Elite private colleges don’t award financial aid based on good grades and high SAT or ACT scores. The only way to lower your cost at an elite college like the Ivies, Stanford or Duke, is for your family to show a need for aid based on your finances. If you don’t, you’ll be expected to write a check for sticker price. However, there are hundreds of excellent private colleges offering $5,000 – $25,000 per year based on good grades and test scores. Public universities are creating more and more Honors Colleges as a way to compete on cost for the top students.