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We don't think we'll qualify for need-based aid. Do we apply anyway?

Question: We are a family that is unlikely to qualify for need-based financial aid. We are getting mixed signals as to whether we should apply for it any way. One camp says: there's money for middle class families and you should apply and see what happens. The other camp says: Applicants that can pay full freight may have an advantage and should say so on the application. Who is right? My daughter is a junior and is most interested in some of the top liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan.

When it comes to questions with no easy answers, this is right up there with the one about the chicken and the egg. But here's how I suggest you proceed:

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