Which Colleges Give Out the Most Merit Aid? A List of the Top 50

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When it comes to figuring out how affordable a college is, it helps to know if the college awards any sort of merit aid, and how much it awards to students who qualify. Many students find that they don’t qualify for federal financial aid (aside from loans, which virtually every student qualifies for) and they’re left wondering how they’ll be able to cover the cost of college.

 

That’s where merit aid comes in. Because it isn’t need-based, merit aid can ease the financial burden for students and their families, which means less stress and less debt. Some colleges give out more than others, though, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 50 colleges that award merit aid based on students who don’t qualify for need-based aid.

 

What is Merit Aid?

 

In general, there are two broad categories of financial aid: merit-based and need-based. Need-based aid is determined through forms like the FAFSA or the CSS Profile, which calculate how much a student’s family can be expected to contribute to the cost of their education based on things like household income. You can find a quick run-down of the common financial aid forms in our post FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid.

 

Merit aid, on the other hand, is based on a student’s achievements and qualifications. This type of aid usually comes in the form of a scholarship and can be awarded by colleges or private institutions. Oftentimes, institutions will award merit aid to incoming freshmen based on their academic profile, such as standardized test scores, GPA, and class rank. They hope to attract strong candidates and diverse talent, and one way to do that is to lessen the financial burden on the student through institutional merit aid.

 

Sometimes students receive merit aid for their extracurricular accomplishments—a well-known example is the prized athletic scholarship, but there are scholarships for performing a high number of volunteer hours, demonstrating significant artistic talent, and so on.

 

Aside from institutional aid, students can find merit scholarships from private organizations, the most notable being the National Merit Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship comes with a host of other benefits, but it’s also very competitive.

 

You can learn more about merit aid and find information about scholarships in our post What is a Merit Scholarship?

 

How Did CollegeVine Calculate the Top Schools?

 

CollegeVine has work with thousands of students and compiled unmatched data regarding admissions and affordability. We used our data insights to put this list together and ranked the schools according to which one awarded the most as a percentage of out-of-state tuition.

For each of the schools below, we’ve provided the following information:

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need. As the name suggests, this is the amount of aid you could expect if you have no financial need, determined by forms like the FAFSA or CSS Profile.

 

  • Total in-state price. This is the price that an in-state student would be expected to pay for tuition.

 

  • Total out-of-state price. This is the price that an in-state student would be expected to pay for tuition.  (Note: Although tuition alone is usually the same regardless of a student’s residency, out-of-state students often pay an out-of-state or nonresident fee, which is why their expenses are generally higher.)

 

  • Percentage of in-state tuition. This is the percentage of in-state tuition covered based on the average merit aid award for a student without need.

 

  • Percentage of out of state tuition. This is the percentage of out-of-state tuition covered based on the average merit aid award for a student without need.

 

The Top 50 Colleges that Award the Most Merit Aid

 

1. Hollins University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $29,647
  • Total in-state price: $52,435
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,435
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 56.54%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 56.54%

 

2. Clarke University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $24,955
  • Total in-state price: $44,500
  • Total out-of-state price: $44,500
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 56.08%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 56.08%

 

3. Cardinal Stritch University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,939
  • Total in-state price: $41,844
  • Total out-of-state price: $41,844
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 52.43%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 52.43%

 

4. Southern Wesleyan University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $18,867
  • Total in-state price: $36,120
  • Total out-of-state price: $36,120
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 52.23%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 52.23%

 

5. Agnes Scott College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $26,447
  • Total in-state price: $51,992
  • Total out-of-state price: $51,992
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 50.87%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 50.87%

 

6. College of the Ozarks

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $14,492
  • Total in-state price: $28,992
  • Total out-of-state price: $28,992
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 49.99%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 49.99%

 

7. Lycoming College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $25,412
  • Total in-state price: $51,652
  • Total out-of-state price: $51,652
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 49.20%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 49.20%

 

8. Illinois College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $19,913
  • Total in-state price: $42,300
  • Total out-of-state price: $42,300
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 47.08%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 47.08%

 

9. Monmouth College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,501
  • Total in-state price: $46,550
  • Total out-of-state price: $46,550
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 46.19%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 46.19%

 

10. Maryville College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $22,190
  • Total in-state price: $48,108
  • Total out-of-state price: $48,108
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 46.13%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 46.13%

 

11. Hendrix College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $26,550
  • Total in-state price: $58,120
  • Total out-of-state price: $58,120
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.68%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.68%

 

12. Austin College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $23,715
  • Total in-state price: $52,047
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,047
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.56%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.56%

 

13. Simpson College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $22,008
  • Total in-state price: $48,376
  • Total out-of-state price: $48,376
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.49%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.49%

 

14. Coe College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $24,319
  • Total in-state price: $53,490
  • Total out-of-state price: $53,490
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.46%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.46%

 

15. Saint Vincent College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,573
  • Total in-state price: $47,581
  • Total out-of-state price: $47,581
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.34%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.34%

 

16. Millsaps College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $23,963
  • Total in-state price: $53,030
  • Total out-of-state price: $53,030
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.19%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.19%

 

17. Beloit College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $25,897
  • Total in-state price: $57,506
  • Total out-of-state price: $57,506
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 45.03%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 45.03%

 

18. Albion College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $24,351
  • Total in-state price: $54,150
  • Total out-of-state price: $54,150
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 44.97%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 44.97%

 

19. Bridgewater College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,546
  • Total in-state price: $47,940
  • Total out-of-state price: $47,940
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 44.94%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 44.94%

 

20. Wartburg College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $22,569
  • Total in-state price: $50,240
  • Total out-of-state price: $50,240
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 44.92%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 44.92%

 

21. Loras College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $18,877
  • Total in-state price: $42,336
  • Total out-of-state price: $42,336
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 44.59%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 44.59%

 

22. Young Harris College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $18,668
  • Total in-state price: $42,455
  • Total out-of-state price: $42,455
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.97%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.97%

 

23. Augustana University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $17,928
  • Total in-state price: $40,824
  • Total out-of-state price: $40,824
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.91%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.91%

 

Note: Mississippi University for Women ranks 23rd for in-state tuition as well, but doesn’t rank for percentage of out-of-state tuition.

 

24. Saint Xavier University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $20,389
  • Total in-state price: $46,468
  • Total out-of-state price: $46,468
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.88%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.88%

 

25. Wheeling Jesuit University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $17,087
  • Total in-state price: $39,006
  • Total out-of-state price: $39,006
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.81%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.81%

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26. Florida Southern College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $20,452
  • Total in-state price: $46,700
  • Total out-of-state price: $46,700
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.79%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.79%

 

27. Birmingham Southern College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,955
  • Total in-state price: $50,400
  • Total out-of-state price: $50,400
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.56%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.56%

 

28. Manchester University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $18,616
  • Total in-state price: $43,152
  • Total out-of-state price: $43,152
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.14%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.14%

 

29. Northland College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $19,541
  • Total in-state price: $45,367
  • Total out-of-state price: $45,367
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 43.07%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 43.07%

 

30. Virginia Wesleyan College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $20,916
  • Total in-state price: $48,978
  • Total out-of-state price: $48,978
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 42.71%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 42.71%

 

31. St. Catherine University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $20,825
  • Total in-state price: $49,180
  • Total out-of-state price: $49,180
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 42.34%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 42.34%

 

32. Spring Hill College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $22,354
  • Total in-state price: $52,854
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,854
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 42.29%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 42.29%

 

33. Albright College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $23,572
  • Total in-state price: $55,992
  • Total out-of-state price: $55,992
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 42.10%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 42.10%

 

34. Bellarmine University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $24,276
  • Total in-state price: $57,794
  • Total out-of-state price: $57,794
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 42.00%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 42.00%

 

35. Wittenberg University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,589
  • Total in-state price: $51,416
  • Total out-of-state price: $51,416
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.99%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.99%

 

36. Concordia College at Moorhead

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $16,076
  • Total in-state price: $38,378
  • Total out-of-state price: $38,378
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.89%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.89%

 

37. University of Evansville

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $20,492
  • Total in-state price: $48,970
  • Total out-of-state price: $48,970
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.85%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.85%

 

38. Gustavus Adolphus College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $22,704
  • Total in-state price: $54,280
  • Total out-of-state price: $54,280
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.83%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.83%

 

39. John Brown University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $15,807
  • Total in-state price: $37,814
  • Total out-of-state price: $37,814
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.80%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.80%

 

40. Southwestern University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,950
  • Total in-state price: $52,650
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,650
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.69%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.69%

 

41. Buena Vista University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $18,668
  • Total in-state price: $44,788
  • Total out-of-state price: $44,788
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.68%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.68%

 

42. Westminster College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $16,104
  • Total in-state price: $38,650
  • Total out-of-state price: $38,650
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.67%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.67%

 

43. Juniata College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $23,221
  • Total in-state price: $56,010
  • Total out-of-state price: $56,010
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.46%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.46%

 

44. Augustana College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,479
  • Total in-state price: $51,858
  • Total out-of-state price: $51,858
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.42%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.42%

 

45. Cedarville University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $15,633
  • Total in-state price: $37,890
  • Total out-of-state price: $37,890
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.26%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.26%

 

46. Elizabethtown College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $23,182
  • Total in-state price: $56,200
  • Total out-of-state price: $56,200
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.25%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.25%

 

47. Randolph College

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,578
  • Total in-state price: $52,350
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,350
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.22%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.22%

 

48. Capital University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $19,398
  • Total in-state price: $47,140
  • Total out-of-state price: $47,140
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 41.15%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 41.15%

 

49. Saint Peter’s University

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $21,476
  • Total in-state price: $52,448
  • Total out-of-state price: $52,448
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 40.95%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 40.95%

 

50. Concordia University—Chicago

 

  • Average merit aid award for a student without need: $12,922
  • Total in-state price: $31,588
  • Total out-of-state price: $31,588
  • Percentage of in-state tuition: 40.91%
  • Percentage of out-of-state tuition: 40.91%

 

How Can You Find the Right College for You?

 

Affordability is an important factor that every student should consider when deciding which college to attend, but there are a lot of others too: location and size of school, majors and extracurriculars offered, and competitiveness or selectivity. It’s important to do your research and create your own criteria for what to look for in a college.

 

Working with a consultation company like CollegeVine can make this process a lot easier for students and parents. We’ve worked with 10,000 students and compiled unmatched data for hundreds of schools. Using our data and tools, we can help you find the right schools for you. Find out if working with our College Applications Program fits your academic needs!

 

Check out some of our other posts on affording college:

 

Parents: 12 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms

What is the Western Undergraduate Exchange? What Schools Participate?

Does the Ivy League Offer Scholarships?

50 Colleges with Full Ride Scholarships

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Gianna Cifredo
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.