As the college application season kicks off, keep in mind there are a number of colleges that meet 100% of student financial need. These tend to be highly selective schools, so if you’re a very good student with a strong resume and able to present yourself well, you may want to add these schools to your list. Meeting 100% of financial need implies that many of the students attending the school come from wealthy families and are paying nearly full tuition because their need is low. This dynamic allows the schools to meet the need of less wealthy students who demonstrate their capability and are accepted into the school.
Obviously there are pros and cons to this model. Most of the schools require an in-depth look at family finances using the College Scholarship Service Profile. The CSS process can be daunting and deadlines must be clearly understood and met. Each school also uses its own institutional financial need formula, so your calculated need will be different across schools, sometimes taking items into account that don’t really help you in your effort to make that college affordable.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy provides a list of schools and does a great job summing this up here.