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161312_COL_FRESHMANSCHOLAR
Coutesy of Bethel University

91 Great Colleges That Give Every Freshman a Scholarship

Dec 13, 2016

One of the surest ways to win a scholarship is also one of the easiest: Apply to a college that awards money to every student that attends.

Of course, your odds are high of winning a scholarship at most private colleges. The typical private school awards scholarships to 88% of freshmen. But be wary: Some of those are low-quality schools that use partial scholarships to lure students. And research has found nearly 40% of students are so dazzled by a prestigious-sounding scholarship that they’ll choose it even when they get in to higher-quality schools that are likely to be less costly over the long term -- because of speedier graduation rates, for instance, or ultimate earning power.

So MONEY has scoured the data to find 91 colleges that award every freshman a scholarship and meet at least basic standards of quality -- a good graduation rate, and financial stability. (See the full list below.)

Even at a good school offering a big scholarship, counselors and financial advisors recommend you ask about these five possible gotchas before you commit:

  • Admissions odds: Many of the highest-ranked and most generous colleges on the following list, such as Cooper Union and Berea, are so selective that they can be long shots even for good students. There are also several high-scholarship, high-quality schools with more forgiving acceptance rates, however. The Minnesota liberal arts campuses of Saint John's University (for men) and the College of Saint Benedict (for women), for example, accept at least 79% of their applicants.
  • Poor fit: One of the most expensive college decisions you can make is to drop out, because college dropouts tend to make an average of $400 a week less than do graduates. So make sure the school will provide the activities, courses and guidance to keep students involved and on the path to graduation -- preferably in four years. To check a school’s track record, enter the school’s name at CollegeResults.org. and click on the “Similar Colleges” tab; you can choose to see graduation rates broken down by race and gender.
  • Net price: Do not get distracted by the scholarship size itself. Some colleges offer big scholarships but such high tuition that the net cost is still unaffordable, notes Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution. To get a true comparison, subtract each school’s scholarship from the total cost of attendance to get its net price. She offers a sample comparison: The College of Idaho has a comparatively low sticker price (for a private college) of about $42,000 this year, so its typical scholarship (roughly $14,000 in recent years) brings the net cost down to about $28,000. On the other hand, Mills College typically offers grants of almost $24,000 a year -- but with a sticker price of more than $62,000, the typical student’s net price is likely to be closer to $38,000.
  • Tricky renewals: Most scholarships are awarded for only one year, notes Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Cappex.com, and let students renew each year only if they meet certain requirements -- whether family financial situation or academic achievement. Ask about any scholarship scholarship's renewal terms, Kantrowitz says, and be realistic about the prospects of any scholarship requiring more than a 3.0 -- the average freshman’s GPA typically drops by at least half a grade from their high school level. (In Tennessee, where students have to achieve a 3.0 to renew the state’s Hope Scholarship, about half of students lose their scholarship because of grades.)
  • Inflation hits: While need-based awards generally rise with tuition, merit awards are usually fixed. So although a $10,000 grant, say, makes a nice dent in the typical private school tuition of about $35,000, even just 3% inflation would raise the cost of tuition to more than $38,000 by senior year -- essentially reducing the value of the scholarship.

Here are the 91 schools -- in order of their MONEY Best Colleges ranking -- that have a history of offering scholarships to all freshmen.

NameRankCityStateAvg. freshman grant (2013-14)Cost of attendance (2015-16)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art*8New YorkNY$31,000$62,710
Saint John's University25CollegevilleMN$21,849$52,230
College of Saint Benedict47Saint JosephMN$21,595$53,475
Saint Vincent College78LatrobePA$19,894$46,135
Bethel University82Saint PaulMN$14,608$47,586
Berea College123BereaKY$22,938$34,380
Juniata College129HuntingdonPA$20,841$53,590
Mount Mercy University137Cedar RapidsIA$14,564$41,516
Messiah College147MechanicsburgPA$14,639$45,360
Cedar Crest College160AllentownPA$19,291$48,715
Mount Saint Mary's University163Los AngelesCA$13,948$54,143
Mills College175OaklandCA$23,413$60,992
Southwestern University195GeorgetownTX$20,100$50,840
Dordt College205Sioux CenterIA$12,289$41,200
Westminster College206New WilmingtonPA$18,392$46,725
Marquette University213MilwaukeeWI$14,195$51,726
Moravian College217BethlehemPA$18,642$53,616
Nebraska Wesleyan University218LincolnNE$16,343$42,640
Rockhurst University221Kansas CityMO$22,558$49,900
Calvin College224Grand RapidsMI$13,022$44,050
Aurora University234AuroraIL$10,730$35,004
Illinois Institute of Technology235ChicagoIL$25,641$60,424
Hamline University238Saint PaulMN$19,426$49,302
Hanover College240HanoverIN$19,117$47,666
Goshen College241GoshenIN$15,817$43,700
Wells College258AuroraNY$24,631$52,350
Houghton College260HoughtonNY$14,210$41,806
Illinois College272JacksonvilleIL$17,472$42,350
John Carroll University280University HeightsOH$22,185$52,100
Le Moyne College291SyracuseNY$17,642$47,500
Simpson College296IndianolaIA$18,103$46,684
Agnes Scott College299DecaturGA$22,269$50,386
Albion College302AlbionMI$20,840$52,085
Augustana College306Sioux FallsSD$16,609$39,628
Presbyterian College315ClintonSC$23,008$49,580
Wisconsin Lutheran College316MilwaukeeWI$13,474$39,136
Taylor University323UplandIN$12,259$41,967
DeSales University324Center ValleyPA$15,650$47,978
Duquesne University325PittsburghPA$14,926$48,796
Marian University332Fond Du LacWI$11,227$38,180
Saint Norbert College334De PereWI$16,742$45,081
Luther College353DecorahIA$20,970$51,165
Concordia College at Moorhead353MoorheadMN$17,266$46,054
Monmouth University359West Long BranchNJ$13,106$50,250
Bay Path University367LongmeadowMA$18,750$47,209
Bellarmine University372LouisvilleKY$20,963$55,162
Loras College376DubuqueIA$16,882$40,217
Washington & Jefferson College387WashingtonPA$21,360$56,332
Central College389PellaIA$18,185$47,878
The College of Saint Scholastica389DuluthMN$17,230$46,036
Saint John Fisher College401RochesterNY$13,824$44,650
Allegheny College408MeadvillePA$21,942$56,710
Nazareth College408RochesterNY$14,075$47,063
Graceland University-Lamoni413LamoniIA$13,902$38,444
Transylvania University425LexingtonKY$16,390$47,030
St Bonaventure University431Saint BonaventureNY$16,568$44,717
Monmouth College432MonmouthIL$19,723$45,210
Alma College433AlmaMI$20,488$48,268
The College of Idaho445CaldwellID$14,177$38,600
Baldwin Wallace University450BereaOH$15,488$43,332
Piedmont College454DemorestGA$10,193$35,330
Bluefield College466BluefieldVA$10,524$36,882
Concordia University-Nebraska475SewardNE$14,370$37,770
Xavier University492CincinnatiOH$17,663$49,220
Saint Xavier University496ChicagoIL$13,888$44,706
Carlow University500PittsburghPA$12,934$40,506
Franklin College508FranklinIN$12,942$41,865
William Jewell College510LibertyMO$20,044$45,610
Northwestern College514Orange CityIA$15,344$42,100
University of Northwestern-St Paul526Saint PaulMN$11,909$41,120
Lycoming College532WilliamsportPA$21,369$49,856
Concordia University-Chicago535River ForestIL$14,054$41,112
University of New England551BiddefordME$16,286$51,830
Lipscomb University555NashvilleTN$12,635$44,156
University of Mount Union565AllianceOH$11,663$40,825
Hendrix College597ConwayAR$26,629$56,214
Ohio Wesleyan University600DelawareOH$24,413$58,260
Centenary College607HackettstownNJ$13,747$46,899
Converse College608SpartanburgSC$16,551$32,177
Bluffton University616BlufftonOH$16,454$44,058
Carroll University618WaukeshaWI$13,620$42,657
Wheelock College626BostonMA$16,566$50,866
Mount Mary University628MilwaukeeWI$15,098$41,520
University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne634Fort WayneIN$10,784$39,350
Bridgewater College646BridgewaterVA$19,341$46,430
Berry College656Mount BerryGA$15,176$46,384
Grand View University661Des MoinesIA$11,364$36,082
Stetson University675DeLandFL$23,648$57,734
King's College677Wilkes-BarrePA$14,643$48,828
Guilford College681GreensboroNC$16,165$48,000
Arcadia University692GlensidePA$21,861$55,360

*Cooper Union scholarship size data is for 2016-17.

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