To combat the $32,292 yearly tuition (2011-2012), the University of the South doles out plenty of aid targeted to the neediest families. The College Board reports that the average need-based gift aid package is nearly $28,000, bringing the cost of attendance down to a mere $4,020 for the neediest families.
Even for those of modest means, the school provides substantial aid. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average family earning less than $75,000 pays less than $10,000 to attend the University of the South.
Sewanee is so affordable because the university passes out nonrepayable aid over student loans. To get an idea of the net price of a school before applying, Marilyn Emerson, a certified educational planner and founder of College Planning Services, recommends calling the school to ask what percentage of their financial aid package consists of grants and scholarships versus loans.
"(Students) should also ask about the rules for scholarships," she says. "At some schools you have to apply for scholarships; at some you're automatically considered."
Students can hunt for high gift aid schools by investigating the average scholarships and grants packages at CollegeSearch.CollegeBoard.com.