $28,537 $11,665 $44,820 $209,512
Skidmore College NY 2,609 85 37 14 43 $24,316 $11,354 $44,377 $119,477
Duke University NC 6,601 87 11 13 44 $21,764 $8,777 $41,893 $388,472
Wake Forest University NC 4,804 83 34 11 40 $25,826 $13,603 $47,174 $150,383
Kenyon College OH 1,650 89 25 8 44 $26,734 $2,813 $45,263 $113,092
Reed College OR 1,339 67 39 20 49 $18,671 $9,423 $42,621 $380,946
Lehigh University PA 4,984 76 34 14 49 $27,848 $15,155 $43,618 $182,654
Brown University RI 6,255 85 9 19 46 $21,193 $3,186 $42,007 $335,580
Rhode Island School of Design RI 2,014 69 33 19 36 $35,058 $27,160 $50,402 $132,316
Middlebury College VT 2,492 89 17 16 45 $20,903 $4,904 $36,865 $325,661
Washington and Lee University VA 1,882 85 19 10 49 $20,700 $353 $38,014 $674,543

*There are significant limitations with the average net price by income data. First, remember that the definition is based only on those students who receive some sort of federal aid, including student loans. Students who receive only institutional aid wouldn’t be included in these numbers. However, we know that these schools don’t award much merit aid to student without need. Therefore, these averages are likely at the lower end of what most families in the highest income category could expect to pay.

31 Potential Colleges for Students with a Full-Pay Hook

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