Some colleges and universities are doing their part to lessen the student loan burden that many graduates are facing by providing loan-free financial aid packages. No-loan institutions offer financial aid packages that feature a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study aid and other components that allow students to attend without having to worry about graduating with debt.
"No-loan schools are basically telling students of modest or even extremely low income that they should apply if they have the grades and extracurricular [activities] to be considered, and that they don't have to worry about the high price tag as long as they are able to get accepted," Kevin Ladd, chief operating officer and co-creator of Scholarships.com, told U.S. News.
While this does not mean these schools are free to attend, it does mean that these institutions aim to cover each family’s demonstrated financial need -- the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution -- so that loans aren't required to make up the difference.
Last updated: Aug. 12, 2021
On its financial aid website, Amherst states that "we meet 100% of our students’ demonstrated need." And in fact, the majority of its students -- regardless of background -- are able to graduate without student loans. The school states that 75% of Amherst graduates in the class of 2020 graduated with no student loan debt.
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Bowdoin meets the full demonstrated need of every student with grants instead of loans, and nearly half of all enrolled students (48%) receive aid, according to its latest financial aid stats.
Brown's website states that "100% of every student’s demonstrated need is met with an initial package that includes scholarship and work only -- no loans."
Columbia University's financial aid packages meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all first-years and transfers pursuing their first degree and do not include student loans.
"Our need-based aid is in the form of grants and student work only. Loans are not used to meet financial need or included in initial financial aid awards," the university states on its site.
Davidson's trust enables the university to provide no-loan financial aid packages: "Through The Davidson Trust, we meet 100% of your calculated financial need entirely through grants and student employment. Our financial aid packages do not include a loan component, but you have the option of borrowing educational loans as a matter of personal choice," the school states.
Harvard promises that 100% of its students can graduate debt-free.
"The Griffin Financial Aid Office provides need-based aid that allows us to bring the best students to Harvard, regardless of their ability to pay," the university states on its site. "Twenty percent of students pay nothing to attend, and more than half receive need-based scholarships. So, yes — you can afford Harvard."
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT's financial aid packages are based on a student's full need and do not include loans: "Full need means that we meet 100% of your family’s calculated need through scholarships, grants and student employment," the school states.
"For eligible students, the Offer of Financial Aid is composed of grant aid and a modest student employment allotment," the college states on its financial aid site. "While loans are available, Pomona does not use loans to meet a student's financial need."
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"If offered admission, Princeton will meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need with grant aid," the university states on its site.
Families with an income of $65,000 or below qualify for a grant to cover full tuition, residential college fee, room and board.
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"We meet the full demonstrated need, without loans, for every admitted undergrad who qualifies for financial assistance," Stanford states on its website.
Swarthmore meets full need and offers loan-free financial aid, though students must participate in work-study.
"Our financial aid awards consist of grants (which do not need to be repaid) and include the expectation that students will work in a part-time campus-based job," the college states on its site.
Washington and Lee
"Washington and Lee University will meet 100% of the institutionally determined need for all students entirely through grants and student employment. No loans will be included in your financial aid award to meet your calculated need," the school states on its site.
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All schools on this list are sourced from the U.S. News list of schools that meet full financial need with no loans.