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US colleges and universities with the most students with financial aid


Millions of students across the US are starting or returning to college. As tuition continues to balloon, the finances of higher education are at the top of mind for many of those students.

Student debt and rising costs have financially burdened the millennial generation, and things are likely to continue getting worse. Financial aid from the government, private scholarships, and colleges themselves can go a long way in mitigating those costs.

We took a look at top-ranked schools where a high share of students received federal financial aid.

One of the main sources of financial aid to students comes from the federal government’s Pell Grant program. Pell Grants are intended to make college more accessible to students from families who would not be able to afford ever-rising tuition otherwise. The grants, which can be up to $6,195 per year, are awarded based on a student’s financial need and family situation.

We started by looking at the top 100 national universities and top 100 national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News and World Report 2019 college rankings. Then, we found the share of students at those schools who received Pell Grants in the 2016-2017 academic year, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Department of Education’s College Scorecard database. Many schools and state governments offer additional financial aid to students, but Pell Grants represent a national baseline allowing a comparison of all colleges in the US.

Here are the 20 schools among the top-ranked colleges with the highest share of Pell Grant recipients in the 2016-17 academic year according to College Scorecard, along with their tuition and enrollment in the 2018-19 academic year, as reported by U.S. News:


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