10 Elite Schools Where Middle-Class Students Don’t Pay Tuition


April 3, 2015
by Suada Kolovic
Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all elite institutions, estimated costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. But how? It turns out that healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition (and sometimes also room and board) costs. Check out 10 schools where some students pay little to nothing to attend:

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all elite institutions, estimated costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. But how? It turns out that healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition (and sometimes also room and board) costs. Check out 10 schools where some students pay little to nothing to attend:

  • Princeton University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $43,450
    Policy: Families making less than $54,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making less than $120,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Brown University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,272
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Cornell University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,880
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Columbia University

    Tuition for 2014-15: $51,108
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Duke University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,650
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Harvard University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,278
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Yale University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,600
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Stanford University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,729
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making between $65,000 and $125,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • MIT University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $46,704 (includes mandatory fees)
    Policy: Families making less than $75,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Dartmouth College

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,120
    Policy: Families making less than $100,000 don't pay tuition.
  • With acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent at many of these schools, gaining access to the funding above is fiercely competitive. Do you think it's fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies' steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the ones that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand-name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And don’t forget that even affordable college tuition can still be expensive! Try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search, where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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Discuss

Share your thoughts and perhaps thousands of students will benefit from your unique insight on the subject!



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Joe B  on  8/17/2015 1:44:48 PM commented:

Depends on the degree. Several of them aren't worth the price of the paper they're printed on.

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:12:54 AM commented:

Finally, do you know what phrase refers to paying a child's tuition due to their average increased lifetime income due to having a college degree? The answer is "The Million Dollar Gift."

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:12:07 AM commented:

10) Did you know that immigrants are 3-4 times more likely to become millionaires than native-born citizens? Were you aware that immigrants comprise 41% of the student population of Ivy League schools, yet only comprise 11% of the population in the U.S? Moreover, 55% of PhDs awarded in American colleges go to foreign born (Dr. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering, 2005). If the average immigrant has fewer connections, less education, less understanding of the culture, and may not even speak the language, but can take the opportunity provided in this country and go from nothing to millions at four times the rate of a native citizen, what is their advantage? Oh yea, they haven't learned yet how to scapegoat. Don't worry, their grandchildren will. Do you think immigrants being twice as likely to be Catholic while Americans are twice as likely Protestant plays any part?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:10:42 AM commented:

6) While there is about $1 Billion in athletic scholarships, there's about fifteen times that for academic scholarships... so, why are there so many more movies about athletes winning scholarships than good students? Did you know that most scholarships are NOT based on merit? Does this make ANY sense? Did you know there are scholarships based on lottery, genealogy, left-handedness, and sibling order? Do you think other choices such as who to hire or who becomes our friends should be made the same way? 7) Did you know the free application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA) is required for any federal education aid and should be prepared / updated annually for every high school student? 8) Did you know that you can use acceptance by any of these schools to help negotiate better tuition deals at other schools? Did you know you can negotiate tuition? 9) Did you know college courses can be taken for free at most high schools?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:09:56 AM commented:

5) What should we do about that middle-aged blue-collar Asians are more likely to be able to answer simple Algebra questions than an American college student who just completed an Algebra course as Asians are usually required to answer such questions to graduate Elementary School. Many teachers state they are not good at math (or that math doesn't "like" them). Why do we send our children to schools that hire such incompetent teachers? The problem is kids are not taught to be proficient at Third Grade Math (such as fractions) and nevertheless are expected to handle increasingly more difficult mathematics in following years, impracticable without a Third Grade understanding (similarly, "many leave High School with but a Third Grade vocabulary" – Dr. Beck, Bringing Words Back to Life, 2002). How might we change and finally care about things that actually matter?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:07:55 AM commented:

4) Dr. Barnsley found many decades ago that the best hockey players are five times more likely born in January than November, baseball players are almost twice as likely born in August than July, and soccer players are most likely born in September (now January), due to the arbitrary age cut offs done in the respective kid's leagues. Why is this? Young children born just after the cut off age are quite logically larger than those born just before and so perform better. Kids bigger from being older are called "naturally gifted" and receive the most encouragement and training, what is in reality key for any success. It doesn't seem to matter that the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (2006) makes the rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers "whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming" are nearly always made, not born. Why do teachers still promote the "gifted" myth?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:05:39 AM commented:

After the movie Stand and Deliver about Dr. Escalante came out, the principal was reassigned and Jaime fired. The number of students passing AP exams fell from 450 in 1987 to just 4. The nine teachers and two aids Escalante hired were all fired or forced to quit. In response to their complaints as they were leaving, the incoming replacement principal said, "They're just disgruntled former employees, such backbiting only hurts the kids." John Perex, VP of the Teachers Union, told the press (1990), "Jaime didn't get along with some of the teachers at his school." Jay Mathews, Washington Post columnist and author of The Best Teacher in America asked, "What's up with a system that values working with others more highly than effectiveness?" Joe Williams, Executive Director of the Democrats for Education Reform, wrote "I don't understand why parents are not lighting fires and hurling rocks every night through the Mayor's windows. I'm not joking – it's astonishing." Were you also astonished?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 9:02:42 AM commented:

3) 96% of the students from what used to be one of the worst schools in Harlem were getting into college after acquiring Dr. Lorraine Monroe as principal (who then won the only educational award presented by the U.S. president, the Malcolm Baldrige Award for Excellence in Education). In Marva Collins South Chicago School's first class, all 13 learning disabled, low IQ children (labeled as "unable to read") tested as advancing 4 to 5 years (60 Minutes did an episode about one such student in 1980). Illiterate Fourth graders taught by Ron Clark in Harlem read at above grade in three months. Bronx kids taught by David MacEnulty won the NYC Chess Tournament (and 200 trophies in the top 5 in the nation) every year. And, High School students taught by Jaime Escalante in East LA were more likely to graduate from Ivy League colleges than kids from Hollywood High. How much do we have to pay teachers, do you think, until we can expect similar results at every high school?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 8:59:37 AM commented:

Here may be more important questions to discuss: 1) What should we do about that American High School students can look to the two kids next to them and know that one will not graduate from High School while 96% of students say in Japan will graduate H.S. with an education most Americans don't get until after two years of college (which only 18% of Americans get)? 2) What should we do about that 44% of Singapore's students reach the TIMSS advanced benchmark while only 7% of U.S. students do so, that in no state do half of 8th graders read at level, and that 30% of college freshmen must be put into remedial courses for material they should have learned in high school (Achieve, The Expectations Gap, 2004)? Until American schools are redesigned, declared Microsoft’s Bill Gates at a summit of the nation’s governors, "We will keep limiting, even ruining, the lives of millions of Americans every year."

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 8:58:51 AM commented:

Did you know Bill Gates left Harvard (or was he pushed out?) after it was discovered he was writing commercial software on their PDP-10 mini-computer? He then had to pay for computer time from a company in Boston to finish his Basic complier for Altair in Albuquerque. Do you think it fair that he had to pay for his computer services? Many provide Gates as an example of what is possible without an education but they forget that he came from the harder (and more expensive) Lakeside High School (producing more Jeopardy winners than any other HS) when considering the grade inflation at Harvard (Harvard GPAs - 1890: 2.27, 1950: 2.55, 2004: 3.48 -- 91% of Harvard students graduate with honors). Can parents that refuse to move for a better free high school really be said to love their children?

TucsonJim  on  8/10/2015 8:58:19 AM commented:

Some McDonalds and Wal-Mart stores (and some Apple Stores) are harder to get a cashier job (making an average of $11.83 an hour) than is entrance into these schools. Even many prestigious PUBLIC High Schools are harder to get into than these schools. For example, the High School of American Studies in the Bronx as well as the Queens High School for the Sciences both have an acceptance rate of around 1%. In comparison, Harvard accepted about 7% of applicants in 2011. Moreover, a small number of Ivy students got in simply on their grades and test scores. I had unimpressive grades (including a 485 English SAT – so, totally ignore those that suggest your command of English is all important) but was accepted early decision at an Ivy school based heavily on the interview (my mother was too embarrassed to come with me). Do you think it's fair that those who don't meet the "steep" standards at McDonalds and Wal-Mart should then be saddled with unemployment?

Alice D.  on  7/16/2015 3:49:50 PM commented:

So let's take this one step further since some can pay more for food we should charge the rich person $20 for a gallon of milk and so the poor person only has to pay $.05, right? Why not just reduce the tuition rate across the board so that all pay an equal amount rather than some paying 2 or 3 times as much as the real cost in order to pay for the tuition of others? That seems to be the only fair approach.

Joe B.  on  7/15/2015 3:57:28 PM commented:

So help me understand... The people that work hard, make money, and save it need to pay for those that that don't.... Makes perfect sense... Let's continue to reward mediocrity generation after generation in the good ole USA..... I'd be better off just quitting my job and stay home given the entitlement mentality the US currently has... I'm sure Karl Marx would be happy "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." I'm more in the Margaret Thatcher camp “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”

Deborah V  on  4/19/2015 6:01:59 PM commented:

This would be a real blessing for my financial situation, as not only am I interested in photography, but English and History as well. I just don't think I'm good enough to ever be accepted to any of them even though college has always been my dream.

Anne Marie L.  on  4/19/2015 12:03:22 PM commented:

To Crystal A: It's cute that you're getting straight As in the sixth grade, but you should also note that hundreds of thousands of students (if not millions) are also getting straight As...and they're much older than you are. Now while I applaud you for getting those grades, don't get too excited yet. You're only in the sixth grade; a baby in the eyes of most of us. The work difficulty will increase, I promise you; an advanced class in the sixth grade is not the same as one in the 11th (or even the ninth grade). Basically, my main point here is don't get too proud of your good grades as an eleven year old; focus more on maintaining them by the time you're 17. Most people I know could easily maintain straight As even by the end of their middle school years, so you're nothing special. (I'm just teasing, but you really aren't. ) Also, with regards to your little comment on spelling: you normally spell out numbers under 10 (e.g. two instead of 2). Your usage of big words was cute though.

Anne Marie L.  on  4/19/2015 12:03:18 PM commented:

To Crystal A: It's cute that you're getting straight As in the sixth grade, but you should also note that hundreds of thousands of students (if not millions) are also getting straight As...and they're much older than you are. Now while I applaud you for getting those grades, don't get too excited yet. You're only in the sixth grade; a baby in the eyes of most of us. The work difficulty will increase, I promise you; an advanced class in the sixth grade is not the same as one in the 11th (or even the ninth grade). Basically, my main point here is don't get too proud of your good grades as an eleven year old; focus more on maintaining them by the time you're 17. Most people I know could easily maintain straight As even by the end of their middle school years, so you're nothing special. (I'm just teasing, but you really aren't. ) Also, with regards to your little comment on spelling: you normally spell out numbers under 10 (e.g. two instead of 2). Your usage of big words was cute though.

claudia f  on  4/18/2015 1:19:50 AM commented:

I think it's fantastic that these schools are supying kids with tuition. even though some of these kids are middle class, it doesn't mean they can afford over 40,000 dollars a year. for example, my famy is middle class, but I couldn't afford to go to an Ivy League school because I have to pay for college myself. I'll admit, it's scary to think I have to come up with the money all by myself, but schools like these who pay tuition give me hope that I one day CAN go to college and move on into a successful career. all colleges should supply kids with tuition money if they can't afford it. ever single person has a right to be educated.

Crystal A.  on  4/8/2015 2:34:34 PM commented:

One more comment in response to "Simone B": You might actually have a better chance of getting into college if you learned proper English! Just in the few lines you wrote here, you made 5 typos/spelling errors, 2 run-on sentences, and 1 grammatical error. And I have a feeling the same is true of your college essays. Those who are conscientious about such things are the ones who deserve to get into college. Somehow people like you sometimes make it in anyway, then make their bosses and coworkers miserable with their constant careless mistakes. But you'll probably whine about the unfairness when you get fired too.

Crystal A.  on  4/8/2015 2:25:32 PM commented:

I think this is great! It's a fantastic way to even the playing field, allowing highly intelligent and hard-working students from families with less income to compete in college, and afterwards for jobs. Thanks so much for this article! I feel much better knowing that my son (now in 6th grade and making straight As in honors classes) actually has a chance in this world!

Chris O  on  4/8/2015 12:05:08 PM commented:

What impact if any does family size make on family total income. We have a family of seven, father, mother and five children. Combined income is about $125,000.00

Laurie D.  on  4/8/2015 9:29:20 AM commented:

This is simply NOT true. Based off of financial aid packages I know people are receiving THIS year from these VERY Schools - I know this is not true. These schools are CSS profiles schools and they will include your house, investments and everything else when making financial aid packages. Many of these schools consider a Parent Loan of 35k/year to be meeting the aid for your tuition. Don't be mislead. I know many people not going to these schools because they can't afford the 40k/year bill and their income was below these numbers. Check out the statistics on CollegeConfidential and you'll see what is really going on. It's articles like this that give people the wrong idea of how affordable these places are. Don't always believe what you read on websites even the colleges websites either. It's all marketing so these schools can get a record number of applications.

Jeff E.  on  4/8/2015 8:09:11 AM commented:

This is great news for me; as a married person with no children, I am constantly denied financial aid because our combined income is greater than some very low-income families with many children.

Caroline W  on  4/8/2015 12:43:06 AM commented:

I feel like the fact that both my husband and I work is a sin! We do make more than 120k but we support my mom, just made a down payment 3 years ago! I wish there would be more help for middle class families

Mark R.  on  4/7/2015 10:49:03 PM commented:

Not only is this fair it is a fortunate thing that the best schools can draw from the best students without regard to financial ability. However, the real shame is that we as a nation do not value higher education enough to make it available to all that are qualified to pursue it. My daughters regularly talk with students from Europe and elsewhere that are stunned to learn that going to college here is tied as much or more to family financial capability as it is to academic capability. I wish my daughters were Ivy league level and could obtain such an incredible education at such an affordable price. However, I certainly do not begrudge those that are. Good for them and I wish them well. I also hope they remember the largess they were privileged to receive when they reach a position to be able to help someone else less fortunate.

Just sayin  on  4/7/2015 10:46:41 PM commented:

If they busted their butts for 12 years to be as smart as they are now, but can't afford to attend a school that would foster more academic growth, why not let them in? These people are our innovators and great minds, blah blah. Go for it, is what I say.

Simone B  on  4/7/2015 10:00:40 PM commented:

Acceptance rates are ridiculous to ivy league school. Aand when you think about it what makes a school an Ivy League? I'm a freshman in high school and have already begun to be bombarded with pamphlets and information from colleges. Tehy try to attract as many as possible just to turn 90%-95% of you away. I'm the daughter of a single mom and I'm an only child it's hard enough to pay high school registration as it is and I feel that education in America should definetley be made more affordable as it's already free in many other countries. People are aways telling you get your education but it's not that simple. Many people are deciding what activities to partake in high school just for their dream college. Make sure that you don't apply to a college just because of it's name it's you career the rest of your life and you shouldn't crippled with student loans or the saddening realization that scholarships and grants just won't cover the tuition of your dream college.

Chris J  on  4/7/2015 9:21:29 PM commented:

I think it is a great policy adopted by these institutes. The smartest people aren't the richest. So if a young person has put in the work and dedication to get accepted into one of these schools then they earned every penny of the cost it takes to give them the best. It should be adopted everywhere not just the "Brand Name" colleges that these were called.

Diane A.  on  4/7/2015 9:14:07 PM commented:

I Think more should be done to help those students who work hard in high school and really prove their commitment to their education. They should be able to attend the colleges they are accepted to without the huge debt! Although I earn a decent salary, I cannot afford a $40,000 a year tuition for my son; especially with two other children. Therefore, he will graduate with a huge debt! It's so upsetting to me!

Ellie A.  on  4/7/2015 8:20:01 PM commented:

Ionly make 10k and my.husband makes 88k, with four children within 5 years of each other, we still cannot afford to pay for their college...how about just making college less expensive!!! Take into factor that we have living expensive, home improvements, insurance, utility, etc....not just the amount we EARN.

Terry P.  on  4/7/2015 5:39:55 PM commented:

Living in the Tri state area has a much higher cost of living than most of the United States. A family of 5 making less than $60,000/yr would be well below middle class. Schools should take this into consideration when making Financial Aid offers.

Christine D.  on  4/7/2015 5:09:41 PM commented:

I don't think anyone should be "saddled with crippling debt." The cost of a university education in the U.S. is ridiculously high. That said, I believe that academic achievement should be an important factor in receiving aid to obtain a college education. I was an honor student throughout high school but couldn't get any help in going to college (this was before Pell Grants--or at least no one (i.e. my high school counselor nor college financial aid personnel) told me anything about them. When I got my undergraduate degree, I worked and took 15 credit hours a semester. I was on the Dean's List every semester and was inducted into five academic honor societies. I graduated summa cum laude with two B.A.s. I have used my degree to teach others. When I decided to pursue a Master's degree, I got told the only financial aid I could get was federal loans, so I am now racking up "crippling debt." Shouldn't my past academic performance be rewarded with SOME "free" financial aid?

Caitlin P.  on  4/7/2015 4:02:52 PM commented:

Families who make 60,000 is no longer middle class in NYC. One person in the household needs to be at least making that to be comfortable.

Benjamin H  on  4/6/2015 7:58:52 AM commented:

I believe income level of families needs to be based on expendable income, and how many kids are in the home. For instance, I make 108k a year, but we have 9 children, 4 of whom have been adopted. We have less expendable educational funds for our children, then someone with once child, making $50K per year.

OGHENETEGA VENESSA ORTAVER  on  4/5/2015 4:31:38 PM commented:

Its gives great hope to people like me from africa- who have obtained a (GCE O' LEVEL RESULT)West Africa Certificate O'Level Examination Result for six years now and can,t still afford to attend a university for a degree course.

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