These 10 colleges are giving out the most financial aid this year

At the country’s top colleges, the most recent application season was the most competitive on record, but getting accepted at several schools may have been the easy part for students.

Now they now have less than one week to decide on which school they’ll attend ahead of National Decision Day on May 1, the deadline for high school seniors to finalize a plan for next year. 

For many, the biggest problem remains how they will pay for their degree.

Including room and board, books and other expenses, families with students in four-year private colleges spend about $55,800 annually; at four-year public colleges, it is more than $27,300, according to the College Board.

A majority of college-bound students and their parents say affordability and dealing with the debt burden that often goes hand-in-hand with a college diploma is their top concern, according to The Princeton Review’s 2022 College Hopes & Worries survey.

A whopping 98% of families said financial aid would be necessary to cover the cost and 80% said it was “extremely” or “very” necessary, The Princeton Review found.

“Just the thought of navigating the financial aid is scary to the average student and parent,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “But the good news is that there is a great deal of aid out there, and many schools are incredibly generous.”

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To that end, The Princeton Review ranked colleges by how much financial aid is awarded and how satisfied students are with their packages. The report is based on data from its surveys of administrators at 650 colleges in 2020 and 2021, as well as students attending the schools.

When it comes to giving out scholarships and grants, which never have to be repaid, private schools typically have more money to spend, Franek said. “They are able to use their financial wherewithal to allow students to attend college without it being a significant financial burden.”

At the private colleges at the very top of Princeton Review’s 2022 ranking, the average scholarship award is just over $57,000.

“These schools are doing the near impossible, which is bringing the cost down below what a student can expect to pay for one year of public college,” Franek said.

Top 5 private colleges for financial aid

Blair Hall at Princeton University

Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

1. Princeton University
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Sticker price: $74,190
Average need-based scholarship: $61,928
Total out-of-pocket cost: $12,262

2. Yale University
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Sticker price: $77,750
Average need-based scholarship: $61,067
Total out-of-pocket cost: $16,683

3. Pomona College
Location: Pomona, California
Sticker price: $71,980
Average need-based scholarship: $55,485
Total out-of-pocket cost: $16,495

4. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Sticker price: $68,980
Average need-based scholarship: $54,417
Total out-of-pocket cost: $14,563

5. Vassar College
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
Sticker price: $75,920
Average need-based scholarship: $53,699
Total out-of-pocket cost: $22,221

Top 5 public colleges for financial aid

University of Virginia

Source: Dan Addison | UVA University Communications

1. University of Virginia
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Sticker price (in-state): $31,228
Average need-based scholarship: $25,509
Total out-of-pocket cost: $5,719

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Sticker price (in-state): $21,252
Average need-based scholarship: $16,295
Total out-of-pocket cost: $4,957

3. Florida State University
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Sticker price (in-state): $17,989
Average need-based scholarship:  $11,170
Total out-of-pocket cost: $6,819

4. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sticker price (in-state): $29,785
Average need-based scholarship: $23,137
Total out-of-pocket cost: $6,648

5. City University of New York — Hunter College
Location: Manhattan, New York City
Sticker price (in-state): $23,447
Average need-based scholarship: $8,892
Total out-of-pocket cost: $14,555

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