The nation's 62 most generous colleges

Stock chart, grey translucent calculator and blue pen. iStockphoto

What are the nation's most generous colleges and universities?

That's a popular question that I hear a lot. It's also a tricky question to answer.

Why? Because whether a college will be generous to a particular family will depend on many factors including how wealthy the teenager is.

Some institutions, for example, only give awards to students who need financial aid to attend college. The Ivy League schools, as well as some others that enjoy excellent college rankings, fit into that category.

If you get into these elite schools, the financial aid packages are tremendous. You shouldn't assume, however, that you need to be low-income or even middle-income to qualify for generous aid packages. In some cases, families can earn $150,000 or $200,000 or more and still qualify for need-based aid.

That brings us back to that original question of what schools provide the best aid packages. No need to guess. U.S. News & World Report has compiled a handy list of the schools that say they meet 100 percent of a student's financial need. Many of the 62 schools on the list assemble financial aid packages without including any loans and you can't get a sweeter deal than that.

It's no surprise that the schools on this list are nearly all highly selective and most can be found on the East or West Coasts. In alphabetical order, here are the top three colleges and universities that made the list:

Amherst College
Barnard College
Bates College
Brown University
California Institute of Technology
Columbia University

Finding the rest of the schools

You can locate the names of the 56 other colleges and universities on US News & World Report's website

What's the Drawback?

If you need financial aid and you get into schools on this list, you have won the educational equivalent of the lottery. Here, however, is the problem: It's difficult to get into these highly selective colleges and universities.

If you are aiming for these schools, you need to make sure that you are the best student you can possibly be and then hope that you are darn lucky.

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