Studying at a top university may be cheaper than you think

August 21st, 2010 by Alexis

Studying at a top university may not be as expensive as you think

Students who are strapped for cash could pay half the tuition costs at some of the top universities, such as Harvard, Princeton or Yale.

Every year the U.S. News & World Report publishes rankings of over 1,400 institutions, which include national universities, regional universities, regional colleges and liberal arts colleges. Ultimately, the annual report serves as a great starting point for future students who are interested in researching into graduation rates, the cost of tuition and financial aid. After researching over 1,400 colleges and universities in the country, U.S. News discovered that dozens of top colleges are now offering tuition discounts and financial aid so needy students can pay as little as $20,000 a year.

(Check out the U.S. News & World Report’s list for “Great Schools, Great Prices,” or click on any of the following links to view other rankings included in the annual report)

The institutions are ranked according to 16 different factors which include graduation rates, class size, faculty resources, selection of students, financial resources, “alumni satisfaction,” freshmen SAT scores and the ratio of professors to students. Resources for financial aid account for 10 percent of each ranking, as well as the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants. U.S. News also researches the average spending per student on instruction, student services and research. However, the amount spent on sports, dorms and hospitals is not included.

Even though the full cost of tuition at Yale University is approximately $53,000, nearly 54 percent of students who were eligible for financial aid paid $13,600 for the 2010-11 school year. The remaining 46 percent were from upper class families, because Yale charges each student according to his/her annual family income: Any student from a family earning less than $60,000 per year can become eligible for $50,000 in grants; however, a student from a family earning up to $200,000 a year can become eligible for scholarships so in tuition costs, he or she pays about 10 percent of the family income each year.

At Harvard, some students pay less than $15,000 a year, while at Princeton, nearly 60 percent of students are eligible for a 69 percent discount off the $52,000 full tuition cost.

Some “lesser-known” colleges have been offering scholarships to almost every student; for example, only 2 percent of the students at Ripon College in Wisconsin ended up paying the full cost of tuition ($35,000), while the remaining percentage paid at least half of the tuition cost, depending on their qualifications and family finances. Also, nearly 84 percent of the students received need-based grants, or were eligible for merit scholarships depending on their grades and/or talents.

According to U.S. News, the college with the lowest tuition cost after scholarships was the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, where out-of-state students paid an average of $8,000 annually.

Also, at Aquinas College in Michigan, over 80 percent of students paid a little over $12,000 thanks to grants, and at Amherst College, one of the top-rated liberal arts colleges, 57 percent of students who were eligible for financial aid paid approximately $13,000 in 2009.

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