By Kim Clark
December 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.

Name Rank City State Avg. freshman grant (2013-14) Cost of attendance (2015-16)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art* 8 New York NY $31,000 $62,710
Saint John’s University 25 Collegeville MN $21,849 $52,230
College of Saint Benedict 47 Saint Joseph MN $21,595 $53,475
Saint Vincent College 78 Latrobe PA $19,894 $46,135
Bethel University 82 Saint Paul MN $14,608 $47,586
Berea College 123 Berea KY $22,938 $34,380
Juniata College 129 Huntingdon PA $20,841 $53,590
Mount Mercy University 137 Cedar Rapids IA $14,564 $41,516
Messiah College 147 Mechanicsburg PA $14,639 $45,360
Cedar Crest College 160 Allentown PA $19,291 $48,715
Mount Saint Mary’s University 163 Los Angeles CA $13,948 $54,143
Mills College 175 Oakland CA $23,413 $60,992
Southwestern University 195 Georgetown TX $20,100 $50,840
Dordt College 205 Sioux Center IA $12,289 $41,200
Westminster College 206 New Wilmington PA $18,392 $46,725
Marquette University 213 Milwaukee WI $14,195 $51,726
Moravian College 217 Bethlehem PA $18,642 $53,616
Nebraska Wesleyan University 218 Lincoln NE $16,343 $42,640
Rockhurst University 221 Kansas City MO $22,558 $49,900
Calvin College 224 Grand Rapids MI $13,022 $44,050
Aurora University 234 Aurora IL $10,730 $35,004
Illinois Institute of Technology 235 Chicago IL $25,641 $60,424
Hamline University 238 Saint Paul MN $19,426 $49,302
Hanover College 240 Hanover IN $19,117 $47,666
Goshen College 241 Goshen IN $15,817 $43,700
Wells College 258 Aurora NY $24,631 $52,350
Houghton College 260 Houghton NY $14,210 $41,806
Illinois College 272 Jacksonville IL $17,472 $42,350
John Carroll University 280 University Heights OH $22,185 $52,100
Le Moyne College 291 Syracuse NY $17,642 $47,500
Simpson College 296 Indianola IA $18,103 $46,684
Agnes Scott College 299 Decatur GA $22,269 $50,386
Albion College 302 Albion MI $20,840 $52,085
Augustana College 306 Sioux Falls SD $16,609 $39,628
Presbyterian College 315 Clinton SC $23,008 $49,580
Wisconsin Lutheran College 316 Milwaukee WI $13,474 $39,136
Taylor University 323 Upland IN $12,259 $41,967
DeSales University 324 Center Valley PA $15,650 $47,978
Duquesne University 325 Pittsburgh PA $14,926 $48,796
Marian University 332 Fond Du Lac WI $11,227 $38,180
Saint Norbert College 334 De Pere WI $16,742 $45,081
Luther College 353 Decorah IA $20,970 $51,165
Concordia College at Moorhead 353 Moorhead MN $17,266 $46,054
Monmouth University 359 West Long Branch NJ $13,106 $50,250
Bay Path University 367 Longmeadow MA $18,750 $47,209
Bellarmine University 372 Louisville KY $20,963 $55,162
Loras College 376 Dubuque IA $16,882 $40,217
Washington & Jefferson College 387 Washington PA $21,360 $56,332
Central College 389 Pella IA $18,185 $47,878
The College of Saint Scholastica 389 Duluth MN $17,230 $46,036
Saint John Fisher College 401 Rochester NY $13,824 $44,650
Allegheny College 408 Meadville PA $21,942 $56,710
Nazareth College 408 Rochester NY $14,075 $47,063
Graceland University-Lamoni 413 Lamoni IA $13,902 $38,444
Transylvania University 425 Lexington KY $16,390 $47,030
St Bonaventure University 431 Saint Bonaventure NY $16,568 $44,717
Monmouth College 432 Monmouth IL $19,723 $45,210
Alma College 433 Alma MI $20,488 $48,268
The College of Idaho 445 Caldwell ID $14,177 $38,600
Baldwin Wallace University 450 Berea OH $15,488 $43,332
Piedmont College 454 Demorest GA $10,193 $35,330
Bluefield College 466 Bluefield VA $10,524 $36,882
Concordia University-Nebraska 475 Seward NE $14,370 $37,770
Xavier University 492 Cincinnati OH $17,663 $49,220
Saint Xavier University 496 Chicago IL $13,888 $44,706
Carlow University 500 Pittsburgh PA $12,934 $40,506
Franklin College 508 Franklin IN $12,942 $41,865
William Jewell College 510 Liberty MO $20,044 $45,610
Northwestern College 514 Orange City IA $15,344 $42,100
University of Northwestern-St Paul 526 Saint Paul MN $11,909 $41,120
Lycoming College 532 Williamsport PA $21,369 $49,856
Concordia University-Chicago 535 River Forest IL $14,054 $41,112
University of New England 551 Biddeford ME $16,286 $51,830
Lipscomb University 555 Nashville TN $12,635 $44,156
University of Mount Union 565 Alliance OH $11,663 $40,825
Hendrix College 597 Conway AR $26,629 $56,214
Ohio Wesleyan University 600 Delaware OH $24,413 $58,260
Centenary College 607 Hackettstown NJ $13,747 $46,899
Converse College 608 Spartanburg SC $16,551 $32,177
Bluffton University 616 Bluffton OH $16,454 $44,058
Carroll University 618 Waukesha WI $13,620 $42,657
Wheelock College 626 Boston MA $16,566 $50,866
Mount Mary University 628 Milwaukee WI $15,098 $41,520
University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne 634 Fort Wayne IN $10,784 $39,350
Bridgewater College 646 Bridgewater VA $19,341 $46,430
Berry College 656 Mount Berry GA $15,176 $46,384
Grand View University 661 Des Moines IA $11,364 $36,082
Stetson University 675 DeLand FL $23,648 $57,734
King’s College 677 Wilkes-Barre PA $14,643 $48,828
Guilford College 681 Greensboro NC $16,165 $48,000
Arcadia University 692 Glenside PA $21,861 $55,360

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

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