The Ivy League & Financial Aid: The Ultimate Guide to All of Your Questions

October 15, 2022
By AdmissionSight

The Ivy League & Financial Aid: The Ultimate Guide to All of Your Questions

For students who have the goal of one day attending one of the eight Ivy League schools, a big concern can be how in the world they would pay for tuition and living costs if they got in. After all, there is no doubt that the Ivy League is home to some of the most expensive schools in the world. That isn’t just because of tuition costs, either. Living costs everywhere are going up, and because some of the Ivies are located in cities, that can provide a major financial hurdle as well. For that reason, you may find yourself wondering what kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer or how much financial aid do Ivy Leagues give.

If that is the case, you will be happy to know that Ivy League schools don’t only offer financial aid, many of the schools in the elite group give some of the most financial aid to accepted students in the entire country.

Two students studying in a desk.

After all, the admissions officers at school like Harvard, Columbia and Yale are interested in opening their doors to the most committed and intelligent students in the world, no matter where they come from, what their socio-economic background is and how much financial aid they need to gain a top-level education without having to take on mountains of student loan debt.

At AdmissionSight, our goals are not just to help the high school (and transfer) students that we work with get into the schools of their dreams, our goals also have to do with helping set our students up for success now and far into the future. For a lot of our students, that means getting help when it comes to finding the best avenues to secure financial aid, filling out financial aid applications and much more.

So, if you have the dreams of one attending an Ivy League school but are worried about how the financial reality of attending such a school may serve as a barrier, then you have absolutely come to the right place.

Thanks to the experience that our admissions consultants have in the industry, 75.0 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into either an Ivy League program or a school that is not one of the Ivies but is still a top 10 school like MIT or Stanford. And many of the students that we work with end up pursuing financial aid from these top schools as well.

For that reason, we wanted to spend some time breaking down the current trends related to financial aid.

What types of financial aid are there?

Before we get into what kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer specifically, specifically, we wanted to first go over the different kinds of sources of funds that students pursue when they are looking for ways to afford colleges and universities in the United States.

As many already know, schools in the United States have gotten more and more expensive over the years. While even the best schools used to be just a couple of thousands dollars a year, and students were able to easily pay for their tuition with a part-time job, school tuition now more closely resembles the cost of home mortgages. It’s become a barrier for a lot of students all over the country and the rest of the world.

Three students walking in the school campus.

There are many different kinds of financial aid that students can pursue. It is important to know the difference between each of these options because they can come with very different pros and cons.

Let’s break them all down together.

Federal financial aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary route that students go through every application cycle when it comes to students getting financial aid. While the aid that students get as a result is a popular form of financial aid, it is crucial for students to know that some of the money they can get through this aid is styled as a loan. That means that for some students, their financial aid will have to be paid back. For other students, the money is free, and for other students, they are given the chance to take part in a work-study, which basically offers them a job on campus and helps them pay for their schooling in that way.

While this is a popular form of financial aid, average amounts come out to approximately $9,000 per student. That isn’t going to put much of a dent in the average Ivy League tuition these days, which comes out to approximately $56,750 per year these days.

State financial aid

Some states have separate financial aid programs, and all states offer reduced tuition for in-state students attending state-funded universities. State aid has much more variance than federal aid, and what opportunities are available to you depend entirely on your state of residence.

Of note here is that many states have been cutting funding to public universities, causing those universities to increase tuition rates in order to remain solvent. While some states are trying to reverse this trend, others are not. While public universities generally remain far less expensive than their private counterparts, the gap is narrowing.

So, how do Ivy League schools determine financial aid? One of the most important things to know as it relates to this question is that all eight of the Ivies are “need-blind,” as they put it. What this means is that in no part during the application

Student loans

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are good that you have heard about student loans. These are government loans that are guaranteed for students by the government. That can seem like a great thing, as students can gain access to the money that they need to attend the school that they want to go to. On top of that, students do not need to begin repaying the loans until they finish their education.

However, that is basically where the good news ends. These loans do come with interest rates and, unlike other loans, they cannot be written off in the case of bankruptcy. For that reason, millions of Americans have been saddled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt over the last few decades. By this point, it is generally advised that students do not take out these kinds of loans unless they are planning on pursuing a field of study that can yield higher income jobs such as a STEM major or business.

Aid directly from colleges

Last but not least, we wanted to cover the need-based or merit-based scholarships that come directly from schools and their large endowments.

Merit-based scholarships are offered by a lot of schools, and can offer students what is known as a “full ride.” Basically, merit-based aid is given to students who a given school deems so impressive that it is willing to spend money to have that student attend. Many of the schools that offer these merit-based scholarships are some of the biggest public schools in the country, such as:

  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at San Diego
  • University of Colorado
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin
  • And many more!

As you may have noticed, however, none of the Ivy League schools are on that list. The reason? Ivy League schools only offer need-based financial aid to students. After all, every single student that is offered a spot at an Ivy League school arguably deserves financial aid based on merit. When it comes to the question, what kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer? The answer is financial aid for students who truly need it to make their Ivy League dreams come true.

One thing that the Ivy League is very proud of is that each school makes it a priority to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need.

What kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer?

If you know that you want to one day attend an Ivy League school, but also know that you are going to likely need a fair amount of financial aid, then you may be asking the questions “What kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer?” and “How much financial aid do Ivy Leagues give?” After all, the percentage of students that end up getting need-based financial aid, and the average amount that those students get, could play a rather large role in where you choose to apply and ultimately attend!

Though exact statistics of the most recent years are hard to equate, as not all of the information is easy to come by, we have been able to find all the most related information from the academic year. Since that is just a few years ago, the reality is that these numbers are likely still very accurate to the current trends at the Ivy Leagues.

If you want to know what kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer, take a look at the main numbers as they relate to how much financial aid each Ivy League school offered in that school year:

All Undergraduate Financial Aid Statistics Between Colleges In Ivy League
Name Number Receiving Aid Percent Receiving Aid Average Amount
Yale University 3,440 56% $58,244
Harvard University 4,260 42% $52,257
Dartmouth College 2,338 52% $47,411
Princeton University 3,305 61% $56,126
Columbia University in the City of New York 4,869 59% $45,881
Cornell University 7,051 47% $49,149
University of Pennsylvania 6,009 51% $44,232
Brown University 3,308 46% $47,590
Average 4,323 51.75% $50,111

As you can see, every Ivy League school offers ample financial aid to the students that end up getting in and attending each school. However, these final numbers tell just one part of the story.

After all, though those are certainly high numbers in terms of the average amount of aid given out, the actual cost of attending an Ivy League school is quite a bit higher when the cost of attendance and fees are also considered. Here is a table to show the difference between tuition and the total cost of attending an Ivy League school. A table with information about different universities.

As you can see, the estimated total cost at these schools can be almost double that of just the tuition on its own. This is absolutely something a lot of students need to keep in mind and it’s part of the reason why so many students apply for aid no matter which Ivy League they end up wanting to go to.

When it comes to which schools got the most financial aid applications, here is a graph that clearly shows what percentage of students who applied also applied to financial aid. As you will see, the rates vary widely from as low as 49 percent for Brown University and as high as 65 percent for Princeton University.

Bar graph with information on financial aid for students.

Perhaps even more interesting, we’ve also found a graph that shows the rate of change of percentage of students that applied for financial aid over time from the early 2000s to 2020. It is interesting to note that some schools have seen massive fluctuations, while others have seen steady and consistent growth, and other schools have seen a general stasis when it comes to financial aid applications. Take a look, below:

A table with information about financial aid. How to apply for financial aid at an Ivy League school?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer?” and even know the answer to the question, “Which Ivy gives the most financial aid?” You may be wondering what it is that students actually have to do in order to apply for that need-based financial aid that the eight Ivy League schools love giving out to students that have been accepted to the school.

While each of the ivy League schools have somewhat different practices when it comes to how they field and decide upon need-based financial aid benefits, the information that they need tends to be the same from one school to the next.

For that reason, we thought the easiest way to take care of this would be to offer what Harvard has to say about its process:

“The financial aid application process is essentially the same for all students – regardless of nationality or citizenship,” the school says. “You will be asked to provide information about your family income and assets, outside awards, and any unusual or changed financial circumstances. Our financial aid officers work closely with you to determine your demonstrated need and your family’s expected contribution. Once we have reviewed your information and determined your demonstrated need, you will be notified of your award for the coming year.”

From this alone, it should be clear that the Ivy League makes it a priority to ensure that the students that deserve to get into a school like Yale, Princeton or Harvard do not have to end up settling for anything less simply because they are worried about how they are going to foot the bill. It is one of the prime benefits of the eight Ivies having such massive endowment funds that they can dip into to help make the dreams of attending an Ivy League school come true for thousands of students every school year.

Ivy League financial aid

Based on the current trends that we have seen over the last few years, there is a clear indication that more students than ever are currently applying to Ivy League schools. There are a lot of different reasons for that, but one of the primary reasons is that these schools are looking to improve and increase the diversity of their student body and alumni base by making an Ivy League education less of a financial hurdle to jump over than ever before. Though these schools are certainly the elite of the elite, that does not mean that only a tiny percentage of the popular who can afford attending such a school should be the only kinds of students lucky enough to enroll.

That’s why knowing what kind of financial aid do Ivy League schools offer is so important. It can remind you that even if you may not be able to afford the massive bill that comes with attending an Ivy League, the schools themselves are willing and able to help you.

So, if you are a committed high school student with dreams of attending Brown or Columbia or Cornell, don’t let the concern that you might be able to afford the school get in the way of you applying.

If you are curious about ways to ensure that you get into your dream school and receive the need-based aid that you require to enroll, contact AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation to learn more.


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