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Resources for Economically Disadvantaged/Underresourced Students


If you come from a family with limited economic means, there are opportunities to save money as you navigate the college application and enrolling process.  Here are some items to consider:

Testing fee waivers


Free test preparation resources


Free Application for Federal Student Aid



Schools with need-blind admissions that meet full need


There are over 4,000 postsecondary institutions in the U.S., but only around 100 offer need-blind admissions where students who require financial assistance are not placed at a disadvantage for admission.  Only a subset of those schools that offer need-blind admissions meet full need (and some that meet full need do not have need-blind admissions).  Here is an initial list of schools with need-blind admissions that meet full need, which is subject to change:

  • Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, KY

  • Amherst College, Amherst, MA

  • Barclay College, Haviland, KS

  • Berea College, Berea, KY

  • Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

  • Brown University, Providence, RI

  • University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • Columbia University, NY, NY

  • Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA

  • Deep Springs College, Deep Springs, CA

  • Davidson College, Davidson, NC

  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

  • Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

  • College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

  • Pomona College, Claremont, CA

  • Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

  • St. Louis Christian College, Florissant, MO

  • Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

  • Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

  • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

  • Webb Institute, Glen Cove, NY

  • Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, PA

  • Yale University, New Haven, CT

"No Loan" Colleges

Frequently need-based aid begins with student loans.  Money Magazine has published an article about colleges that do not require loans as the basis for need-based financial aid.  Please read the fine print as some of the colleges still expect a small contribution from the student.  Here is the article:  Colleges That Don't Use Student Loans in Financial Aid Offers | Money.

Predicting Need-Based Financial Aid

There are steps you can take to predict if you are likely to get a lot of need-based financial aid or not.  I am listing them below in the order of the most general information you can get about being a candidate for need-based to the most specific you can get about being a candidate for need-based financial aid.

(1) Results of Financial Aid Application Forms Predict Financial Aid Awards

Among the most general information you can get will be information from financial aid application forms.  The most widely used form in the U.S. is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.  Beginning around the end of 2023, this form will generate a number called the Student Aid Index (SAI).  This number may be as low as -$1,500.  The CSS profile is used by a minority of colleges, but the colleges that use it tend to be generous with their own money for need-based financial aid.  The CSS Profile generates a number called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC.  The number may be as low as $0.  The lower the SAI or EFC, likely the higher the amount of need-based financial aid.

(2) Database Showing the Percentage of Financial Need Met

Colleges do not always have enough money to meet the full financial need of applicants.  However, some colleges do a much better job of meeting financial need than others.  Here is a chart that shows the percentage of financial need met by individual colleges:

(3) Cost Information Based On Income Ranges

The website College Navigator provides information about the cost of attending individual colleges for families in different income ranges.  First, you look up an individual college.  Next, probably four lines down you see "Net Price" listed, and you click on that.  Then you will see the different prices people pay based on their income range.  You can find College Navigator here:

(4) College Website Price Calculators

Colleges are required to have something on their website called the Net Price Calculator.  Families enter information about their situation and receive an estimate of what it would cost to attend the specific college.  The estimate is just an estimate, and the actual price to the family may be different.  Go onto a college's website and search for "Net Price Calculator" to find the tool on the college's website.

(5) Financial Aid Preread

Some colleges will agree to do a "financial aid preread."  The college will look at the financial aid form in advance of a student applying and tell the family what the cost would be.  Financial aid prereads are time-consuming, so do not be surprised if a college declines to provide a financial aid preread.

Highflying Students

These are resources for economically disadvantaged students with particularly strong academic backgrounds.

Questbridge - Approximately four dozen rigorous and selective colleges and universities provide full scholarships through this program.  I have worked with applicants who received full scholarships to Dartmouth University, Stanford University, and Yale University through this program.  The program requires applicants to write a large number of essays during a short period of time.

Matchlighters - Matchlighters Scholars Program (

Posse Foundation -

Gates Millenium Scholarships - Scholarships for minority high school seniors planning to attend college.  Gates Millennium Scholarship - Access Scholarships

Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships - Our Scholarships - Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (

Other resources:

Third Way:  Providing Low-Income Students the Best Bang for Their Educational Buck – Third Way

Reach Higher Initiative / Better Make Room -

College Point -

Contact me for a free initial consultation.

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