Need-based Financial Aid
Having worked with hundreds of students through our College Planning Cohort Program, and having reviewed hundreds of Financial Aid Award Letters, we have gained first-hand insight into the array of financial aid policies across the college admissions landscape. Students and parents typically believe that the EFC (Expected Family Contribution), as computed by the U.S. Department of Education, after processing a student’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), is the amount that parents (or independent students) are required to pay toward the costs of attending college.
Many institutions will play on the naiveté of students and parents by providing intentionally misleading Financial Aid Award Letters, which suggest that students with ‘0’ or low EFCs will not pay anything toward their college costs. The most common practice involved in this deception is to list Federal Student Loans under the caption, ‘Awards,’ or using such language as, “We are pleased to offer.” while also failing to disclose the estimated Cost of Attendance.
As a result, students and parents assume thousands of dollars in student loan debt as a means of reaching their ‘0’ EFC. Any remaining financial aid gap is oftentimes closed with a combination of small scholarships such as, Achiever’s Scholarship, Trustee Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship, etc., which are not renewable after the student’s first year. To register for second-year classes, students simply take out more student loan debt and the process continues year after year until students reach their federal student loan maximums, at which time, many students simply stop attending college.
So what does ‘Need-based’ financial aid really mean?
Need-based financial aid simply means that a college will assist in meeting a student’s full financial need, based on either the EFC, as generated by the FAFSA, or the financial need as determined by the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. However, the means through which a student’s financial need is met will vary widely from being met with generous need-based institutional scholarships and grants, to being met with thousands of dollars in student loans. In this regard, there are institutions that have ‘no-loan’ financial aid policies, where student loans are not considered as part of their financial aid formula, and other institutions where student loans represent the most significant part of their financial aid formula.
How do I identify the institutions that offer the most generous institutional scholarships and grants?
Go to the US News and World Reports college rankings and the colleges with the most generous need-based financial aid policies are atop the rankings and among the most selective institutions to which a student can be offered admission. For example, Williams College is the top ranked liberal arts college in the United States and has the most generous financial aid policies that we have experienced through our students. Students with demonstrated financial need receive free books, assistance with their health insurance, transportation, and other unexpected costs associated with attending Williams College. Amherst College, the number two ranked liberal arts college is nearly as generous. Our students with demonstrated financial need have received institutional scholarship offers from Amherst College covering overing 94 percent of the $72,000 per year estimated Cost of Attendance (after application of the US Pell Grant).
Students and parents must carefully research colleges long prior to submitting applications if students are to position themselves for being offered admission to institutions with the most generous need-based financial aid policies. We have listed institutions, of which we are aware, with some of the most generous need-based and institutional scholarship programs:
Top liberal arts colleges: Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Pomona, Carleton, Claremont McKenna, Davidson, Washington & Lee, Colby, Colgate University, Harvey Mudd, Smith, Vassar, Grinnell, Hamilton, Haverford, Wesleyan University, and Bates.
“Williams has one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country, thanks to generations of gifts from alumni, parents, and friends. It allows us to award more than $50 million a year in financial aid to more than half of all Williams students. Our financial aid program is based entirely on need, and we meet 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated need. We are committed to working with you and your family to make a Williams education affordable.”
“We aim to ensure high-achieving students from all backgrounds realize a Colby education is accessible regardless of their families’ means,” said Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Matt Proto. “Colby has many ways of expressing this commitment, most notably that we meet the full demonstrated need of admitted students using grants, not loans, in financial aid packages. This cost estimator is another tool for families to see that a Colby education is possible.”
The Ivy League: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale.
“Princeton has a long history of admitting students without regard to their financial circumstances and, for more than a decade, has provided student grants and campus jobs — not student loans — to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all students offered admission.”
Top national universities: University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford, Duke, CalTech, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, and Vanderbilt.
“Providing for college is one of the largest single investments a family will make, and we strongly believe that a Vanderbilt education is well worth the investment. Opportunity Vanderbiltreflects our belief that a world-renowned education should be accessible to all qualified students regardless of their economic circumstances.”
“We make three important commitments to U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens to ensure that students from many different economic circumstances can enroll at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt will meet 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need. Instead of offering need-based loans to undergraduate students, Vanderbilt offers additional grant assistance. This does not involve income bands or “cut-offs” that impact or limit eligibility.”
How many colleges should I apply to?
Because financial aid policies so widely vary by institution, the rule of thumb for students who qualify for need-based financial aid, is to apply to as many selective institutions as possible, to which the student is a strong candidate for admission, so that they student and their parents will have many financial aid award letters upon which to base their financial college choice.
The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation partners with visionary colleges and universities to award multi-year scholarships that enable extraordinary educational experiences. Scholars receive annual awards that range from $72,000 to $5,000 (four-year awards total an average of $288,000 – $20,000) with additional funds for enrichment activities such as study abroad, academic conferences, and leadership training. The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation and partner schools evenly share the costs of the awards.
The unique benefit that all Stamps Scholarships include is an enrichment fund, an additional monetary fund for Scholars to use in their academic and professional development. They may use the award to study or volunteer outside the United States, conduct research, or participate in a leadership program or academic conference. We like to think of this part of the award as the “dream fund.”
Where to Apply
Applying for a Stamps Scholarship is easy: just apply to one or more of our partner schools. If you qualify, you’ll automatically be considered for a Stamps award. The majority of our partner colleges and universities don’t require a separate application for the Stamps Scholarship, but the application deadline and award process varies from school to school along with the amount of the award. Expect an interview (or two or three) to be part of the process.
Visit the website of the school or schools of your choice to find out more about their unique application process and deadlines.
Criteria & Eligibility
The Stamps Foundation, with its partner schools, seeks students who demonstrate academic merit, strong leadership potential, and exceptional character. We support exceptional young people with promise and vision who are eager to make their contribution to the world and have the work ethic to make their dreams a reality.
Leadership development is at the core of the Stamps Scholarship program. Leadership potential is also a key part of the selection criteria for receiving a Stamps award. And, Stamps Scholars receive a separate financial award to participate in leadership activities of their choosing.
The Stamps Foundation welcomes and supports students from all backgrounds and areas of study. Financial need is not a consideration. At some of our partner schools, international students are eligible for the Stamps Scholarship. Students should check directly with the program that they are interested in to view eligibility requirements.
Stamps Scholarships are not transferable to other colleges or universities.
A student must apply directly to one or more of our partner schools to be considered for the Stamps Scholarship.
At certain schools, the Stamps Scholarship Program is part of an umbrella program for scholars, such as the Foundation Fellows at the University of Georgia or the Carolina Scholars at the University of South Carolina.
In many cases, students who apply by certain deadlines (often the early or ‘scholarship’ deadline) using the normal freshman application for admission will be automatically considered for the Stamps Scholarship. In some cases, however, our partner school may request a separate application for consideration of the Stamps Scholarship.
Speak with an admissions counselor or visit the website of the school or schools of your choice to find out more about their unique application process and deadlines.
The Stamps Foundation does not accept Stamps Scholarship applications.
The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program invests in young leaders who strive to make transformational contributions to society.
The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program’s investment begins with the selection of a diverse community of undergraduate students who demonstrate extraordinary potential. We provide these young leaders with exceptional benefits and a distinctive set of shared experiences:
- Four-year scholarship, including undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, room and board
- Unique access to the academic and extracurricular offerings at both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill
- Three summers of domestic and international experiences
- Customized leadership and professional development opportunities
- Extensive community of Robertson Scholars, alumni, and staff
During this journey, Robertson Scholars learn to create change, foster collaboration, turn their passions into action, and have a palpable impact in their communities. The experience of being a Robertson Scholar helps students become thoughtful, creative, lifelong contributors to society – the kind of citizens and leaders prepared to meet the unprecedented challenges of our interdependent world.
The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program was created in 2000 through a $24 million gift from Julian Robertson, a 1955 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his wife, Josie. Inspired by their sons, one of whom graduated from Duke in 1998 and another who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001, the Robertsons believed that each institution offered a distinctive undergraduate experience, but that the combination of the two promised a breadth and depth of resources that no other university could match.
There is no single definition of a Hesburgh-Yusko scholar. Our current scholars are physicists and filmmakers, social activists and researchers, writers and business consultants. What do they have in common? They are intellectually curious, driven, and creative; they are dynamic young leaders with a passionate commitment to making the world a better place.
All candidates for our Program are evaluated according to four criteria:
DEMONSTRATED LEADERSHIP ABILITY
Hesburgh-Yusko scholars have the potential to produce great and beneficial change in the University, the nation, and the world. We are looking for intellectually versatile students who are capable of leading with confidence and humility. We believe leadership is best manifested in the embodiment of vision and action.
DISTINGUISHED ACADEMIC ACCOMPLISHMENT
Hesburgh-Yusko scholars care about exploring ideas and engaging in meaningful and productive dialogue. They demonstrate significant achievement in the classroom, but their motivation for academic success stems from a true passion for learning and the discovery process.
SINCERE COMMITMENT TO SERVICE
Hesburgh-Yusko scholars are driven by a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the world around them. Successful candidates will have a generous spirit and a worldview that is oriented toward serving others.
EXEMPLARY MORAL CHARACTER
Hesburgh-Yusko scholars demonstrate strongly developed moral principles— they are guided by their beliefs about right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice. They are sincere in their convictions, and they are respected among their peers as people of kindness, integrity, courage, and faith.
The Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program (HYSP) is a highly selective scholarship and leadership development program for students who are passionate about making a difference in the world. Please view the selection criteria for our Program.
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions identifies outstanding candidates for HYSP. To be eligible for consideration, a student must apply for admission in either Restrictive Early Action with a complete application by November 1, or in Regular Decision with a complete application by January 1.
More information on the selection process is available at meritscholarships.nd.edu, or by contacting the Office of Merit Scholarship Enrollment, 574.631.2233
Danforth Scholars Program
The Danforth Scholars Program honors the student who embraces high ideals, whose life choices are guided by personal integrity, selflessness, a commitment to community, and a dedication to leadership and academic excellence.
Named in honor of William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth, the former Chancellor and First Lady of Washington University from 1971 to 1995, the program is a tribute to their exemplary leadership and service. The program is funded by friends of the Danforths.
Since the program’s inception, nearly 45,000 students have been nominated and from that group, approximately 650 have been named as Danforth finalists. These finalists have been selected from schools across the United States and around the world.
Danforth Scholars may receive full- or partial-tuition scholarships. The scholarship is renewed each year for the duration of the degree program, provided the scholar progresses academically and upholds the high standards of character required of scholars.
The Program is open to prospective graduate or undergraduate students applying to Washington University. Undergraduates must be nominated to receive consideration. All students admitted to graduate study at Washington University will be automatically considered for a graduate Danforth Scholarship. This is a merit-based program, but need will be considered as part of the award process.
Nomination and Selection for the Undergraduate Program
The Danforth Scholars Selection Committee, composed of university faculty and friends, will consider all nominations individually and in detail. To be considered for this prestigious award, a student must be nominated by an individual who has substantive knowledge of the student’s accomplishments and goals. In addition to outstanding academic performance, the committee is interested in activities that illustrate the candidate’s exceptional commitment to community service, high moral character, and similar qualities that exemplify the Danforths’ legacy at Washington University. The selection committee finds it helpful to learn of specific examples of leadership, academic, and personal achievements that set this student apart from his or her peers.
Each summer a call for nominations goes out to high school guidance counselors. Nominations are due by November 15.
Upon the committee’s receipt of the nomination, the student will be invited to apply to the Danforth Scholars Program. Up to 40 applicants will be selected as finalists and will be invited to campus for a required interview weekend. As many as four full-tuition and a number of partial-tuition scholarships will be awarded.
Once here, students selected as Danforth Scholars are expected to participate in program activities and to inspire others with their dedication to community and academic life.
Application Process for the Undergraduate Program
When a student has been nominated, the committee will notify the student and provide the application.
To be considered for the scholarship, the student must return the application, short answers, essay, and transcript to the committee by 5:00 p.m. Central Time on January 5, 2018. The student also must submit the application for undergraduate admission to the Class of 2021, including essay, recommendations, and SAT or ACT scores by 5:00 p.m. Central Time on January 2, 2018. Students whose primary language is not English must submit TOEFL scores by the same date.
William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth
As the former Chancellor and First Lady of Washington University, the Danforths inspired countless others with their values, character, and commitment.
Dr. Danforth spent 20 years at the university as a medical resident, faculty member, and, eventually, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs. He began serving the university as its 13th Chancellor in 1971. When he retired 24 years later, he was credited with leading the effort that molded the University into one of the nation’s finest teaching and research institutions. Following his retirement as Chancellor, Dr. Danforth served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for four years and now is the University’s Chancellor Emeritus.
Dr. Danforth and the late Mrs. Danforth devoted countless hours to building the university and maintaining ties with its students and alumni. But their reach has extended well beyond the University. Dr. Danforth continues to be one of St. Louis’ most highly regarded public citizens and a tireless champion of the community.
Danforth Scholars Program FAQs
Why is the paper Danforth Application different from the online application? Does it matter which one I submit?
Because you must submit the Common Application before you submit the online Danforth Application, we pull some information from your Common Application directly into your Danforth Application to save you time. It does not matter which form you submit.
To be eligible for the Morehead-Cain, you must be:
- a competitive applicant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- on track to graduate in the spring
Please note: While candidates for the scholarship are more than welcome to apply to other colleges and universities under Early Action or Regular Decision application plans, candidates are not permitted to apply binding Early Decision to other colleges or universities while under consideration for the Morehead-Cain.
Entering the Selection Process
These eligibility requirements are the same for all students applying for the Morehead-Cain, but there are five different ways to enter the selection process:
- Be nominated by your high school (All N.C. high schools are eligible)
- Apply directly for the scholarship
- Be nominated by an eligible school
- Apply directly if you don’t attend an eligible school
- Learn more about the Canadian selection process
- Be nominated by an eligible school
- Apply directly if you don’t attend an eligible school
- Learn more about the British selection process
Out-of-state or International
- Be nominated by your high school (only eligible schools can nominate)
- Be nominated by an eligible affiliate program
- Apply directly as a self-nominee if you are a resident of North Carolina who attends an out-of-state school
Admissions Referral Program (ARP)
The UNC Admissions Office refers particularly strong Early Action applicants to UNC to the Morehead-Cain selection process. In most cases, referred students attend high schools that are not eligible to nominate on their own.
- Apply for admission to UNC by the (non-binding) Early Action deadline of October 15 to be considered for the Morehead-Cain
- Be nominated by the UNC Admissions Office through the Admissions Referral Program
The Wells Scholars Program offers:
- Close interaction with faculty
- Academic and career mentoring
- International experience and engagement
- Frequent extracurricular activities, often with distinguished visitors
- Interdisciplinary Wells freshman seminars that address fundamental issues and are taught by outstanding faculty
- Support for a summer internship, research or volunteer project, creative activity, or other enriching experience
- Opportunities for involvement in community service with fellow Scholars
- A combination of the best features of a large research university and a small liberal arts college
Wells Scholars may major in any field offered at IU. Each Scholar works with a Hutton Honors College advisor to design a course of study that takes into consideration the student’s interests, goals, and strengths.
Freshman Scholars enroll in a Wells freshman seminar in fall and in spring. During the year, Scholars develop intellectual and personal bonds with their classmates while they read major works and discuss challenging ideas.
JOHN MONTGOMERY BELK SCHOLARSHIP
The John Montgomery Belk Scholarship is one of our nation’s most prestigious and generous undergraduate scholarships. The program is built around our belief that, as a Belk Scholar, you possess unique talents that should be recognized and nurtured.
John M. Belk ’43 amassed a record of leadership and accomplishment at Davidson. Thanks to the generosity of the John M. Belk Educational Endowment, 32 Belk Scholars are currently enrolled at Davidson (8 Belk Scholars named in each entering class).
The Belk Scholarship will provide you comprehensive funding (tuition, fees, room and board) plus special study stipends that allow you great flexibility in the on- and off-campus opportunities you choose to explore. Those experiences, paired with our academic programs, deepen your intellect, maturity, and global understanding.
Guidance counselors, heads of school, or principals may nominate one or two candidates from each school. Our admission staff may also nominate students based on the strength of their application for admission. Learn more about the nomination and selection process, including deadlines for nominations.
To make a nomination, complete the online nomination form (preferred) or print the form (PDF) and mail it to the Office of Admission and Financial aid. Nominations must also include a recommendation letter and transcript. For additional information, contact Director of Merit Programs Gardner Roller Ligo at 704-894-2970.
Belk Scholars are energetic, adventurous, studious, artistic, athletic, creative, collaborative, engaged, and compassionate. Learn more about this impressive group and hear about their experiences through video.
Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia is a place where producing leaders for a self-governing people has always been a primary goal. The undergraduate scholarship program has been attracting and cultivating undergraduate leaders since 1980, providing them sufficient financial support so that they are free to develop their talents and to use them for the good of the University community.
Award – Intended to cover the entire cost of attendance for four years at the University of Virginia plus coverage of the supplemental enrichment experiences
Total value of the scholarship exceeds:
- $280,000 for non-Virginian students
- $150,000 for Virginian students
The Jefferson Scholar Stipend in 2017-2018 will exceed:
- $62,000 for non-Virginian students
- $31,500 for Virginian students
- Jefferson Scholars’ stipend includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and personal expenses.
Enrichment – The scholarship also includes an extensive enrichment program which supports and nurtures these students throughout their four years at U.Va. Opportunities include:
- Team Challenge Program
- Institute for Leadership and Citizenship
- Foreign Travel Studies
- Alumni Connections Program
- Career Counseling
- Public Service Fellows
- Enrichment Dinners and Receptions
The Howard University Freshman Scholarship (HUFS) Program is designed to assist accepted First-Time-in-College students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement throughout their secondary school career and have chosen to attend Howard University. Scholarships are automatically awarded on a first-come, first-served, basis to eligible candidates. A separate application is not required. (Scholarships are awarded until all funds have been exhausted and not all eligible applicants will receive an award).
Full scholarships are offered to students with GPAs of 3.75+; ACT 34+; SAT 1500+. Click here for all scholarship offers…