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Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology Illinois Institute of Technology

99 Colleges That Give Every Freshman a Scholarship

Sep 14, 2015

This list is from 2015. Check here for the most up-to-date list of the colleges that give every freshman a scholarship.

Want to be absolutely sure you get a scholarship?

MONEY has identified 99 colleges that have generally made it a practice to give every single freshman a scholarship. They also have graduation rates that are at or above the median for their type (public or private), a key indicator of college quality.

Bear in mind that these schools are only a little more generous than most. A recent survey found that the average private college now awards scholarships to 89% of freshmen.

Of course, practices can change. A few colleges that used to offer lots of scholarships, such as Converse College in South Carolina, have tried lowering their tuition and reducing their aid budgets instead. That gives families less bragging rights but a clearer and earlier indication of how much they’ll actually have to pay.

Schools that have used the high-sticker-price/many-scholarship strategy, such as College of the Atlantic, are also tweaking their aid policies in other ways. College of the Atlantic doesn't guarantee every freshman a scholarship but promises a $1,800 (over four years) "learning enhancement fund" for all incoming freshmen to use for a research project. In 2013, the last year for which federal data are available, about 95% of the college's freshmen got scholarships averaging a little more than $31,000.

The reason most private colleges are continuing—and even ratcheting up—the practice of charging high sticker prices and awarding lots of scholarships is simple: It works.

Studies show that many students and parents are affected by a phenomenon sometimes called “the Chivas Regal effect” and interpret high prices as an indicator of quality. And other research shows that about a third of students can be swayed to choose one college over another by scholarships.

Smart college counselors advise students looking for schools that offer lots of scholarships to make sure they don't get so dazzled by a big scholarship that they ignore the true net price they'll have to pay: A $20,000 scholarship to a $60,000 college means you'll have to pay much more than you would if you got no scholarship at a $30,000 college. (You can compare average net prices of degrees, based on typical aid packages and the length of time it takes most students to graduate, for more than 700 colleges using the MONEY College Planner.)

In addition, students should seek the kind of aid that best fits their circumstances and that they are most likely to get renewed each year they are in school.

Merit aid. Aid awarded without regard to the student’s financial situation can sound attractive. But many scholarships have strings attached that mean you’ll lose the scholarship if your grades slip. The best kind of merit grants, such as those offered by Cooper Union, only require you to pass your courses to renew them each year.

Need-based aid. Schools that give big grants to meet your financial need typically require you to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year so they can adjust your grant according to their estimate of your current financial needs. That means you may get bigger grants if, for example, a younger sibling starts college while you’re still in school. But it also means the school could cut your grant if, say, a parent gets a raise. A few schools, such as Illinois Institute of Technology, however, promise they won’t cut either merit or need-based grants as long as you pass your classes.

CollegeStateMONEY's Best Colleges rankEstimated sticker price for 2015-16Average size of grant to freshmen (2012-13)*MONEY's estimated net price of a degree for fall 2015 freshmen**
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtNY9$63,075$38,575$113,376
College of the OzarksMO26$28,625$10,368$62,835
Berea CollegeKY48$33,496$21,474$49,343
Saint John's UniversityMN71$51,077$19,653$132,539
Webb InstituteNY85$64,912$41,500$93,164
John Carroll UniversityOH93$50,757$20,414$128,840
Saint Vincent CollegePA123$45,001$18,271$110,730
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyIN128$57,544$17,585$160,279
Xavier UniversityOH148$48,870$16,033$144,176
Mount St. Mary's CollegeCA155$53,613$13,815$184,781
Illinois Institute of TechnologyIL158$55,853$24,488$151,704
Doane CollegeNE172$40,289$12,853$114,530
College of Saint BenedictMN182$52,566$19,574$136,746
Elms CollegeMA185$46,865$16,906$145,009
Dominican UniversityIL210$41,949$14,545$123,732
Roberts Wesleyan CollegeNY217$42,907$14,630$132,375
Marquette UniversityWI222$51,131$13,996$166,572
Washington & Jefferson CollegePA229$54,389$18,749$147,308
College of the AtlanticME236 (tie)$52,513$24,883$89,139
Westminster CollegePA236 (tie)$46,057$17,856$124,018
Franklin CollegeIN236 (tie)$42,038$12,472$121,315
Agnes Scott CollegeGA246$49,749$20,754$114,022
Alfred UniversityNY268 (tie)$41,769$15,086$122,106
Wesleyan CollegeGA268 (tie)$33,919$9,590$103,006
Gwynedd Mercy UniversityPA268 (tie)$44,143$12,433$155,375
Messiah CollegePA283 (tie)$45,161$13,732$132,224
Eastern Nazarene CollegeMA283 (tie)$40,485$15,735$136,817
Baldwin Wallace UniversityOH295 (tie)$41,212$15,242$120,843
Le Moyne CollegeNY295 (tie)$47,129$15,285$146,653
Luther CollegeIA305 (tie)$50,973$20,203$138,047
Duquesne UniversityPA305 (tie)$46,812$14,437$141,913
Hanover CollegeIN318$46,393$16,874$101,746
Carlow UniversityPA328 (tie)$40,339$11,777$120,715
Neumann UniversityPA328 (tie)$41,382$8,294$108,901
Rockhurst UniversityMO333$47,498$21,124$115,055
Hamline UniversityMN359 (tie)$48,805$18,031$138,279
Augustana CollegeSD359 (tie)$40,174$16,147$110,253
Northwestern CollegeIA359 (tie)$41,188$14,395$108,084
Central CollegeIA367 (tie)$47,394$17,412$133,543
Andrews UniversityMI367 (tie)$37,341$10,613$130,937
University of DallasTX379$51,130$17,551$145,370
St. John Fisher CollegeNY389 (tie)$43,434$12,427$133,153
Cedar Crest CollegePA389 (tie)$47,326$17,547$170,475
Juniata CollegePA399 (tie)$51,771$19,204$127,718
Houghton CollegeNY399 (tie)$41,580$14,011$122,281
Concordia University, NebraskaNE399 (tie)$36,303$12,962$108,107
Malone UniversityOH399 (tie)$39,815$14,577$125,268
Wells CollegeNY411$52,333$23,598$109,875
Dordt CollegeIA436 (tie)$40,732$10,607$121,466
Cardinal Stritch UniversityWI436 (tie)$41,287$13,881$185,919
Bethel UniversityMN451 (tie)$46,548$13,416$153,461
Goshen CollegeIN451 (tie)$42,808$15,079$129,390
Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeWI451 (tie)$38,137$12,576$119,398
Union UniversityTN458$46,326$13,699$158,490
Monmouth CollegeIL466$44,222$19,113$106,004
Allegheny CollegePA473$54,711$21,128$131,422
Concordia CollegeMN484$45,202$16,109$125,727
St. Ambrose UniversityIA498 (tie)$42,125$14,537$124,840
Bay Path UniversityMA498 (tie)$46,763$15,933$174,242
Oklahoma Wesleyan UniversityOK498 (tie)$36,653$8,462$131,106
Capital UniversityOH509$46,606$18,283$126,845
Transylvania UniversityKY515 (tie)$45,862$15,087$129,682
William Jewell CollegeMO515 (tie)$45,472$18,558$115,662
Illinois CollegeIL515 (tie)$41,016$15,462$108,527
Bellarmine UniversityKY536 (tie)$55,161$20,064$160,087
Simpson CollegeIA536 (tie)$45,547$17,312$135,839
Eureka CollegeIL536 (tie)$32,408$6,927$120,077
Millsaps CollegeMS546$49,021$19,941$130,852
Millikin UniversityIL556$42,744$16,028$119,922
Concordia UniversityCA566$45,714$11,509$151,822
Nebraska Wesleyan UniversityNE573$41,465$11,697$141,726
Lipscomb UniversityTN577 (tie)$42,417$11,693$143,556
Randolph-Macon CollegeVA577 (tie)$50,180$17,468$127,936
Lycoming CollegePA594 (tie)$49,084$19,007$127,340
Laguna College of Art & DesignCA594 (tie)$45,303$7,036$168,110
Marywood UniversityPA598$48,841$15,760$145,737
Mount St. Joseph UniversityOH616$37,703$12,617$126,194
Centenary College of LouisianaLA625 (tie)$46,828$16,634$135,362
Nazareth College of RochesterNY625 (tie)$46,265$12,652$145,612
Hollins UniversityVA633 (tie)$50,590$21,587$142,095
Morningside CollegeIA633 (tie)$40,210$13,371$112,075
Hartwick CollegeNY642$53,465$19,916$124,089
Stephens CollegeMO655 (tie)$44,506$14,686$137,789
Wheelock CollegeMA655 (tie)$50,229$13,896$163,992
Benedictine CollegeKS659$39,683$12,793$117,116
Stetson UniversityFL664$56,432$23,408$138,008
Mercyhurst UniversityPA671 (tie)$47,060$19,444$119,727
Seton Hill UniversityPA671 (tie)$46,094$15,368$86,999
King's CollegePA673$47,710$13,814$149,057
Meredith CollegeNC676$44,018$11,921$145,893
Bluffton UniversityOH681$43,945$15,760$129,075
Spring Arbor UniversityMI685$35,745$11,597$133,334
Hendrix CollegeAR694 (tie)$55,039$24,195$118,776
Alma CollegeMI694 (tie)$46,560$19,868$115,848
University of New EnglandME707$52,764$16,406$147,752
Northland CollegeWI710$43,046$18,222$106,979
Berry CollegeGA717 (tie)$45,991$13,955$124,289
Barton CollegeNC717 (tie)$41,167$10,374$135,012
Arcadia UniversityPA723$54,594$19,883$150,351

* Latest year for which data are available from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

** MONEY's estimated cost of degree is calculated by multiplying the estimated average net price for all undergraduates by the average time it takes students at that school to graduate, which is typically more than four years. It also includes an inflation factor.

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