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What Does it Cost to Attend Swarthmore College?

If you’ve ever looked up the cost of a college’s tuition online, only to be frightened by the results, you’re not alone. Indeed, the list price for many schools is intimidating, but there is some good news.


A college’s list price doesn’t account for financial aid, scholarships, or any other common means of lowering the overall price of attendance. Therefore, the published price is actually much higher than what the majority of students will end up paying for that institution.


As such, a far better means of assessing price is to look at the college’s net cost, or the price of the college minus government aid (federal, state, and local), institutional grants, loans, and merit scholarships. While this price tag is still subject to variation, it is overall a far more accurate indicator of a college’s price for the average family.


In this post, we’ll take a look at Swarthmore College, a selective liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. If Swarthmore is on your teen’s list of dream colleges, read on for a better sense of the factors involved in calculating the school’s real price tag.


What Is Swarthmore’s List Price?


A college’s list price is the published price tag for the school’s tuition plus room and board. These components are combined into the maximum price an attendee might pay to attend a given institution. However, the list price generally applies only to families making above $175,000 per year.


In the case of Swarthmore College, the list price is $66,549. This is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students as Swarthmore is a private college.


What the Cost of Attending Swarthmore with Financial Aid?


For students from families making less than $175k, financial aid is perhaps the single most important factor in lowering the cost of attendance. In fact, the average net cost, or list price minus the average financial aid awarded, is $55,509 at Swarthmore.

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Already, this demonstrates a $10,000 markdown from the list price. However, the net cost is dependent on a family’s income, and the number above is therefore subject to variations. For a better sense of the price applicable to your family, we’ve provided net cost by income bracket.


Family Income Average Net Cost
$0-$30,000 $8,083*
$30,001-$48,000 $6,165
$48,001-$75,000 $12,638
$75,001-$110,000 $23,368
$110,000+ $37,004


*These numbers do not reflect any Pell Grants that families may receive. Families with an income of $0-30k often receive Federal Pell Grants, which reduce the amount of financial aid that individual institutions need to award. This is why there is a higher tuition rate for families with $0-30k vs. those with $30k-48k.

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What is the Merit Aid Net Price for Swarthmore?


Unlike financial aid, merit aid is a need-blind financial award provided to students on a purely academic or achievement-driven basis. However, because gaining acceptance to Swarthmore is already such a selective process, merit aid amongst attendees is sparse.


Only 1.7% of Swarthmore students without financial need will ultimately receive merit aid, with the award averaging $850 per student. The subsequent net price for students who don’t qualify for financial aid is $65,699. Swarthmore ranks 784th in a pool of over 1000 schools analyzed by CollegeVine for merit aid generosity.


How Many Students Take Out Loans at Swarthmore?


Swarthmore is a no-loan school, meaning that their financial aid packages only include grants that don’t need to be paid back.


If your student is still short of means to meet Swarthmore’s price tag, however, there is another option that many Swarthmore students opt to take: federal loans. In fact, 61% of Swarthmore students choose to take out federal loans, averaging $2,226 total per undergraduate across all four years.



Local Area Cost Considerations


Depending on a college’s location, cost of living and average wages can vary widely and should therefore be considered a financial factor in attending the college. Swarthmore, for example, is about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia in the town of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.


The Swarthmore area’s cost of living index is 123.4. When compared with the U.S. average index of 100, Swarthmore’s index is pretty reasonable for an upscale college town. In addition, Swarthmore has access to the Philadelphia metropolitan, which not only offers a booming job market but has a lower cost of living, as well.


The vast majority of students who attend Swarthmore will remain on campus for all four years. However, those who choose to live off campus can expect to pay around $1000 per month for a two bedroom apartment.


What Do Student Outcomes Look Like At Swarthmore?


The six-year graduation rate at Swarthmore is 93%. Compared with a national average of just over 60%, Swarthmore’s graduation rate is a testament to the quality of education that students receive and the strength of its community.


In addition, Swarthmore students do well for themselves down the line, with a projected income ten years out of $56,700. The average U.S. salary for someone of comparable age and experience is under $50,000 per year. In short, the rate of tuition at Swarthmore can be a promising investment.


What Are Other Ways to Save on College?


If you’re in need of more ways to save on college, scholarships can be a great way of covering the cost of textbooks, school supplies, or even tuition. There are tons of scholarships out there, each one looking for a different type of applicant. Whether your student is an aspiring writer or researcher, there’s a scholarship out there for them.


However, scholarships can be incredibly competitive, so it’s important to apply to as many as possible to optimize the chances of receiving an award. In addition, you and your student should familiarize yourself with Swarthmore’s scholarship policies.


For example, Swarthmore counts outside scholarships, such as the National Merit Scholarship, toward the financial award and uses these funds to replace the portion students are expected to contribute each year. Be sure to report all outside scholarships to Swarthmore’s financial aid office, as policies may vary by scholarship.


Looking for more advice? Check out the CollegeVine Applications Program, where talented near-peer mentors work one-on-one with families to help them optimize their approach to college applications and paying for college. Call today or read more about our program here.

Short Bio
Rebecca Weinstein is an undergraduate student at Stanford University, where she plans to study English with an emphasis in creative writing. When she is not studying at college, she lives in Morris County, New Jersey with her two dogs and three cats.