The Princeton Review has released a ranking today of the best colleges for financial aid, stating that these are the schools that are “doling out the most aid to offset the cost of college.” All ten universities featured in the ranking are private schools with, as Jessica Dickler states for The Princeton Review, “sky-high tuition prices, yet their very generous aid packages tell a different story.” Consider us major skeptics of this ranking since they failed to publish their ranking formula other than sharing, “[We] ranked colleges by how much financial aid is awarded and how satisfied students are with their packages. The report is based on data collected from fall 2018 through summer 2019.” But we figured we’d share it with our readers nonetheless.
Bowdoin College Tops Financial Aid Ranking
So which school topped this financial aid ranking? That would be Bowdoin College — a school at which about half of their endowment is devoted to helping students in financial need subsidize their college educations. Vanderbilt University finished in the runner-up position in this particular ranking followed by Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton University, Yale University, Rice University, Grinnell College, Thomas Aquinas College, Vassar College, and Gettysburg College, respectively. Bet you didn’t see some of those schools coming. Thomas Aquinas…who, what? Sorry, Tom!
But in the Absence of an Underlying Formula, the Financial Aid Ranking Defies Reason
But since The Princeton Review didn’t publish the formula behind this particular ranking in this piece by Ms. Dickler, we’ve got lots of questions. But we’ll leave our readers with the biggest question. Harvard University has the largest endowment of any university in all the world. And Harvard University annually gives out lots and lots of financial aid dollars. As the school so reports on its website, “Families with students on scholarship pay an average of $12,000 annually toward the cost of a Harvard education. Fifty-five percent of Harvard College students receive need-based scholarship aid, and the average grant this year is more than $53,000. The Harvard College financial aid program requires no contribution from Harvard families with annual incomes below $65,000; asks from 0 to 10% of income for those with incomes up to $150,000; and expects proportionally more from families with incomes above $150,000.”
So why exactly didn’t Harvard make the cut but Gettysburg College did? Maybe we just happened to miss something. If so, let us know what we missed in the Comments below. Admittedly, we are not financial aid experts. We are college admissions experts. But something about this college ranking, well, doesn’t pass the smell test.