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College Rankings

Best College Values, 2015: No-Loan Policies Pay Off

At most no-loan schools, financial aid packages include earnings from a work-study program.

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In 2001, Princeton University announced that students who were accepted would receive 100% of their financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants. Loans were off the table. Since then, about six dozen schools have adopted “no loan” financial aid programs, including the top 10 on our combined list of public and private colleges and universities. Some schools, such as Haverford College, limit their no-loan programs to families who earn less than $60,000 a year. Others, such as Princeton and Yale University, extend the program to all students who receive financial aid.

See Also: Best College Values, 2015

The programs don’t eliminate loans altogether. At most no-loan schools, financial aid packages include earnings from a work-study program. If students decide not to work, they may need to borrow to make up the difference. Some students also borrow to cover costs that aren’t covered by their financial aid packages. In addition, the financial aid package is based on the school’s estimate of what the family can afford to pay. That means some families must borrow to make up the difference.

At Penn, the no-loan policy has enabled the school to enroll students who would have otherwise ruled out an Ivy League education, says University of Pennsylvania provost Vincent Price. “If this school is beyond your means, we will sort it out,” says Price.