Understanding the realities, and differences, between “need-blind” and “need-aware” schools, will help bring you one step closer to making an informed decision about which colleges to apply to, and ultimately attend.

What does “Need Blind” Mean?

In short, need-blind colleges do not take your family’s financial situation into consideration during the application process, need-aware ones do. So if for instance, you need 50% of your total tuition covered, in theory, a need-blind college like USC will not hold that against you, need-aware ones like Northeastern and Brandeis might.

Once you are accepted, need-blind colleges will generally create an aid package to meet your “demonstrated financial needs” based on your FAFSA®. These usually include a mix of loans, grants, and scholarships, which don’t necessarily amount to 100% of your tuition. Some colleges tend to provide more aid than others, and some students receive more depending on how much the college wants them to enroll. Need-aware colleges, on the other hand, don’t always offer the same aid services, even if students have already been accepted.

In short, need-blind colleges do not take your family’s financial situation into consideration during the application process, need-aware ones do. So if for instance, you need 50% of your total tuition covered, in theory, a need-blind college like USC will not hold that against you, need-aware ones like Northeastern and Brandeis might.

Once you are accepted, need-blind colleges will generally create an aid package to meet your “demonstrated financial needs” based on your FAFSA®. These usually include a mix of loans, grants, and scholarships, which don’t necessarily amount to 100% of your tuition. Some colleges tend to provide more aid than others, and some students receive more depending on how much the college wants them to enroll.

Need-aware colleges, on the other hand, don’t always offer the same aid services, even if students have already been accepted.

How it Affects You

Does that mean if you require financial aid then you shouldn’t apply to need-aware colleges? Not at all. Those colleges, like all others, take a wide variety of factors into account when looking at an application, needing aid will be one among them. That being said, the distinction is made for a reason, so keep it in mind when it comes to which colleges you apply to and choose to attend.

Your finances should be an important factor you take into consideration when making this decision. Many students take on loads of debt and then find themselves being unable to pay it. You might as well lean towards colleges that give more aid if that’s what you need given your financial situation.

The colleges aren’t necessarily better or worse, they’re just in a position that allows them to help students out a little more, and you can take advantage of that.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s up to you to decide where you apply and attend, but financial aid should be a major consideration in that decision. The difference between need-blind and need-aware, if you choose to hold colleges to their word, can mean the difference between an acceptance and rejection letter. It can also influence financial position during and after college. Take a look at the list of need-blind and need-aware colleges to get a good idea of what kind of college best fits your needs.

Weil College Advising

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