Need-blind admission

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Need-blind admission is a term used in the United States denoting a college admission policy in which an institution does not consider an applicant's financial situation when deciding admission. This policy generally increases the proportion of admitted students needing financial aid and often requires the institution to back the policy with an ample endowment or other sources of funding. Being need-blind is a statutory requirement for institutions to participate in an antitrust exemption granted by Congress which remains in effect until September 30, 2022.[1] An institution may be need-blind in any given year by policy (de jure) or by circumstances (de facto).

Most colleges and universities cannot afford to offer adequate financial aid to all admitted students; some are not need-blind while others admit students on a need-blind basis but do not offer them sufficient aid to meet their full demonstrated financial need. In addition, many schools that admit domestic first-year students without regard to need do not extend this policy to international or transfer students. Schools that are need-blind and meet full need for all applicants are usually very selective as they tend to receive more applications than other schools.

Institutions set their own definition of meeting the full demonstrated need. There is no universal standard that an institution must abide by to claim that it meets full demonstrated need. Additionally, some institutions meet full demonstrated need entirely through grants, merit scholarships, and/or talent scholarships, whereas others include loans that need to be repaid and/or work-study directly at the college campus in addition to the other forms of financial aid. For these reasons, an admitted student's financial aid package can vary significantly at different schools that all claim to meet full demonstrated need.

U.S. institutions that are need-blind and meet full demonstrated need for both U.S. and international students[edit]

There are currently only eight U.S. higher education institutions that are need-blind towards all applicants, seven of which meet full demonstrated need for all applicants, including international students.[2] These are:

U.S. institutions that are need-blind for U.S. applicants and meet full demonstrated need for certain or all students[edit]

A number of U.S. institutions of higher learning both offer need-blind admissions and meet the full demonstrated need for all students but are need-aware when it comes to international student admissions. However, all admitted students will have their demonstrated need met, although in some colleges, primarily public colleges, such aid may only be offered for students who either require financial aid or are under specific geographical demographics. For instance, College of William & Mary and University of Michigan are public research universities that meet the full need of qualifying in-state students (residents of Virginia and Michigan, respectively) but don't meet the full need of out-of-state or international students. The following schools fall into this category:

U.S. institutions that are not need-blind for U.S. applicants and meet full demonstrated need for certain or all students[edit]

Many reputable institutions that once championed need-blind policies have modified their policies due to rising costs as well as subpar endowment returns. Such institutions include prestigious colleges that do not offer merit-based aid but promise to meet 100% of financial need (mostly through grants). These stated institutions refer to themselves as "need-aware" or "need-sensitive," with policies that detract from their ability to admit and educate all qualified candidates but allow them to meet the full need of all admitted students who qualify for financial aid (many institutions extend this policy to all students).[53]

For instance, at Macalester College, Mount Holyoke College and Smith College, at least 95% of students are admitted without financial need being a factor, but a slim percentage, generally students who are waitlisted or who have borderline qualifications, are reviewed in consideration of the college's projected financial resources. All three colleges grant all admitted students financial aid packages meeting 100% of need.[54] At Wesleyan University, attempted shifts to a "need-aware" admission policy have resulted in protests by the school's student body.[55]

Some institutions only meet the full need for students who are domestic US residents and/or are eligible for US federal financial aid, as proven by the applicant's FAFSA and CSS profile. A few only meet the full need of students under specific demographics who are considered "economically disadvantaged" and may not be guaranteed to meet the full need of other students. Do note that some colleges don't state their financial aid admissions policy, so they're sorted into the need-aware category. The following schools fall into this category:

U.S. institutions that are need-blind for U.S. applicants and don't guarantee meeting full demonstrated need[edit]

Some schools have a need-blind admissions policy but do not guarantee to meet the full demonstrated financial need of any of the students they admit. The following schools fall under this category:

U.S. institutions that are need-aware and don't guarantee meeting full demonstrated need[edit]

The following institutions are need-aware and aren't guaranteed to meet the full need of the students they admit in any capacity:

Non-U.S. institutions that are need-blind for all applicants[edit]

High schools[edit]

As of 2020, Phillips Academy, St. Albans School,St. Andrew's School and Wayland Academy</ref>"Tuition & Financial Aid". St. Andrew's School. Retrieved 4 July 2020.</ref> are the only American boarding high schools that have clearly stated need-blind admission policies and meet the full demonstrated need of their admitted students. Phillips Exeter Academy was "effectively need-blind" prior to the 2009 admission season but stopped the practice because of economic pressures. Roxbury Latin School, a day school in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, is also need-blind.[97]

See also[edit]


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