10 Colleges With the Best Financial Aid for Middle Class

Colleges With the Best Financial Aid for Middle Class - featured image

Reviewed By: Melissa AndersonMS.Ed. / First covered: December 2023 / Reading level: Grade 10

Key Takeaways:

  • Caltech and Bates College are tops in our roundup.
  • Financial aid is crucial for middle-class students to afford college tuition and pursue their dream courses.
  • Various types of financial aid are available at colleges and universities to cater to different learners’ needs.

Everyone deserves a college education. Unfortunately, a primary hindrance to pursuing higher education is the costs associated with it. The good news is there is financial aid that’s fit for everyone, including those who are part of the middle class.

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Colleges With the Best Financial Aid for Middle Class - fact

A possible hindrance to attaining your college dreams is budget. Often, when the tuition fee of the program is too expensive, some students back down and go for a plan that they can truly afford. Due to their inability to afford college fees, lower-to-middle-class people may choose courses and colleges that are not their preferred choices. 

Even so, students are able to pursue rewarding careers and pursue their dream courses with the help of financial aid at many colleges and universities today. Fortunately, these days, diverse kinds of financial aid are made available to fit any kind of learner with needs.

Helping Middle-Class Students Afford College

College education is something that is not easy to afford. After all, you will have to continue learning for 2 to 5 years, depending on whether you enroll in an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. The average middle-class family doesn’t make nearly enough money to cover all the costs of college tuition. All the more if families come with more members who need to go to college all at the same time. This is when need-based financial aid comes into play. Fortunately, it is widely available to the majority of students.

Thousands of middle-class students go to college without paying anything near the “sticker price.” The expense of higher education has increased over the past 20 years at an astounding rate, according to published tuition figures on respective school websites. For the 2022–2023 academic year, the average in-state tuition and fees for college was $9,678. However, it’s important to consider that there could be other hidden costs and fees that college students should anticipate.

Even with discounts, education costs are still high. It can still be quite difficult to come up with the entire tuition for a complete four years of private education. Remember that the tuition amount only includes tuition and fees. It does not include lodging or meals. Grants and other forms of financial aid often do not suffice to cover the cost of college. Unfortunately, some financial aid isn’t available for parents’ income ranges because they’re not low enough to pass for need-based support. Middle-class people can sometimes fall between the cracks.

Families from the middle class sometimes feel like they’re in the gray zone when it comes to college funding. They may make too much money to be eligible for all of the need-based aid but not enough to cover the entire cost of education. Understanding how and when universities grant financial assistance can help make the most of your reward. First, select schools that give out more need- or merit-based aid by using the Common Data Set. Make sure to fill out the FAFSA every year. Be sure to also search for non-FAFSA scholarships from state and private organizations.

Colleges With the Best Financial Aid for Middle Class

1. California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California


Caltech may provide a financial assistance package to cover all of your demonstrated financial needs. Among these are financial aid options perfect for middle-class students. A typical package will include:

  • student loans
  • student jobs
  • grants
  • scholarships

The vast bulk of funding comes in the shape of scholarships and grants. The cost of attending Caltech can be covered by financial aid available to all students. The three primary financial aid available are:

  • work-study
  • loans
  • grants
  • scholarships.

2. Bates College

Lewiston, Maine


Bates College provides need-based financial aid to qualified students. This is part of its commitment to make this educational opportunity accessible and affordable for all accepted students, regardless of family financial situation. The ethical vision that drove the college’s founders is reflected in Bates’ dedication to providing their community with an inclusive education. Thus, they can produce future leaders and problem-solvers who emerge from all backgrounds. Each year, they give their students grants totaling over $40 million.

3. Washington University

Saint Louis, Missouri


At Washington University, families of students whose annual income is less than USD 75,000 will get full financial aid like:

  • grants
  • work-study opportunities
  • scholarships

This makes it fit for middle-class families or students. Assistance is also available to university-based research students for the duration of their study. However, they don’t offer student loans. Also, the amount of financial aid they award does not take into account home equity. All of their financial aid offerings are geared toward helping students avoid debt after graduation. 

4. Middlebury College

Middlebury, Vermont


Middlebury College comes with Student Financial Services, where middle-class students can ask for support. They have financial advisors who can help strategize payment plans for tuition fees. Middlebury is one of the few universities in the nation that meets the complete proven need for financial aid of every admitted student. At the same time it has a need-blind admissions policy. If you are accepted, they will continue to work with you and your family to ensure that you can afford Middlebury. For domestic students, your capacity to pay is not taken into account at the time of application. Overall, they seek to ensure that students can continue to afford education at Middlebury. 

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts


MIT wants to assist you in making the best decision for your family. The school’s financial aid department administers MIT’s need-based financial aid program and arranges for outside funding to be received. The department works hard to give every one of their students and their families customer service that is:

  • accurate
  • amiable
  • prompt

The MIT Scholarship is the most popular kind of assistance. It’s a grant that requires no repayment. MIT endowment, alumni, and friends’ gifts, as well as the general fund, are used to fund their scholarships. The amount of MIT Scholarships awarded to undergraduate students is approximately 58%. 

6. Williams College

Williamstown, Massachusetts


Williams College offers one of the best financial assistance packages in the nation, so you may choose wisely for your education without having to take on a significant debt. Williams fully satisfies all proven needs. No loans or work-study requirements are required. Furthermore, it is one of the few universities in the nation that ensures all students seeking financial help will receive free textbooks and course materials. The school takes into account a variety of financial conditions that families may face, including:

  • income
  • assets
  • family size

7. Hamilton College

Clinton, New York


At Hamilton College, the goal is to make sure that investing in a Hamilton education is both worthwhile and reasonably priced. They work hard to make sure that the cost of your education will be reasonable and worthwhile. For the whole four years enrollment, Hamilton provides for every student’s fully documented financial need. Therefore, middle-class students can gain financial aid options that are fit for them. The school can provide you with financial assistance awards to help you cover the remaining costs if your family is only able to pay a part of the:

  • tuition
  • lodging
  • board
  • fees.

8. Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire


Dartmouth College offers financial aid options to any kind of learner by assessing the family’s financial capacity and considering the total cost of the education. During the application process the school also helps determine how much your family can contribute. Whether their income falls into the ranges for middle-class families, there will be a fair computation of how much of the education will be supported. Families can estimate their financial aid eligibility using the school’s Net Price Calculator. Dartmouth meets 100% of your demonstrated need through such financial aid resources as:

  • scholarships
  • grants
  • student employment

9. Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island


Brown University pays for all students’ proven financial needs. The school disregards loans and focuses more on providing scholarship grants. Their newest programs and the Brown Promise make Brown more accessible to families and students from all backgrounds, even for middle-class students. According to Brown, in order to address important global challenges, undergraduate education must represent a range of:

  • perspectives
  • experiences
  • backgrounds

The school’s admissions process is need-blind. This means that an applicant’s inability to pay for tuition does not influence its decision to admit them. 

10. Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York


Situated in New York, Vassar College is well-known for its liberal arts curriculum. It provides students with 60% of necessary financial aid. Additionally, it offers all of its students’ need-based financial assistance. For those who are middle-class families within their income range requirement, the school will offer:

  • scholarships
  • work-study
  • loans
  • grants

Loan repayment will not be required for families with inadequate income. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can students fund their college expenses?

After deciding to pursue higher education, a common predicament is how to pay for college. After all, a college education entails a hefty price tag, including

  • lodging
  • books
  • other expenses

Fortunately, there are many ways to fund your college fees. For one, you can set up a college savings account to save money. As early as high school or even before, you may start saving up for your future. Another way is to look for financial aid options in your preferred university or college. Scholarship programs are commonly being offered these days based on:

  • needs
  • merits
  • other qualifications

As another way to save, you may also look for colleges offering free laptops.

How does financial aid help middle-class families?

You don’t need to come from a very wealthy household to be able to attend a prestigious university. Sometimes, being middle class is sufficient. The bad news is that some universities or colleges limit their financial help for middle-earners. However, by researching and selecting the right programs, some schools come with financial aid that is fit for all kinds of learners and their families. It is important to keep in mind that most families cannot afford to spend an average of $40,000 per year for college. Getting some funding for college allows the student to avoid student debt in the future. 

What is the most ideal type of financial aid?

The best kind of financial aid depends on the preferences of the student and their families. However, the most sought-after types of financial help are grants and scholarships. They provide free money, sometimes with no conditions. Certain grants and scholarships are automatically added to your student account. This is common with school-based and government aid.


  • Education Data Initiative