121: Which Schools Are the Most Generous With Financial Aid? (US Version)

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I’m super excited about this episode as it’s part one of three in a series of incredible resources put together by my beautiful colleagues Jeff Levy and Jennie Kent. The first resource (which is the topic of this podcast that you’re about to hear) is a spreadsheet with a list of over 400 colleges and tells you what their total cost of attendance is, what percentage of financial need they meet--get this--what percentage of students receive merit aid AND what the average merit aid award is. Yeah, kind of nuts. I’m so so grateful to Jeff and Jennie for putting this information together. 

This episode is with Jeff Levy and covers financial aid for students who are applying to college in the US and who are from the US (in other words domestic applicants). The next episode covers how much financial aid is given to students applying from outside the US (in other words international applicants) and that interview is with Jennie Kent, since that’s her specialty. For the third episode I interview both Jeff and Jennie and they share with you perhaps their greatest resource… which I’ll tell you about on that episode.

On this episode Jeff and I discuss this rad resource on which schools are most generous with financial aid and after he shares with us his story, we discuss: 

  • Three huge myths that students and parents have about financially planning for college
  • Why parents should ignore the school’s sticker price
  • Which schools meet 100% of demonstrated need (and what that means)
  • A tool for figuring out how much money schools offer
  • What Jeff believes is the biggest problem with the financial aid process
  • Why Jeff created this resource in the first place and, most importantly…
  • How to use this tool (along with a few other resources) to decide where to attend


Who is Jeff Levy? [3:24]
What working in Hollywood taught Jeff about life [4:32]
How Jeff got into education [5:19]
What Jeff loves about college admissions [7:58]
Jeff busts a huge college admissions myth [9:18]
Why 529 is a good plan for saving for college [11:15]
Why parents should ignore the sticker price of schools [12:20]
How much money Ivy League (and other selective schools) generally give in merit aid [15:10]
An incredibly useful tool for gauging how much aid schools offer [17:41]
What is the Common Data Set? [21:28]
Super helpful information provided by the Common Data Set [22:48]
The #1 problem with the financial aid process according to Jeff [23:33]
How to use Jeff’s spreadsheet and other important resources when deciding where to go [27:20]
How to figure out what your estimated family contribution (EFC) is [31:35]
How the CSS Profile and FAFSA are different [33:18]
Given how much time it took to create this resource (I ask Jeff), was it worth it? Will he and Jennie continue to update it each year? [35:39]
Jeff’s Show and Tell [37:12]
Ethan’s Show and Tell [