Only two of the top ten universities give out merit scholarships

by Grace

While all the top ten ranked universities offer generous need-based financial aid, only two – University of Chicago and Duke – award merit scholarships.

First, here are the top ten universities as ranked by US News & World Report.

#1         Harvard University
#1         Princeton University
#3         Yale University
#4         Columbia University
#5         California Institute of Technology
#5         Massachusetts Institute of Technology
#5         Stanford University
#5         University of Chicago
#5         University of Pennsylvania
#10       Duke University


Chicago offers less aid to more students

Chicago awards merit aid to about 10% of its freshman, averaging about $8,000 per recipient.  Here is the description from their website:

Merit awards are determined by the Office of College Admissions regardless of financial need and are guaranteed for four years of undergraduate study. They include the following:

  • University Scholarship: Partial scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, renewable for four years
  • Chicago Public Schools Scholarship: A full-tuition scholarship to selected students who have graduated from a Chicago Public Schools high school
  • Police and Fire Scholarship: A full-tuition scholarship to selected students who are sons or daughters of active-duty Chicago police officers or firefighters
  • The University also honors National Merit Finalists with a renewable award of $1,000 to $2,000.


Duke offers more aid to fewer students

Duke gives merit aid to about 3% of its freshman, averaging about $25,000 per recipient according to US News reporting.  This excludes their athletic scholarships.  More information is available at their website, but you have to wade through the details to learn that some of these “merit” scholarships actually have a need component.  (I’ll write about this messy detail in a future post.)


Scholarship information for both schools from USNWR, based on 2010 data

University of Chicago Non-need-based Scholarships/Grants  
Average non-need-based scholarship or grant award (freshmen) $7,772
Average non-need-based athletic scholarship or grant award (freshmen) $0
Average non-need-based scholarship or grant award (undergraduates) $12,854
Average non-need-based athletic scholarship or grant award (undergraduates) $0
… 
Duke Non-need-based Scholarships/Grants  
Average non-need-based scholarship or grant award (freshmen) $24,985
Average non-need-based athletic scholarship or grant award (freshmen) $39,470
Average non-need-based scholarship or grant award (undergraduates) $21,158
Average non-need-based athletic scholarship or grant award (undergraduates) $38,398
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