Admissions, Choosing A School, Diversity, Low Income Students

Best Public Colleges for Low-Income Students

No Comments 30 August 2017

The 123 public colleges that satisfy the selection criteria enroll a total of 2,015,267 total undergraduate students, including 603,852 Federal Pell Grant recipients (30%). The average net price is $8,984, ranging from $3,364 to $12,464. The 6-year graduation rate for Federal Pell Grant recipients is 63%, ranging from 50% to 88%.

The colleges are listed in alphabetical order.

Best Public Colleges Percentage
Pell Grant
Net Price for
Low-Income Students (AGI $0 to 30,000)
Graduation Rates for
Pell Grant Recipients (2013)
Appalachian State University 26% $7,671 63%
Ball State University 35% $9,260 51%
California Polytechnic State Univ. – San Luis Obispo 20% $10,611 56%
California State Polytechnic Univ. – Pomona 44% $6,984 51%
California State University – Fullerton 41% $3,364 50%
California State University – Long Beach 47% $5,549 54%
California State University – Stanislaus 58% $3,794 53%
Central Michigan University 35% $10,753 60%
Citadel Military College of South Carolina 24% $11,417 59%
Clemson University 18% $11,253 74%
College of William and Mary 12% $5,136 86%
Colorado State University 26% $10,449 56%
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College 45% $5,318 69%
CUNY College of Staten Island 45% $7,635 51%
CUNY Queens College 38% $4,207 58%
Dakota State University 24% $11,029 52%
East Carolina University 32% $10,257 52%
Fitchburg State University 34% $9,897 53%
Florida International University 58% $9,039 53%
Georgia Institute of Technology 19% $6,138 78%
Grand Valley State University 36% $11,530 62%
Illinois State University 26% $11,958 63%
Indiana University – Bloomington 19% $4,855 64%
Iowa State University 23% $8,721 58%
James Madison University 13% $11,154 77%
Longwood University 23% $11,651 56%
Louisiana State University 20% $5,692 58%
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 45% $10,364 53%
Massachusetts Maritime Academy 19% $5,159 57%
Michigan State University 24% $6,434 72%
Michigan Technological University 27% $8,056 61%
Missouri University of Science and Technology 26% $10,832 56%
New College of Florida 29% $6,411 66%
New Jersey Institute of Technology 39% $11,445 57%
North Carolina State University at Raleigh 22% $6,451 70%
North Dakota State University 23% $11,272 50%
Northern State University 23% $11,757 52%
Ohio State University 22% $10,566 74%
Oklahoma State University 29% $9,630 55%
Purdue University 21% $7,153 59%
Radford University 28% $11,448 59%
Ramapo College of New Jersey 25% $9,805 60%
Salisbury University 22% $8,468 66%
San Diego State University 40% $6,980 63%
Sonoma State University 30% $10,077 53%
Southern Connecticut State University 35% $10,835 51%
St Mary’s College of Maryland 15% $4,827 64%
Stony Brook University 35% $8,770 70%
SUNY at Albany 37% $10,515 67%
SUNY at Binghamton 27% $10,585 75%
SUNY at Buffalo 28% $10,146 66%
SUNY at Fredonia 35% $10,190 60%
SUNY at Geneseo 23% $9,704 71%
SUNY College at Brockport 41% $8,747 66%
SUNY College at Cortland 27% $10,442 65%
SUNY College at New Paltz 28% $8,551 69%
SUNY College at Oneonta 29% $8,507 59%
SUNY College at Plattsburgh 35% $8,366 54%
SUNY College at Purchase 32% $12,423 59%
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry 27% $11,586 73%
Texas A & M University 22% $4,304 72%
Texas Tech University 29% $9,733 50%
The College of New Jersey 18% $6,910 73%
The Evergreen State College 44% $9,951 60%
The University of Tennessee 30% $8,770 54%
The University of Texas at Austin 27% $10,696 70%
The University of Texas at Dallas 35% $8,471 55%
Towson University 25% $9,034 54%
Truman State University 19% $7,798 62%
University of Arizona 33% $11,562 53%
University of California – Berkeley 32% $8,607 88%
University of California – Davis 43% $10,492 75%
University of California – Irvine 43% $8,532 87%
University of California – Los Angeles 36% $8,027 86%
University of California – Merced 60% $8,720 59%
University of California – Riverside 56% $9,678 68%
University of California – San Diego 43% $8,362 84%
University of California – Santa Barbara 38% $10,190 79%
University of California – Santa Cruz 45% $10,862 71%
University of Central Florida 38% $10,637 64%
University of Delaware 12% $10,643 80%
University of Florida 32% $7,207 81%
University of Georgia 24% $8,558 72%
University of Hawaii at Manoa 31% $7,506 57%
University of Illinois at Chicago 49% $9,663 54%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 20% $7,801 78%
University of Iowa 19% $8,584 60%
University of Maine at Fort Kent 32% $9,912 52%
University of Maryland – Baltimore 27% $11,501 61%
University of Maryland – College Park 19% $6,938 75%
University of Massachusetts Amherst 25% $11,064 66%
University of Massachusetts – Lowell 30% $10,718 52%
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 16% $5,470 82%
University of Michigan – Dearborn 43% $8,483 56%
University of Minnesota – Duluth 24% $8,312 52%
University of Minnesota – Morris 29% $8,797 55%
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 22% $8,650 63%
University of Mississippi 30% $10,898 51%
University of Nebraska – Lincoln 20% $11,395 58%
University of North Carolina at Asheville 32% $8,127 52%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 21% $3,823 86%
University of North Carolina at Charlotte 40% $8,307 53%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro 44% $7,923 52%
University of North Carolina – Wilmington 28% $10,912 65%
University of Northern Iowa 27% $10,283 60%
University of Oregon 26% $12,083 56%
University of South Florida 41% $6,735 62%
University of Utah 32% $11,640 61%
University of Vermont 19% $10,742 73%
University of Virginia 12% $9,615 84%
University of Washington – Bothell 35% $7,304 69%
University of Washington – Seattle 25% $7,054 77%
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire 27% $8,695 58%
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse 23% $9,225 64%
University of Wisconsin – Madison 15% $9,235 73%
University of Wisconsin – Platteville 31% $9,518 51%
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point 34% $8,295 54%
Virginia Military Institute 15% $5,129 77%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 17% $12,446 78%
Washington State University 33% $10,296 59%
Western Michigan University 40% $12,464 53%
Western Washington University 26% $8,762 65%
Westfield State University 26% $11,181 54%

Take a look at this list of best private colleges for low-income students.

Admissions, Choosing A School, Diversity, Low Income Students

Best Colleges for Low-Income Students

No Comments 30 August 2017

Finding an affordable but high-quality college can be challenging for low-income and first-generation students. This article presents lists of public and private 4-year colleges, all of which have a low net price and a high graduation rate for low-income students.

Not only are these colleges affordable for low-income students, but the students are likely to graduate with an affordable amount of debt.


Students should consider a variety of colleges before they begin the application process. Historically, students from low-income backgrounds have applied to too few colleges, often enrolling at institutions that are not a good academic, social and financial fit. This leads to sub-optimal outcomes like low retention and graduation rates and high debt. Students should cast a wide net. Look at private and public institutions, in-state and out-of-state schools, and small and large colleges. Students should be encouraged to learn about colleges and universities you have never heard of before.

Every low-income student should consider their in-state public colleges, as those institutions will often be the most affordable option. In-state public colleges are also a good option because low-income students tend to choose colleges that are close to home. Students may be able to save on college costs by living at home with their families instead of on a college campus.

The net price for public colleges is based on the in-state tuition rates. The net price for out-of-state students may be much higher.

Low-income students should also consider private colleges with low net prices and high graduation rates. In some cases, generous private colleges can have a lower net price than some in-state public institutions.

For both public and private colleges, students should aim to have total student loan debt at graduation that is less than their annual starting salary. If total student loan debt is less than annual income, the student should be able to repay his or her student loans in ten years or less.


The lists of public and private colleges were identified using a combination of two factors:

  • Affordable. Affordability was based on the one-year net price for students with a family income of $0 to $30,000, using data from the 2013-14 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The net price is the discounted sticker price, the costs that remain after subtracting average grants, scholarships and other gift aid from the total cost of attendance. Only colleges with a net price under $12,500 were included.
  • Good Outcomes. Outcomes were based on the 6-year graduation rates for Federal Pell Grant recipients, using data from the Education Trust. The Federal Pell Grant is the largest need-based grant program, awarded mostly to low-income students. Only colleges with 6-year graduation rates of 50% or more were included. This ensures that low-income students at these colleges are more likely to graduate than not.

Some colleges were omitted because the Pell Grant recipient graduation rate data were not available. Examples include Brigham Young University – Provo, Columbia University in the City of New York, Cooper Union and Harvard University.

Several colleges with a reputation for serving low-income students did not satisfy the selection criteria because their net price for low-income students was too high.

We present the lists of recommended public and private colleges in two separate articles. The lists are expected to be stable from year to year.

Choosing A School, College Greenlight Features

Tufts University Welcomes Low-Income and First-Generation Students

No Comments 08 August 2017

Tufts University, located in Medford, Massachusetts, is a student-centered research university full of friendly, engaged, collaborative and civically minded people. It offers small class sizes and the individual attention of a small liberal arts college with the experiential opportunities of a large research institution.

Students can take classes within three undergraduate schools — the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts — while tapping into the unique constellations of graduate and professional colleges that make up Tufts.

Tufts offers more than 150 majors and minors. It encourages students to find connections between disciplines.

Programs for First-Generation Students

An offer of admission from Tufts could include enrollment in a six-week summer bridge program for first-generation college students and students from under-resourced high schools. The Bridge to Liberal Arts Success (BLAST) and Bridge to Engineering Success (BEST) support students in their transition to college. Students complete two Tufts courses for credit before the start of the academic year.

The First Generation Student Council, Quest Scholars Network and Center for STEM Diversity also create communities of support for underrepresented groups. All undergraduates have access to student success advisors to facilitate the transition to college.


Tufts is committed to making sure all of admitted students can afford an education. The university meets 100 percent of the full demonstrated need of all students. Students with a total family income of less than $60,000 receive a financial aid package that includes no student loans. For our students with the greatest need, additional grant funding for travel and personal expenses also is included in the financial aid package.

Access to Opportunity

Tufts is located outside Boston, a global center of education that offers access to endless internships and social activities, a thriving arts scene and a collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit. Its campus provides the best of both worlds. The university is just far enough outside of the city to have plenty of green space and a contained campus that fosters community, but it also is located 10 minutes from Boston’s subway system, the T, with easy access to the city.

Admissions, Choosing A School

Tips for Transferring Colleges

No Comments 07 August 2017

Sometimes the college you select does not work out. If you’ve given it time and realize it is not the right fit, that’s fine. Transferring colleges always is an option. Here are some tips if you decide to transfer colleges.

Do a little soul searching. What is it about your current college that made you want to transfer? Location? Size? Academic programs? It is important that you are able to determine the things your college experience was lacking. When you visit potential colleges, make sure they really fit the criteria you are looking for.

College application process. The college application process is stressful, and you’re about to go through it again. But this time around, try the Greenlight Scholars application. The application is free. You will be able to apply to multiple colleges at once and share your story. The application gives a complete picture of your academics, skills, experiences and potential.

Transferring credits. Don’t let the work you’ve already put in go to waste. If possible, transfer to a college that will accept your credits. If not, contact the college you hope to apply to and talk to someone in admissions. Ask for a counselor who specializes in transfer students, if possible, and chat about which credits will be accepted.

Financial aid. Certain colleges don’t offer transfer students a lot of financial aid. Talk to a financial aid officer at your current college for tips on how to potentially get more financial aid from your new college. Make sure you also are familiar with the financial aid situation at your new college before you commit. Now that you have decided to transfer, keep checking out the scholarships we match you with on your College Greenlight profile.

Choosing A School

Pros and Cons of a Summer College Visit

No Comments 07 June 2017

College visits: It’s not a question of if you should do it but when. Take a look at the pros and cons of planning a college visit during the summer to see if this is the right time for you.

Pro: It’s a Vacation

College visits usually are crammed into one weekend. But when you visit during the summer, you can take your time. You can explore the sights a campus offers. Take a look at dorms, the library and academic buildings you might spend time in. With the freedom that summer has to offer, you can stretch the visit across a few days. Plus, you’ll even have the time to check out the surrounding city.

Con: Few Students

Your potential academic program is one of the most important reasons to pick a college. Feeling at home with the other students, however, is just as important. There will be fewer students on campus if you visit during the summer. Unfortunately, that means you might not be able to experience the energy that the students bring to the campus. Consider visiting that college again in the fall to see what it’s like full of students.

Pro: More Attention

College visits during the academic year can be filled with dozens of students. During the summer, there’s a good chance it’ll just be you and maybe one or two other prospective students. That means the tour guide will have more time to give to you. Use this to your advantage and ask as many questions as you want.

Con: Fewer Activities

Since summer means fewer students on campus, that means fewer activities to see. During the fall, colleges often offer overnight visits. That means you can spend the night with a student in his or her dorm room. You shadow them in classes and extracurricular activities. You might have the option to see a summer school course, but visiting a college during the summer will limit the number of student activities you can experience.

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