LAC's with merit - is there a list somewhere?

I am on kid #4, so I should know what I am doing. But of course like the other 3 she probably going down a different path than her predecessors. I have one at a big essentially open admissions state school, 1 at a full need met LAC, and a recruited athlete.

#4 currently interested in a smaller LAC, but not necessarily a super competitive one.

Is there a resource that shows what kind of scholarships are available at different schools? Or is it a bit of hunting on each of their websites and maybe calling each of the financial aid offices?

For example, I can see on Lewis & Clark’s website that there are up to 5 full tuition scholarships. But there are also 4 other levels of merit scholarships. I can’t seem to find anything regarding the number awarded, the typical requirements, or most importantly the amounts.

I am early with her, so I’m not too stressed about getting this figured out right away. But I’m trying to prepare myself for what kind of cost I am looking at, and prepare her for what she needs to do (i.e. if you want to go to X school, you will probably need a 3.8 GPA and a 30+ on your ACT to qualify for a scholarship that makes it affordable). Or for that matter, if the school either doesn’t offer scholarships at all or they are very hard to come by, I’d rather know that now before she gets excited about the possiblity of attending.

Some may offer merit to those with need.
May depend on whether the college uses CSS Profile, or strictly FAFSA.
Try Colleges that Change Lives

University of Richmond, Washington & Lee come to mind.
Money magazine has a list merit , not limited to LACs.

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I don’t think a list exists because merit at LACs isn’t clearly defined. Son2 applied to a range of LACs, but only true financial safeties were in-state schools.

He applied to 10 schools expecting them to be affordable with merit, but no guarantee. He had 5 or 6 (maybe more) affordable choices at the end. He applied to as many EA schools as possible. I checked common data set for % of students receiving test scored, applied to Midwest LACs because they are known to be more generous with merit. Also, added 2 full need LACs. Lastly, showed interest, visited and interviewed where ever possible.

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I have found the websites less than helpful. At the school where D is going, there is a fairly detailed list of merit scholarships and amounts, which was helpful, even though the scholarship she ultimately received wasn’t listed anywhere!

We also used this resource when D21 was looking at LACs, which is the most comprehensive I’ve seen: Resources — BigJ Educational Consulting. Even though it doesn’t break down specific scholarships at each school, it does give you an idea of where to research more. I downloaded it as a Google doc and deleted the ones we weren’t considering. Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based and Merit Aid (August 2020) - Google Sheets


Look at Denison in Ohio. They do offer decent merit aid. You might also want to check Miami (ohio). It’s not a LAC but it’s a great public university that has an LAC feel to it.

This list is not specifically for LACs, so you’ll have to pick the colleges you’re interested in off the list. It is organized geographically.

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You can use this data set to see average net price by school by income ranges. If you choose baccalaureate only schools that will give you the LACs. The net prices will include need based aid too, but at the higher income levels (especially at less selective schools) a greater proportion of the discounting will be non-need based.

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We got great merit at Denison, Wooster, Susquehanna and Ursinus. I’ve also heard good things about Puget Sound, Knox, Center, Beloit, Kalamazoo, Furman, St Lawrence.

Merit got net costs down to $30-35k… but for lower than that we had to go to the auto merit schools (Alabama, Miami OH, Arizona) and competitive merit at South Carolina.

Alabama has the residential Blount Liberal Arts Program, which gave my eldest a LAC vibe and approach with all the add ons of a big flagship (business school, sorority, football, gazillions of opportunities and wide range of people)


I think to see - who offers full vs. just merit - or how many - you probably have to dig at each college.

You can probably start at US News after #20 - and there may be more that are need only. But #9 W&L, for example, awards 10% of the class the Johnson Scholarship - so there’s probably some excepts.

But as you get into the 30s and 40s and below, most (not all) will likely offer merit. Just google the school and merit - and it will take you to the scholarship page where you can then get more info.

2021 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges | US News Rankings

Good luck.

Trinity College and Connecticut College are the only NESCAC LACs that offer merit aid.

You all have given me some good starting points, thank you.

It seems like there should be some kind of resource for this. I may create one. :grinning:

Actually what I will probably do is create a spreadsheet, but with some glaring holes based on my D’s interests.


We were given a list of colleges that give merit (as reported by families) by our high school guidance counselor. We focused on Midwestern LACs, and our daughter got merit aid from all of those she applied to: Grinnell, Kenyon, Macalester, Oberlin, St Olaf and Knox. We checked individual colleges’ websites for the general information to see if merit is available or not. I’m not aware of a comprehensive list.

Trinity University in San Antonio also offers good merit to high stats applicants. When our S19 was looking at colleges, at first I wasn’t even aware of merit scholarships (we live overseas and I was really out of touch with the whole US admissions process). I first read about merit money on here and then ran some NPCs for schools he was interested in. In many cases, the possibility of merit money will show up there. There is also a classic CC thread on the topic here: Looking for advice in Merit aid for a top 1% student

I posted the following a few years ago in a similar thread (couldn’t figure out how to reference the thread, so just had to cut and paste - looks like the link didn’t paste too well - search for “Kiplinger’s best 300 value colleges”. Looks like Kiplinger now has its data behind a paywall but for a while it was an extremely useful almost comprehensive list that provided both percentage of students receiving non-need based aid and average amounts of that non need based aid for hundreds of institutions. Taking those two data points together allows one to identify almost all institutions offering reasonable chances of substantial merit.

Btw, I second Trinity as offering good merit aid, based on first hand experience - notice my avatar :grinning:


I have found this list from Kiplinger very helpful in assessing merit aid possibilities. It is sortable. Focus on both the column showing percentage of students receiving non-need-based aid and the column showing average amount of that aid.


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Allegheny in Western Pa is aggressive as is Hendrix in Conway Ark. They have a program where they match the tuition of your state flagship.

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Here are some links that might be of use:

Hendrix College (Conway, AR) – Scholarships | Hendrix College
Paying for Hendrix: Financial Aid & Scholarships | Hendrix College

Knox College (Galesburg, IL) –

Centre College (Danville, KY) –

Clark University (Worcester, MA) –

St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY) –

Salem College (Winston-Salem, NC) –

Agnes Scott College (Atlanta, GA) –

Rollins College (Winter Park, FL) –

Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) –

Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX) –

Carthage College (Kenosha, WI) –



Search for BigJEducational Consulting - the two principals put together a list and post for all to see on their website under resources. Not just LACs, but a comprehensive list of schools and average merit amounts.


Here’s something similar:


The CTCL schools are a great place to start for a strong but not superstar student. I also recollect (although this is now dated) that there was a parents of 2017 grads thread for students in the 3.0-3.4 range that listed many LACs that offered merit from 20K/year to full tuition.

Off the top of my head, here are some schools that I looked at for my two kids, both of whom ended up at LACs:

Ohio Wesleyan
College of Wooster
St. Lawrence
St Olaf
Puget Sound
Lewis & Clark
Clark (Worcester, MA)

If you child is open to women’s colleges: Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Scripps, Wesleyan College (GA) and Agnes Scott offer substantial merit. The last two are less competitive for admissions and merit than the first four.

Good luck!

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Here is a three or four year old list I compiled from Kiplinger’s data I referred to above that I was able to dig up from an old spreadsheet (sorry the link I provided above no longer links to useful date). The below list provides some (but not all) institutions that grant non-need based aid of between about $15k-$25k to between 50-100% of a colleges students. It should at least provide a good checklist of institutions to look at.

I think some of these have already been mentioned. To the OP, note that many of these are NOT LACs. The list is ordered, starting with institutions providing non-need based aid to 100% of students and concludes with institutions providing such aid to 50% of students.

St. John’s College
Birmingham-Southern College
University of Dallas
Wabash College
Denison University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Hanover College
Austin College
Cornell College
Southwestern University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Principia College
Hillsdale College
Millsaps College
DePauw University
Centre College
St. John’s College
Hendrix College
Butler University
Rhodes College
Lawrence University
Knox College
Trinity University
University of Portland
Kalamazoo College
Augustana College
Agnes Scott College
St. Lawrence University
Lake Forest College
College of Saint Benedict
Mercer University
Gonzaga University
Whitworth University
Beloit College
Willamette University
Houghton College
Baylor University
Xavier University
Saint John’s University
Oberlin College
Luther College
John Carroll University
College of Wooster
Seattle Pacific University
Furman University
Clarkson University
Wheaton College
Creighton University
Centenary College of Louisiana
Saint Louis University
Drew University
Lewis & Clark College
Drake University
Wofford College
University of Tulsa
University of Denver
St. Olaf College
Case Western Reserve University
Tulane University
Rollins College
Grinnell College
Southern Methodist University