Carleton-CollegeWith the average college student graduating with some $23,000 in debt, many could use a little -- or a lot -- of help.

For those on the money hunt for college, The Princeton Review has come out with its Financial Aid Ratings of 613 colleges based on surveys of administrators and student-aid recipients at the schools. The scores range from 60 to 99, with 99 being the best.

The company considered how many students received aid compared to the number of students who needed it, how much of their financial needs were met and how many students received all the aid they needed, as well as how satisfied students said they were with their awards.

Top Scorers

So which colleges came out on top? The Princeton Review's 2012 Financial Aid Rating Honor Roll gives kudos to the colleges that received the highest possible score.

In alphabetical order:

Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.)
Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, Calif.)
Columbia University (New York, N.Y.)
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, Mass.)
Pomona College (Claremont, Calif.)
Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.)
Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Penn.)
Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Calif.)
Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher at The Princeton Review, offered encouragement for students and parents worried about how they will pay for college. "Always get current information about a school's financial aid offerings and never cross a school off the list because of its sticker price: sometimes, the most expensive colleges are the most generous with their grants and aid," he said in a prepared statement .

How Would You Rate Your Financial Aid Package
Excellent, I got more than I hoped for 1 (25.0%)
Good1 (25.0%)
So-so, will need to work as well1 (25.0%)
I didn't get anything at all1 (25.0%)

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The American Opportunity Credit has allocated up to $50 billion per year to assist students with the continued rising costs of tuition. A student receives loans, grants, scholarships, etc. but still the costs of tuition supersedes these assistances. This extremely overlooked form of financial aid can provide students with an extra $10,000 in the course of their 4 year college career. This is not a loan, and is more like a grant in that these funds do not need to be paid back. Watch this video for further detail.

August 05 2011 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Surprised that Cornell was not on this list! Their financial aid is outstanding!!!

August 04 2011 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wendy Birdseye Pavlu

A few years ago when our oldest of 6 was getting ready to go to college, we only thought that we would be able to afford a public state school for her. Although our state schools (NY) are very good is definitely limited her choices. Around that time we had lunch with some friends who had a large # of kids. They told us to look at some of the more elite private schools as they have large endowments that allow for much financial aid. State schools along with many others are "tuition based". Many of these other schools are "endowment based". We checked into a private all-women college only 40 minutes away and at the time the tuition was $17,000. She was accepted (a solid B student) and in those 4 yrs we never spent more than $1000 a year to send her there. Of course she took out student loans, but that would have been a given even if she went to a state school. She got a fabulous education, went on to a Ivy League Master program from there and is teaching in NC. I also decided to go back to school when she was a senior to the same school. I paid NOTHING but my loans for the whole 4 years. Never sell your kids short - look into the endowment based schools - great education and they help you way more than the public schools ever will. I know as I had a kid in one of those as well. He is a lawyer now, but they always want their money up front and ON TIME. The private school was very forgiving about whenever you got that loan money to them if for some reason(and there are many) it got snagged in the works.

August 04 2011 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Rivero

So this is the list, These are also the most expensive schools in the country. So, are we really catching a break.

August 04 2011 at 5:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The system stinks if you ask me. A country like this should be ashamed of themselves. Skyrocketing college costs leaves some kids no choice but to go to work and not get ahead. This is why the foreigners are moving up, thanks Washington.........................

August 03 2011 at 11:35 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Not sure where or what schools you are talking about but most of my friends children including mine will finish with a debt of at least $23,000 PER YEAR!! and that is with a lrg scholarship and some financial aide.

The average cost of a private college education is $160.000. Public or state schools are about half that.

August 03 2011 at 9:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Because my sister got financial assistance, they told me that I wasn't eligible for assistance because there was too much money coming into the home. So my sister got to finish college and graduate while I had to drop out early and go to work to try and earn enough money to go back to college, but I never was able to make enough with all the increases. My sister doesn't even use her degree. She says it was a total waist of time and money which pisses my father off and he has sworn that he will never give me a dime towards my education because he doesn't want me to do the same. I keep telling him that it's not my fault that he backed the wrong horse. Why should I be penalized?

August 03 2011 at 8:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

There is a reason that student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. There is also a reason why programs like those for veterans of World War Two and the Korean War, the GI bill, were discontinued. The former benefits banks, the latter benefitted productive citizens of the United States. The GI bill provided the greatest benefit to the citizens of the United States, and produced the greatest return on the money spent on it, of any government program in our history. It did little or nothing to provide special interest groups with the means to enrich themselves at the expense of the working people, while providing veterans, their families, the means to get education, skills training, start buying a home, and more. The result was their earnings grew, our technology improved, good jobs were created, and tax revenues were generated that far exceeded the costs of the program. The program rewarded the productive who had sacrificed some of their productive years to serve in the military, and gave them the means to "catch up". Over all they did, and then some. All of the above mentioned results are precisely the reason our veterans, particularly Viet Nam veterans, found no such benefit available.

August 03 2011 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to blueeyesolsen's comment

I don't know where you are getting your information about the GI Bill being gone - I just graduated college in 2010, utilizing the GI Bill. Yes, it has changed to the "Post 9/11 GI Bill", but the benefit is still there. I also bought my first house (in 1998 - at 19 years old) with a VA backed loan, which is part of the Veterans Benefits package.

Military veterans still have and are still using these benefits you mentioned.

August 03 2011 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what colleges admit you with a low point grade afverage??

August 03 2011 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For whom is this article intended? Offers went out months ago to the colleges in the article; and with that was (I am sure) a caveat along the lines of "providing federal funds are available to the extent used in our forecast". Students applying now are probably not full time and the results of the studies above would have no bearing on the aid these students receive.

August 03 2011 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply