Progressive universities that offer merit scholarships?

I am in the process of looking for schools to apply to this year. I would like a school with:

  • liberal/progressive student body
  • good environmental science program
  • good academics
  • good weather
  • social activism
  • nature nearby (mountains, forests, beach, lakes, etc)
  • near full merit scholarships available

I would prefer to be in a college town setting. I don’t want to be in a big city. I’d love to be in California.

Does anyone know any schools that have these characteristics?

What is your qualification?

IB diploma candidate, 2300 super-score SAT, National Hispanic Merit Finalist, most likely National Merit Finalist, 4.0 unweighted GPA/5.07 weighted, president of SNHS and Key Club, co-president of environmental club, co-editor-in-chief of of school newspaper and school science journal, internship with sea turtle researcher, 450 community service hours (hoping to reach 600), in band and theater at my school

USC, Claremont McKenna, Occidental College, U. of Santa Clara have merit scholarships.

Is your family income too high to qualify for need base financial aid?

USD, Chapman U. also have merit scholarships.

We won’t qualify for much need based aid, I think our expected contribution should be about 35,000.

Thank you for the suggestions! I am looking into them now

You need to clarify your financial situation and residence status. How much are your parents able and willing to pay? What is your EFC (according to the online Net Price Calculators) at expensive “full need” schools like USC, Pomona, or Stanford? Are you a California resident?

If your EFC is about $35K, in theory you may qualify for as much as ~$25K in need-based aid from so-called “full need” private schools. How much of the EFC is your family actually able and willing to cover? If they can cover the full $35K, and if you are a California resident, then you may not need any financial aid at all to pay for a school in the University of California system. If they cannot cover even close to that amount, then you may need to focus on big merit scholarships. In that case, you may need to broaden your focus beyond CA.

UC Santa Cruz
Scripps if you are female.

The Florida LACs- New College of Florida, Eckerd.

And Guilford, in Greensboro, N.C.- They are wooing STEM students and might offer you full tuition (My D received a substantial merit aid and then was invited to apply for more $$ through the Honors program and then even more in a special science program). The school is very committed to its Quaker values; the student body is VERY progressive and activist. The campus backs up to the Guilford Woods, a gorgeous untouched wooded area. Greensboro itself is a small city but there are some very cute, vibrant areas near campus (check out Lindley Park).

What is your home state?

Bard College, Bennington College, UC Santa Cruz, Clark University and Smith College.

tk21769- I’m not sure exactly what our EFC is, I will ask my parents. But they do not want to pay that much for colleges because I am a FL resident and could go to UF or any of the other FL schools for very little cost. I am definitely looking at schools outside of CA. I just really like that state.

LeftofPisa- UCSC is my dream school! Unfortunately, I don’t think I would be able to afford it as a non-resident :frowning: my home state is FL so New College and Eckerd would be good! I will look into Guilford, it sounds awesome. Congrats to your daughter!

TheDidactic- I love UCSC, can’t afford it :frowning: I will look into the others though, thank you for the suggestions!

Got to UCSC for grad school. And save the $$ for it by going to New College of Florida. Really, I think you will find it meets your criteria and it is in state so very affordable. You are lucky to have it as an option!

My D ultimately chose not to go to Guilford and will be attending Mt. Holyoke after a gap year but we know kids at Guilford who are very happy. But it isn’t right on the water like NCF!

Unless your parents have been working the online Net Price Calculators for specific schools, they may not know what your EFC is for those schools. It’s the specific college, not the family, that determines the Expected Family Contribution. What your parents CAN tell you is how much they actually are able and willing to pay. You need to know whether there is a big gap between the EFC, at schools that interest you, and what your family is able and willing to pay. If there is, you probably need to rule out those schools.

New College of Florida seems to meet some of your criteria. Total COA is < $20K for FL residents.

Do u want to have your mind broadened in college by exposure to different perspectives? Or do u just want to be around people who agree w u?

Re: #9 - I don’t think that Bennington, et al, meet the OP’s criteria for weather. Out-of-state students at New College of FL are eligible for automatic merit scholarships that bring the COA down to around $25k per year. I think every UC will be sufficiently progressive. Heck, Claremont-McKenna has a conservative reputation, but that is only in relation to other colleges in the area. It attracts a few libertarians, but it is a liberal arts college in southern California. Just avoid Pepperdine. Colorado College won’t have beaches, and it can get chilly, but you have natural beauty in abundance there.

Maybe so, but cost may be a show-stopper. OOS sticker prices exceed $50K. Financial aid is limited for OOS students. UC financial aid usually will not cover the nonresident supplemental tuition.

Colorado College, Whitman College.


- liberal/progressive student body

Do u want to have your mind broadened in college by exposure to different perspectives? Or do u just want to be around people who agree w u?


@GMTplus7 Shame on you! Don’t you know that only conservative students seeking conservative schools are supposed to be asked that question? :wink:

Anyway…to the student: Virtually all univs (except bible colleges and strict religious) are going to be left of center. The profs are heavily liberal, and the students will range from left to center to right and also have some that are completely indifferent.

Kind of a shameless plug for my school here, but it looks like Yale-NUS might check all your boxes. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out: The kids there are very progressive and active, the professors are world class (every single one seems to be from HYP/Oxford/Cambridge…), the weather is (mostly) balmy, there are huge nature reserves, beaches and mountains all nearby, and they have a special program for a concurrent degree (4+1 programme) with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where you get a BS/BA from Yale-NUS and a Masters in Environmental Science from Yale in 5 years. I kind of had the same economic deal as you (expected family contribution was max, no need based aid from anyone) and was lucky to get a full-ride to the school! PM me if you have any questions about it but check it out! Otherwise, I think USC is a good suggestion too; I got a huge merit scholarship from them, but it is in the middle of LA… Campus is beautiful though, and pretty progressive.

LeftofPisa- New College is definitely on my list! My favorite teacher keeps telling me it would be a great fit for me. The only thing I worry about is size. I don’t want a big school but I believe New College is about 200 kids per grade. I will definitely keep it on my list though! I’ve heard that Mt. Holyoke is awesome. Good for your daughter! If it were more affordable it would be on my list for sure.

tk21769- Definitely applying to New College. You’re right- unfortunately, none of the UC schools are affordable for me. I am thinking about applying to UCSC because they offer a few more scholarships and (not including price) it would be one of my top choices. Even with the scholarships, I don’t think it will be affordable.

GMTplus7- both!

woogzmama- New College would definitely be affordable for me. The UC’s, not so much. I looked into the Consortium. My favorites are Pitzer and Pomona and they are the only ones that don’t give merit aid! I may look into Claremont McKenna again. I just heard it is very preppy and not as liberal as the other ones.