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Top 10 colleges for financial aid

Top 10 colleges for financial aid

With the national student loan debt skyrocketing, financing one's degree can be a scary thought and many students look to higher education institutions for financial aid. Some colleges, however, have made it part of their missions to completely meet financial aid needs. According to U.S. News & World Report, this does not mean these schools are handing out full ride scholarships, rather they are closing the gap between tuition costs and what families can pay. These are the top 10 schools that provide financial aid to need-based applicants:

1. Amherst College: Amherst, Mass.
True to its mission to "bring together the most promising students, whatever their financial need," Amherst offers substantial financial aid packages to help bring down the university's high costs. With tuition and fees at Amherst College totaling $55,510 a year, 60 percent of enrolled students receive an average financial aid package of  $44,031.

2. Amridge University: Montgomery, Ala.
Amridge College provides 85 percent of its students with financial aid to help bring down the already low tuition price tag of $9,261. In addition to being highly affordable, Amridge offers a regionally accredited online program as well as a traditional campus. All of Amridge's degree programs are fully offered online, which is a rarity among traditional colleges.

3. Austin College: Sherman, Texas
The cost of tuition and fees at this small Division III liberal arts college total $32,825 a year. However, about 95 percent of students receive financial aid based on need, greatly reducing the costs. In addition, 90 percent of Austin College's graduates are able to find employment or are accepted into graduate and professional schools, making the cost of the education pay off quickly.

4. Barnard College: New York City, N.Y.
Barnard College is located in Manhattan and has a unique partnership with Columbia University that allows its students to take advantage of courses and activities at both institutions. This Division I all-women's college has a total cost of $43,512 per year with 41.1 percent of students receiving financial aid.

5. Bates College: Lewiston, Maine
At Bates College, nearly half of all students are receiving some kind of financial aid package to offset the tuition and fees of $44,300 a year. The packages awarded to students who demonstrate financial need average about $38,200.

6. Boston College: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Dedicated to helping all students with financial aid needs, Boston College offers 70 percent  of students financial aid to keep costs affordable. Tuition and fees for Boston College are on the higher end at $43,878 a year, however, the financial aid packages average $34,000.

7. Bowdoin College: Brunswick, Maine
Bowdoin College is an extremely selective Division III school and costs $44,818 per year when considering tuition and miscellaneous fees.After being accepted, nearly half of Bowdoin's students receive financial aid packages to help meet their needs.

8. Brown University: Providence, R.I.
As one of the United States' Ivy League schools, Brown University is probably not immediately thought of when looking for affordable colleges, with tuition and fees totaling $43,758 a year. However, 89 percent of students at Brown University receive some kind of need-based financial aid . Considering that the average financial aid package is $40, 209, attending an Ivy League university can potentially be affordable.

9. Bryn Athyn College: Bryn Athyn, Pa.
This small school is already inexpensive to start out, with tuition and fees totaling $16,878 a year. About 95 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid, with award packages averaging about $11,411.

10. Bryn Mawr College: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
At this private women's university, 76 percent of students receive financial aid to help afford the costs of a Bryn Mawr education. Tuition and fees at Bryn Mawr College total $42,246. With a freshman retention rate of 91.5 percent and four-year graduation rate of 82 percent, this Division III school is a good option for women interested in an affordable liberal arts education.

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