Best need-blind liberal arts colleges best-colleges

Needs-blind is a policy where a candidate’s ability to pay for their education is not a factor under consideration during the admissions process. Focusing on schools that implement this policy can increase your chance of acceptance. Here we rank the best need-blinds liberal arts schools using our economics-based methodology.  

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Degree premium: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state. This is called “Vs. state average” in school profiles below.

Ranking: The payback rate is divided by the degree premium (set as a percentage), the lower the number the higher the rank. (i.e. payback=1, degree premium 20% higher than state school median: 1/120% = .883.

Net cost
Earnings
Payback
Degree premium
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in Liberal Arts

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, California

Admission rate: 14%

Grad rate: 94%

Net cost: $22,161

Payback: 1.5 Years

Earnings: $86,571

Vs. state average: + $35,892

Economic score: 0.87

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#2 in Liberal Arts

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, California

Admission rate: 18%

Grad rate: 93%

Net cost: $32,727

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $108,988

Vs. state average: + $58,309

Economic score: 0.92

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#4 in Liberal Arts

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Admission rate: 20%

Grad rate: 91%

Net cost: $19,115

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $71,671

Vs. state average: + $29,600

Economic score: 1.15

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#6 in Liberal Arts

Pomona College

Claremont, California

Admission rate: 9%

Grad rate: 94%

Net cost: $17,458

Payback: 1.6 Years

Earnings: $69,149

Vs. state average: + $18,470

Economic score: 1.18

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#9 in Liberal Arts

Wabash College

Crawfordsville, Indiana

Admission rate: 64%

Grad rate: 72%

Net cost: $19,015

Payback: 2.0 Years

Earnings: $63,425

Vs. state average: + $17,780

Economic score: 1.45

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#11 in Liberal Arts

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: 10%

Grad rate: 95%

Net cost: $19,184

Payback: 2.1 Years

Earnings: $72,637

Vs. state average: + $19,059

Economic score: 1.53

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#12 in Liberal Arts

Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Admission rate: 19%

Grad rate: 93%

Net cost: $25,440

Payback: 2.1 Years

Earnings: $74,340

Vs. state average: + $18,650

Economic score: 1.54

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#14 in Liberal Arts

Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts

Admission rate: 12%

Grad rate: 93%

Net cost: $18,524

Payback: 1.7 Years

Earnings: $71,567

Vs. state average: + $3,809

Economic score: 1.64

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#16 in Liberal Arts

Haverford College

Haverford, Pennsylvania

Admission rate: 19%

Grad rate: 92%

Net cost: $22,991

Payback: 2.2 Years

Earnings: $69,192

Vs. state average: + $15,614

Economic score: 1.68

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#17 in Liberal Arts

Williams College

Williamstown, Massachusetts

Admission rate: 16%

Grad rate: 96%

Net cost: $19,480

Payback: 1.8 Years

Earnings: $71,608

Vs. state average: + $3,850

Economic score: 1.71

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#19 in Liberal Arts

Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine

Admission rate: 10%

Grad rate: 95%

Net cost: $21,910

Payback: 2.5 Years

Earnings: $66,864

Vs. state average: + $19,598

Economic score: 1.80

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#21 in Liberal Arts

University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia

Admission rate: 31%

Grad rate: 83%

Net cost: $25,838

Payback: 3.0 Years

Earnings: $69,310

Vs. state average: + $26,326

Economic score: 1.84

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#22 in Liberal Arts

Barnard College

New York, New York

Admission rate: 14%

Grad rate: 93%

Net cost: $28,204

Payback: 2.4 Years

Earnings: $71,678

Vs. state average: + $15,988

Economic score: 1.87

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#33 in Liberal Arts

Middlebury College

Middlebury, Vermont

Admission rate: 23%

Grad rate: 92%

Net cost: $25,656

Payback: 2.6 Years

Earnings: $65,933

Vs. state average: + $12,419

Economic score: 2.14

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#43 in Liberal Arts

Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

Admission rate: 21%

Grad rate: 93%

Net cost: $22,087

Payback: 2.3 Years

Earnings: $66,531

Vs. state average: - $1,227

Economic score: 2.36

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#48 in Liberal Arts

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York

Admission rate: 25%

Grad rate: 92%

Net cost: $26,208

Payback: 2.8 Years

Earnings: $62,332

Vs. state average: + $6,642

Economic score: 2.49

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#51 in Liberal Arts

Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa

Admission rate: 20%

Grad rate: 85%

Net cost: $22,486

Payback: 2.9 Years

Earnings: $59,488

Vs. state average: + $6,650

Economic score: 2.55

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#57 in Liberal Arts

Wesleyan University

Middletown, Connecticut

Admission rate: 21%

Grad rate: 89%

Net cost: $26,527

Payback: 2.6 Years

Earnings: $68,102

Vs. state average: - $1,458

Economic score: 2.62

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#58 in Liberal Arts

St Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota

Admission rate: 51%

Grad rate: 87%

Net cost: $23,543

Payback: 2.9 Years

Earnings: $60,242

Vs. state average: + $4,966

Economic score: 2.63

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#70 in Liberal Arts

Denison University

Granville, Ohio

Admission rate: 29%

Grad rate: 85%

Net cost: $28,614

Payback: 3.4 Years

Earnings: $57,435

Vs. state average: + $9,036

Economic score: 2.85

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