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The Most Generous Ivy League Schools for Middle Class Families

December 22, 2018

Though the Ivy League colleges have among the most generous financial aid programs in the country, many parents still ask: which Ivy League school is the cheapest to attend?

The answer depends on your particular financial situation. As we discussed previously, all Ivy League colleges award aid based on the students’ financial need, and not based on particular students’ merits or abilities.

The financial need of the student is the most important factor in how much financial aid the student will be offered. But individual colleges have their own methods of identifying the financial need of their students, and their generosity in giving financial aid also varies.

Fortunately, we have data on what students from different income brackets were paying on average for tuition, supplies, and living expenses after receiving financial aid. This is called the Net Price, and it gives us a metric with which to rank Ivy League colleges’ generosity based on financial aid.

We ranked the Ivy League schools based on the average net price paid by a student whose family makes between $48,000 and $75,000 per year. Here are the rankings:

#8: Cornell University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $15,413

#7: University of Pennsylvania

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $12,968

#6: Brown University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $12,181

#5: Columbia University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $7,648

#4: Yale University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $6,986

#3: Princeton University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $6,224

#2: Dartmouth College

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $6,199

#1: Harvard University

Net Price for Middle-Class Student: $3,392

Here is the full set of data, as reported to the federal government. As you can see, there is considerable variety across the set of colleges. This is explainable by the mix of applicants (within each income range there will be differences in who applies which can impact the averages) as well as by the school’s financial aid formula (for example, how they treat home equity).

Average Net Price for Ivy League Schools, by Household Income























































Source: IPEDS

Note that these are averages of students attending Ivy League institutions, and aren’t necessarily representative of the amount your student would pay to attend such an institution. If you want to know what you would pay, get your financial aid forms in order and consult Edmit, net price calculators, or other resources to get the full picture!