Cracking open an acceptance letter isn’t the only crucial moment of your summer before college. Decoding your award letter is just as significant.
After all, what good is being admitted if you can’t afford your way to campus?
Affordability, however, may no longer be a concern at dozens of schools around the country. They offer the most generous financial aid packages — no student loans necessary.
What is a no-loans policy?
America’s collective student loan debt stands at $1.56 trillion and growing, and many colleges and universities have decided they want to no part of increasing the figure.
Through so-called no-loans policies, these schools’ financial aid offices promise not to employ federal, institutional or private student loans to help you meet your cost of attendance. They replace debt with scholarships, grants and work-study opportunities, plus parent contributions when possible.
To be clear: If you decide to borrow money, these schools won’t stop you. Stanford University’s financial aid office says it will assist you in securing a loan if you decide you’d rather not spend the school year or summer working. (You might also resort to borrowing if your school’s no-loan package doesn’t cover the off-campus apartment or nonacademic expenses you might need to pay.)
Still, the following schools make it a point that you don’t have to take on debt to take on higher education.
71 colleges and universities with no-loans policies
Not all no-loan schools have the same offering. Some promise to help all students bypass borrowing, while others assist only low-income or in-state students avoid education debt.
These 21 colleges and universities — including some prestigious schools with need-blind admissions and healthy endowments — will help all incoming students avoid student debt.
1. Amherst College
2. Berea College
3. Bowdoin College
4. Brown University
5. Colby College
6. College of the Ozarks
7. Columbia University
8. Davidson College
9. Harvard University
10. Haverford College
11. Johns Hopkins University
12. Northwestern University
13. Pomona College
14. Princeton University
15. Stanford University
16. Swarthmore College
17. University of Chicago
18. University of Pennsylvania
19. Vanderbilt University
20. Washington and Lee University
21. Yale University
These 24 schools reserve their no-loans policy for their lowest-income students. Each policy sets criteria for qualifying, including:
Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) would give these schools the information they need to determine your eligibility for a loan-free aid package.
22. Arizona State University: Household income up to $25,000
23. California Institute of Technology: Household income below $60,000
24. Connecticut College: Household income $50,000 or below and EFC $5,000 or below
25. Cornell University: Household income below $60,000 and assets below $100,000
26. Dartmouth College: Household income below $100,000
27. Duke University: Household income below $40,000
28. Emory University: Household income below $50,000
29. Lafayette College: Household income below $50,000 and have limited assets
30. Lehigh University: Household income below $75,000 and assets below $500,000
31. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Household income below $75,000 and have limited assets
32. Miami University (Ohio): Household income of $35,000 or less
33. Michigan State University: Household income at or below the poverty line
34. Oberlin College: Qualify for a Pell Grant
35. Rice University: Household income below $80,000
36. Tufts University: Household income below $40,000
37. University of California schools: Household income below $60,000
38. University of Maryland: An EFC of zero
39. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Household income up to 200% of the poverty line
40. University of Virginia: Household income up to 200% of the poverty line
41. University of Washington: Household income up to about 235% of the poverty line and qualify for Pell Grants or state-needed grants
42. Vassar College: Household income below $60,000
43. Washington University: Household income below $75,000
44. Wellesley College: Household income $60,000 or below
45. Wesleyan University: Household income $40,000 or below
Aside from chasing in-state tuition, there’s another reason to attend the college or university in your own backyard. It comes without strings — er, loans — attached.
If you don’t mind staying close to home, check out the no-loans requirements for these 26 schools, rounding out our overall list of 71:
46. University of Arizona: Residents with a household income $42,400 or less who are eligible for a Pell Grant
47. University of California schools: Residents with a household income below $80,000
48. Colorado State University-Pueblo: Residents with a household income below $50,000 who received a Pell Grant
49. Fairfield University: Bridgeport, Conn., high school graduates with a household income below $50,000
50. Sacred Heart University: Fairfield County high school graduates with a household income below $50,000
51. University of Florida: Residents with a household income below $40,000 seeking to become first-generation college graduates in their family
52. Georgia Institute of Technology: Residents whose parents earn less than $33,300 per year
53. Northern Illinois University: College freshman residents who are eligible for Pell and state grants
54. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Residents with a zero EFC and a household income below the poverty line
55. Indiana University: Residents who completed the 21st Century Scholars application in middle school and are eligible for the federal government’s free lunch program
56. University of Louisville: Residents with household income below 150% of the poverty line
57. Boston University: Residents who graduated from a public school in the state
58. College of Holy Cross: Worcester, Mass., residents with a household income below $50,000
59. University of Michigan: Residents with a zero EFC who are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree
60. University of Minnesota schools: Residents attending school full time with a household income up to $100,000
61. Appalachian State University: Residents attending school full-time with a household income below the poverty line and a zero EFC
62. University of Toledo: Residents graduating from an Ohio public high school with a 3.0 GPA who are eligible for the Pell Grant
63. Bryan College: Residents with a household income below $35,000 who are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree
64. University of Tennessee: Residents with a household income up to $40,000
65. Texas State University: Residents with a household income $25,000 or less who are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree
66. Lamar University: Residents with a household income below $25,001 who are eligible for a Pell Grant
67. University of Texas at El Paso: Residents with a household income below $30,000 or less
68. University of Texas at Dallas: Residents with a household income $25,000 or less who are attending school full-time and are eligible for Pell Grants
69. Texas A&M University: Residents with a household income $60,000 or less
70. University of Vermont: Residents who are eligible for a Pell Grant
71. College of William and Mary: Residents with a household income below $40,000
How to qualify for the no-loans schools on your college list
The FAFSA is a crucial step to affording any college. It will set the benchmark of your EFC and potentially work in your favor as you seek financial aid not offered directly by schools, perhaps in the form of private scholarships and grants from your state.
Contact the financial aid offices of your top schools, whether they have no-loans policies or not, to collect the latest information about their resources and support. You can determine what kind of aid you qualify for, and how to go about obtaining it.
If a handful of no-loans schools are on your college list and you’re eligible to benefit, you’re in luck. Keep in mind, however, that while generous aid could be handed out, gaining admission would still be up to you.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.
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