Top Ranked Colleges by Financial Aid for 2018

Financial Aid Award Rankings for 2018

Money is often cited as the largest barrier for students looking to enroll in college.  The cost of higher education does not end with the published tuition rates.  In fact, the costs associated with attending college can include fees, parking, room, board, books, laundry, telephone, and so forth.

However, it is important to understand that many colleges and universities offer generous financial aid packages to help offset the inherent costs associated with attending college.  In fact, the tuition discounts at private colleges hit an all-time high this past year with a net discount of 49% off published tuition rates.

Financial Aid & Your College Experience

What this means for you, specifically, will depend on a number of factors that can only be obtained after requesting information from accredited colleges and moving the application process forward.

Data gathered in late 2017 reflects the fact that the United States has reached a high for the percentage of citizens holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.  Research indicates that over 33% of resident citizens living in the United States hold a bachelor’s degree and is expected to trend higher as more and more employers require this as a baseline.

Link Between Education and Income

To parallel, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has performed a massive study that sheds light on the relationship between income, employment stability, and income level.  The chart assembled by the BLS is very clear on the direct correlation between education levels and income juxtaposed by employment stability.

The simple truth is this: the greater your level of education, the higher probability of employment stability with a greater level of income.  It is clear that education can help individuals earn more and work more consistently than those without a college education.

Top Ranked Colleges by Financial Aid

Below you will find an analysis of the top 50 colleges and universities that provided the largest financial aid awards to full-time, first-time students.  According to the latest data published by the NCES, several well-known colleges extend generous financial aid packages to qualified students.  How this will affect you is yet to be determined but can make a large difference to students that are unable to afford the total cost of college without assistance.

Financial aid awards include a variety of mechanisms from state, federal, and higher education institutions.  Examples of financial aid can include any number of the following items: grants, loans, scholarships, assistantships, tuition waivers, work-study programs, military benefits, tuition discounts, employer aid, and fellowships.

Here is the list of the 50 universities and colleges that provided students the largest grants, largest average financial aid, and state aid for the latest reporting year.  Use this list as a starting point to find your perfect college match and find the best college for you today.

School Name AI Grant FAid AT Grant AS Grant
Columbia University $47,043 58% $48,926 $3,668
Amherst College $44,922 68% $47,145 $2,552
Harvard University $44,029 75% $46,508 $2,482
Webb Institute $44,000 100% $44,756 $500
Yale University $43,650 58% $45,806 $2,492
Washington & Lee $43,207 63% $39,931 $2,960
Dartmouth College $41,963 61% $43,785 $586
Haverford College $41,584 59% $43,170 $2,312
Duke University $41,083 62% $42,704 $4,373
Pomona College $40,897 66% $44,209 $8,045
Williams College $40,777 59% $42,474 $2,327
Colby College $40,686 45% $42,192 $897
Reed College $40,679 51% $42,645 $1,789
Stanford University $40,600 68% $43,118 $9,074
Vassar College $40,139 71% $42,125 $2,645
Princeton University $39,805 59% $41,764 $9,126
Swarthmore College $39,044 59% $40,870 $1,932
Wesleyan University $39,024 50% $41,906 $1,994
Middlebury College $38,915 50% $40,963 $1,540
Colgate University $38,863 51% $40,664 $2,783
Vanderbilt University $38,663 69% $39,383 $5,168
Trinity College $38,495 48% $40,276 $1,930
U Penn $38,418 58% $40,276 $2,776
Franklin & Marshall $38,051 63% $40,089 $3,129
Colorado College $37,856 57% $39,473 $2,307
Hamilton College $37,782 57% $39,863 $3,448
Brown University $37,642 62% $39,737 $476
Wellesley College $37,638 65% $38,950 $2,043
Bard College $37,505 70% $39,613 $2,906
Univ of Richmond $37,333 67% $37,799 $2,955
MIT $37,224 88% $39,339 $1,793
Barnard College $36,942 56% $39,328 $4,209
Bates College $36,795 47% $37,814 $931
Bowdoin College $36,588 47% $38,494 $900
Davidson College $36,455 70% $38,056 $5,057
Skidmore College $36,169 58% $38,712 $5,076
Georgetown University $35,991 52% $37,791 $975
Lafayette College $35,852 55% $36,912 $2,730
CA Institute of Tech $35,587 71% $37,777 $3,634
Wake Forest $35,282 48% $37,554 $4,663
Smith College $34,656 72% $35,987 $1,961
Boston College $34,606 55% $36,668 $1,768
Notre Dame $34,552 66% $35,739 $2,823
Johns Hopkins $34,460 63% $35,195 $1,444
Tufts University $34,282 50% $36,384 $1,692
Cornell University $33,913 61% $34,941 $2,838
Connecticut College $33,871 53% $35,478 $2,067
Bennington College $33,667 97% $34,989 $1,082
Pitzer College $33,665 46% $37,462 $9,084
Emory University $33,497 51% $35,416 $4,806


To better understand the terminology being used, the legend below will help explain the terms represented.  A full description of the data collected and their associated nomenclature above include the following:

AI Grant: The AI Grant column is an abbreviation used to represent the average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates.

FAid:  Is an abbreviation for financial aid provided to students.  The FAid column is a representation of the percentage of full-time and first-time undergraduates that were awarded with any amount of financial aid.

AT Grant: The column AT Grant represents the average amount of state, federal, local, or institutional grant aid awarded to students.

AS Grant: The nomenclature AS Grant is used to represents the average amount of state and/or local grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates at a specific college or university.

Financial Aid Basics

In an effort to help give you a leg-up in your college search process, we have put together a series of valuable tools and resources for you to use.  The items below represent a few of the relevant items other students have found to be valuable when researching financial aid.  With hundreds of resources available, you can quickly search our resources and locate vital financial aid information that is relevant to you and your situation.  Many students prefer to start the process by reading our eBook titled How to Reduce the Cost of College.

FAFSA Information

The FAFSA is a federal document that is an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  The standardized form created by the U.S. government gathers relevant information about your financial situation to assess available contributions towards the cost of college.  To help understand the forms on a more granular level, read our guides for the facts about the FAFSA and FAFSA guide today.

Online Resources for Financial Aid

MatchCollege has published an array of financial aid articles and guides over the years.  Resources include college rankings by financial aid packages, guides for online colleges, financial aid pathways, and research articles on how to use data to improve the financial aid process.  The more you learn about the financial aid process, the better equipped you will be to maximize your overall financial aid package.

Serving in the Military – ROTC Guide

For students electing to utilize the ROTC program to help pay for college, we have created a comprehensive guide for you to read.  Our ROTC Guide will help you understand important acronyms, branches of government, and programs within ROTC to help you through college and learn essential life skills along the way.

College Scholarship Essentials

In addition to grants, the most substantive financial aid packages come from scholarships.  Grants and scholarships are key to your financial aid package as these types of aid do no need to be repaid.  To help you learn more about scholarships, we have created guides to help you understand scholarship basics, college scholarship guide, FAQs, and how to avoid scholarship scams.  To find out more about college scholarships, you can connect with reputable sites such as MyScholly, FastWeb, Scholarship Owl, or programs through your college or university.

Online Student Resources

Along with critical college search resources, admissions information, and our financial aid portal, we have created a number of guides to help you transition to college and manage life while in college.  Key guides we have been asked to create include managing stress, creating a viable budget, time management essentials, and tips to help you more effectively transition to college.  The most popular guides are listed below:

For additional resources, make sure to visit MatchCollege and subscribe to our blog for the latest in college information.

Search For A Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.