Ways to Save Money

Think You Can’t Afford to Go to Princeton or Harvard? Think Again

Updated January 18, 2016
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer
best value colleges

Finally, some good news in the world of rising college tuition!

Last week, U.S. News and World Report released their annual rankings of the best universities in the United States — and along with it, their ranking of the “best value schools.”

The results may surprise you: Many of the schools atop the “best colleges” list are also ranked as “best value schools.”

Say what? Aren’t those fancy universities only for rich people? Nope.

Those prestigious universities have massive endowments that allow them to meet the full financial need of all students — as long as they get in.

What Are the Best Value Universities?

To rank the schools that deliver the most value, U.S. News considered “a school’s academic quality… and the 2014-2015 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid.”

That “cost of attendance” includes tuition, room and board, fees, books, transportation and more — and if you’ve looked at college costs, you know that number can be huge.

“The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” explained the list’s creators.

So, which national universities provide the best value? Here are the top three:

1. Princeton University

Percent of students receiving need-based grants: 58.8

Average cost after receiving grants based on need: $16,868

2. Harvard University

Percent of students receiving need-based grants: 59.2

Average cost after receiving grants based on need: $17,820

3. Yale University

Percent of students receiving need-based grants: 49.8

Average cost after receiving grants based on need: $18,260

We bet you didn’t know more than half of all students at Princeton and Harvard received need-based grants last year, did you?

To keep up, Stanford just announced it’s waiving tuition costs for students whose families earn less than $125,000 per year. For students whose families earn less than $65,000 per year, it will also cover room and board.

It’s Not Just the Ivy League

But don’t fret: Those aren’t the only universities that offer healthy aid packages.

For those of us who didn’t ace our SATs or perform Bach at age four, there are separate lists of “best value” regional schools.

For universities, Gallaudet was number one in the North, Valparaiso in the Midwest, William Carey in the South and Trinity in the West.

For colleges, Cooper Union took the crown in the North, College of the Ozarks in the Midwest, University of the Ozarks in the South, and Carroll in the West.

To see the complete roster of schools, visit the U.S. News website.

The good news: If you or your child has the talent and determination needed to get into one of these top-notch schools, you’ll receive help paying for it.

The bad news: You still have to get in. Study hard, kids!

Your Turn: Do you think these schools provide a good return on your investment?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Connect with her on Twitter: @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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