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What Does it Mean When a School Covers 100% of Need?

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Going to college is expensive - or at least it can be. To combat this, there are some schools that claim to cover 100% of financial need for every student. But, what does that mean?


Figuring Out How Much You Can Pay

A guarantee of full coverage refers to a plan, designed by the school, to pay for the costs that you and your family cannot pay. First, a school must know how much you can pay.


In filling out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, you will be asked many questions about your family’s financial situation. From these answers, the applications will determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount of money that your family will be expected to contribute to the Cost of Attendance (COA).


For each school to which you are accepted, the EFC will be subtracted from the COA to determine your financial need -- or, how much you will need in order to afford that college.


Institutions that claim to cover 100% of financial need are referring to your need, not the total COA - meaning you’ll still be responsible for that family contribution. The school will find ways to cover the remaining financial need determined by the FAFSA or CSS Profile.


For more information about how aid is calculated, read this Edmit article.


How the Cost Will Be Covered

Again, covering 100% of your financial need does not necessarily mean that colleges will just give you that dollar amount to pay for your education.


Aid coverage can come in many forms: grants, scholarships, loans, and work study.


Grants and scholarships are the best form of financial aid. This is money that you receive for college and never have to pay back. The more money you get in grants and scholarships, the less you will have to pay for your education over time. Many schools automatically consider accepted students for school-specific scholarships, but always check to see if there are any scholarships available at the schools you want to attend for which you have to apply. Learn more here.


Some schools are extremely generous and aim to cover student financial need without them having to take out loans. Amherst College, University of Chicago and Pomona College are a few of these schools.


For the vast majority of schools though, if you have a relatively large financial need, loans will be factored into financial aid packages. These will be federal loans, which have better repayment plans and lower interest rates than private loans. If a school offers 100% need coverage and your family can actually cover the calculated EFC, you should not have to take out private loans to cover the cost of this education.


A final way that need can be covered is through work study. This is a predetermined amount that a student will be expected to pay through working at a school job.


All of these types of financial aid will be presented in the financial aid package. Here, you will be able to see how all of this aid money will add up to cover the cost of college.


Get Started!

Looking for a list of every school in the United States that covers 100% of financial need? We’ve got you covered.


Some of those on the list even cover with a no-loan guarantee.


Contact your admissions or financial aid office for more information on specific costs of attendance and financial aid offers.

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