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Need-Aware vs. Need-Blind Admissions


Princeton University building

Princeton University, one of the first schools to offer need-blind admissions

It’s the little details on the college application that suddenly become daunting as you begin to apply to schools. An example is the box that asks if you will apply for financial aid. Should you check it?

Before you decide, you need to acquaint yourself with the basics of need-blind and need-aware admissions. And no matter which one appeals to you, be honest about your financial situation when you apply to college!

What’s the Difference?

Need-blind admissions means the school does not look at the financial needs of students when they apply. Therefore, you could get in whether or not you can afford tuition without financial aid.

The opposite of need-blind admissions would be need aware. Schools that are need-aware might look at whether you will be applying for financial aid before they admit you. Though most schools still admit plenty of students who need financial aid, they might begin rejecting such applicants when they run out of money to offer them.

Pros and Cons of Each

If you are worried about your need for financial aid determining whether you will get into college, you might be excited at the prospect of need-blind admissions. This way, applicants from all economic backgrounds are equally considered, which is reassuring to students who do not have much money to pay for college.

The main drawback of need-blind admissions is that you might get into a school you cannot afford. Some schools do not offer great financial aid packages, which means you will be expected to pay for all the costs of college on your own or obtain private scholarships and loans. This can be disappointing if you simply do not have this option and therefore cannot enroll in the college once you are accepted.

For this reason, some students prefer need-aware admissions. The main advantage is that the school will probably not admit you unless you will be offered a good financial aid package. Keep in mind, though, that most students are admitted without much thought to their financial needs until the school begins to run out of money.

At that point, admissions staff will pay attention to the financial needs of applicants, only admitting those who can pay tuition on their own. Therefore, you risk being rejected from a college when you apply to a need-aware school without much money, which is not the case with need-blind admissions.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Admissions officers frequently advise students to be honest about whether they need financial aid. If your school is need aware and you do not indicate your need for grants, loans or scholarships, you might not get the financial aid you would have been offered otherwise.

You should rest assured that in most cases, need-blind admissions are practiced even in schools that claim to be need-aware. This is because the need for financial aid does not come into play until the very end of the process when admissions officers are making final decisions.

At that point, need-aware schools stop being blind to your ability to pay for school, and they begin admitting those who can afford the full tuition. So if it comes down to a choice between you and another equally qualified student with a lot of money, he or she will only have the edge once the need-aware school runs out of financial aid.

Now that you know the basics, it is entirely up to you whether to apply to a school with need-aware or need-blind admissions. Just consider your personal financial situation when making the decision.

 



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