I work with a number of families that are fortunate enough to afford to pay the cost of college without relying on need based financial aid. But, no one likes to pay more than they have to for college so where do those families go to find merit based money?
There are two quick solutions to find colleges that have need based money available. The first is an interactive table put together by the New York Times, entitled Colleges and Universities that Award Merit Aid.
The second option is the College Match search engine put together by Collegedata. The search engine allows you to search for colleges based on a variety of criteria including the financial need meet and the amount of merit aid provided. You can search for particular colleges and check to see how well they do with financial aid or you can leave the search criteria blank except for the merit based box to see which colleges provide the most merit based aid.
Of course, there is more to finding the right college than how much you have to pay, but these two tools let you start the process of figuring out what you might get for merit aid if your family won’t qualify for need based aid. Don’t assume, however, that your family won’t get need based aid as some of the most expensive colleges continue to give need based aid even for families with income greater than $200,000.
Also, remember, that to get merit based aid, the student will typically need to consider colleges that are less competitive than the student might otherwise consider because only those colleges have an incentive to pay for the student to attend.