Will your need for financial aid affect your chances of admission?

Need-Blind Admission

Many colleges in the United States declare themselves to be “need blind” institutions. This means that they make their admissions decisions before considering the financial need of the applicants. With these schools, your need for financial aid should not affect your chances of admission at all. It is difficult to assess exactly how needs-blind a school really is, especially when the economy is not doing so well and schools may be looking for ways to ensure that they can cover their costs. In general, the more selective, elite schools will be more likely to be not only need-blind with regards to admission, they will also be more likely to guarantee that they will meet a student’s financial need, ensuring that the student can attend that school. These elite schools often have large endowments and many wealthy students paying full tuition, allowing them to meet the demonstrated financial need of each student that cannot pay full tuition.

Many schools have a need-blind admissions policy, but do not have large endowments or many wealthy students paying full tuition. The result is that a school may accept you as a student but be unable to meet your financial need. Your need for financial aid will not affect your chances of admission, but that does not guarantee that the college will then award you a financial aid package that will actually make it possible for you to attend the school.


There are also many schools with limited financial aid budgets that do consider financial need when making a decision to admit a student. These schools may practice what is called, “preferential packaging,” meaning that they will choose to admit particularly attractive students that have extremely strong academic records or special talents or achievements and then offer them financial aid packages.

Being Rich Helps

One thing to remember is that while many schools practice need-blind admission, this only means that they do not consider your financial need before making a decision about your application. A school may still give you preferential treatment if you have no financial need at all. Schools need wealthy students in order to cover costs for those that are not so wealthy. As a result, being able to pay full tuition may positively affect your chances of admission, even if not being able to pay full tuition does not negatively affect your chances of admission.

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