The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice overview of the various financial aid policies at the wealthiest schools in the US. Something many people don’t realize is that most of the richest US colleges and universities offer very generous financial aid plans to ensure that students who are accepted can afford to attend. The $50-$60,000 sticker price is really a ceiling on how much can be required and not the real out-of-pocket cost of attendance. In fact, with rapidly increasing tuition and fees at public institutions, these schools are often more affordable than students’ local state universities.
Most of the schools they look at have need-blind admissions (i.e. don’t consider ability to pay in admissions) and also guarantee to cover what they deem as the full need (total amount of money a family needs in order to afford college). This graphic goes over various fine print issues in these policies, such as who is covered by need-blind admissions, who is eligible to receive full need-based aid, and also how much students are expected to contribute from earnings during college.
The article doesn’t go into things like specifics of how much students’ families can expect to pay, but it does offer a lot of information that people wouldn’t necessarily think about when they look at the differing financial aid policies.