SmartMoney just published an article on the most affordable colleges in America. While the increase in sticker prices pretty much across the board may suggest otherwise, this article reports that colleges across the country are actually becoming more generous. “No-loan” policies have been adopted by 74% of colleges, including all of the Ivy League schools, and more generous financial aid packages are being delivered to make top colleges more affordable to a wider pool of applicants. The article states that “a good financial aid package is a competitive advantage.” “We want to make sure we’re not walking over the next poet laureate,” says Douglas Christiansen, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions at Vanderbilt University, one of the no-loans schools.
Meanwhile, while many schools have hit or exceeded the $50,000 a year mark, some are still offering their students free tuition (though usually not free room and board and most are not absent of “fees”). Cooper Union, a free college (and a highly selective one at that) is one such example, located in New York City’s East Village. U.S. service academies are free, as are a number of others, which then require their students to serve in the military or perform community service or take on-campus jobs in exchange for their free tuition. Other schools, like Harvard or Dartmouth, offer free tuition to students from families in a particularly low income bracket.
Other options that will reduce your academic financial burden include in-state schools (for state residents, that is) and two-year colleges. Note, however, that some state schools are better bargains than others, including UNC Chapel Hill, University of Texas at Austin, University of Washington, and schools in the UC system.
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