Schools that Meet 100% of Demonstrated Financial Need

Want to know how much college will cost you?

We know that financial aid can be confusing—that's why we built our Cost Calculator to help you estimate the cost of college before you apply. Sign up now (it's all free!).

For many families, one of the most stressful parts of college planning is anticipating costs. The average American family now pays more than $100,000 out of pocket for a degree from a private four-year college. This can seem like a nearly impossible financial burden for some families, but it’s important to remember that financial assistance is available and it’s often based on need. 


In fact, some colleges promise to meet the financial needs of all accepted students. To learn more about what it means to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need and which schools are able to offer this amazing benefit, don’t miss this post. 


What is Demonstrated Financial Need?


Demonstrated financial need is essentially how much financial assistance a family will need to cover the cost of attending a college. This figure relies on two separate data points—a family’s expected family contribution, and the cost of attending that specific college. 


The expected family contribution (EFC) is essentially how much a family should be able to contribute towards tuition, determined by the FAFSA. In general, the higher the family’s income and the more assets a family has, the higher the EFC will be.  


The cost of attending (COA) a college is generally the total sticker price at that particular institution. This includes room, board, tuition, any necessary fees, and even essential personal expenses. Basically, it is the all-in cost of attending that school for one full academic year. 


Demonstrated financial need is the gap between the EFC and the COA. Basically, if a family is expected to contribute $15,000 and the COA at the accepted student’s school of choice is $54,000, the demonstrated financial need would be calculated as follows:


$54,000 (Total COA) – $15,000 (EFC) = $39,000 Demonstrated Financial Need


Schools that commit to covering 100% of demonstrated financial need would then be committed to providing a financial aid package worth $39,000 per year in the case above. 


Which Colleges Meet 100% of Demonstrated Financial Need Without Loans?



Which Colleges Meet 100% of Financial Need Without Loans for Certain Income Thresholds?


Cornell University

Total income less than $60,000 and total assets less than $100,000.


Dartmouth College

Total income less than $100,000.


Duke University

Total income less than $40,000, not expected to make any financial contribution.


Haverford College

Total income less than $60,000. Families making more should expect loans ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 a year.


Rice University

Total income less than $130,000.


Vassar College

Total income less than $60,000


Washington University in St. Louis

Total income less than $75,000.


Wellesley College

If family contribution is less than $7,000 and income is less than $60,000. Other students qualifying for financial aid can expect to have a maximum of $15,200 in loans over four years.


Williams College

Total income less than $75,000 with “typical assets.”

Which Colleges Meet 100% of Financial Need but Include Loans in Financial Aid Packages?



What Else Do You Need to Know About Financial Aid?


It’s important to realize that not all financial aid is created equal. That’s why we’ve taken the time to break down the schools above into three separate categories. Financial aid that consists entirely of grants and work study programs are the most desirable forms of aid, since you don’t need to pay back the money.


Many colleges provide low-interest loans as part of a financial aid package. While this may help to cover the immediate expense of college, it can prove costly in the long run. According to CNBC, in 2019 the average student debt at graduation was $29,800. This comes out to almost $300 per month in monthly payments for the next ten years. 


Families should also know where to look for additional financial assistance. While federal institutional aid is a good start, many states also provide aid, and private scholarships are another option. 


For more help navigating the process, don’t miss these CollegeVine resources:



Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.

Don't miss out on the best high school & college admissions resources!

Join thousands of students and parents getting exclusive high school, test prep, and college admissions information.