You Can Afford Ivy League, But Not Without These Tools

Article-Photos203Got the grades to get into your dream school, but think you can’t afford tuition? It may be time to think again. Research shows many talented students have been kept in the dark about their funding options and the real cost of attending an elite school.

If you’re unsure where your financial situation stands, explore these three price-determining resources before crossing any elite schools off your list.

1. Net Price Calculators

Rule of thumb: Never believe a school’s published sticker price. Once aid has been granted, many private schools actually cost less than their public counterparts, but low-income students fail to research it further, unaware of the hefty endowments that allow top schools to award generous financial aid packages. As you research, head straight for the Net Price Calculator that all college websites are required to house, and get a more realistic picture of what you’ll actually pay.

2. College Scholarship Search (CSS) Profile

The CSS Profile is designed to give selective schools a closer look into an applicant’s eligibility for institutional funds—as opposed to federal funding eligibility, which the FAFSA still determines. The profile is primarily used by selective schools and those that offer early acceptance programs since, unlike the FAFSA, it can be filed as early as October 1. Check the list of participating member-schools to find out if you’ll need to complete this form.

3. Education Charities

Low-income students make up a much larger percentage of the student pool than previously thought—as many as 35,000 current students fall into that category. That’s the motivating cause behind online aggregators like A quick search can uncover a range of funds dedicated to helping low-income students connect to highly selective institutions.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.


  1. Kym Godwin

    This is SO true!! My son will graduate from Penn in May…and almost all has been covered by grants and scholarships! They want the highest achieving, most diverse, and very dynamic students to fill their classes and they have the endowments to help pay the bill. I’m a single parent who is a teacher with zero help from his father. Penn has been such a blessing! He has had an amazing education and the social experiences have been out-of-this-world too…and you can’t beat the networking!

  2. Judy

    This is all great advice. But not great, for the vast middle income people. My kid did have to give up on select schools because she was given not aid from them. We decided on a state school. Otherwise she would have had huge loans. Yes, select school can be less money for needy students. But those students with parents making maybe over $100,000.00 are few and far between giving out scholarships and grants.

  3. Sally

    RE: They want the highest achieving, most diverse, and very dynamic students to fill their classes and they have the endowments to help pay the bill.

    This is not totally true. Diversity goes beyond economic circumstances. With the push to help “poor” students, the middle class is once again being squeezed out!.

    I’m middle class, can’t get Fin Assistance but I can’t write a check for $60K + a year. I think they should stop giving away these grants and lower the prices to make the cost more affordable to all.

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