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Ultimate Guide to Need Blind Admissions

By Will Geiger

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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and Cait Williams

Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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Reviewed by Annie Trout

Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: December 11th, 2023
Ultimate Guide to Need Blind Admissions

When college admissions officers are reviewing and assessing applications, financial aid can be an important part of the process. In this post, we will unpack the various policies that colleges may have and how this can impact how you apply for and pay for college. Specifically we will be covering:

Keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about need blind admissions, and which specific colleges are need blind in their admissions process!

What is “need blind” admission?

Need blind admissions is an admissions policy that some colleges and universities practice. The policy is pretty simple and quite advantageous to students: when an admissions officer is evaluating an application, they are not taking into account the student’s ability to pay.

This means that the college will not be considering your financial situation at all. Need blind admissions is particularly advantageous for students who will be depending on a high amount of need-based financial aid support to pay for college.

However, just because a college is “need blind” does not mean that every applicant will receive financial aid. This is why we recommend that every student completes the Net Price Calculator to estimate their potential need-based financial aid at any college or university.

Need blind admissions example

Let’s look at a specific example of a need blind policy. This policy is from Princeton University:

“Princeton admission is need-blind — there is no disadvantage in the admission process for financial aid applicants. This ensures a continued and growing enrollment of a diverse group of students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

One thing to note about Princeton’s policy is that their policy covers students regardless of their citizenship status. This need blind admissions for international students is not the case for every college and university. In fact, most of the colleges that are need blind are only need blind for domestic applicants.

Also see: Top need-blind colleges and universities

What is “need aware” admission?

On the flip side, need aware admissions, or need sensitive admissions, is a policy where colleges do take into account an applicant’s ability to pay. Most colleges practice need aware admissions because most colleges have limited budgets for financial aid (as you can imagine, need blind admissions where financial aid is not taken into account could get very expensive).

The downside to need aware or need sensitive admissions for a student is that some applicants will be rejected or waitlisted because they can’t afford to pay. With this said, the applicants who will be most impacted are applicants who are on the borderline. In my experience as an admissions officer at a need aware college, the majority of applicants were not impacted by our need sensitive admissions policy.

Read more: How to read a financial aid award letter (with examples)

What colleges are need blind?

The vast majority of colleges are need aware or need sensitive, so we will be focusing on the other colleges that are need blind.

Need blind for domestic & international applicants

The following colleges and universities are need blind for both domestic and international applicants:

Need blind for domestic applicants only

And here are the schools that are need blind for domestic applications from the United States:

Next Steps

Next Steps

  • Research the above need blind colleges and universities to see if they may be a fit for you! These schools will have some of the strongest need-based financial aid packages of any college!
  • Complete the Net Price Calculator for every college on your list to get an estimate of need-based financial aid!
  • If you are unlikely to receive need-based financial aid, you should consider colleges with strong merit scholarship programs!
Next Steps

Frequently asked questions need blind admission

Are Ivy League admissions need blind?

Yes, Ivy League colleges are need blind for domestic applicants. However, not all of them offer need blind admissions for international students. It’s important to check with each school before you apply to see how your application will be reviewed.

Do you have to apply through a separate need blind application?

Because need blind admission is a policy and not an application, students do not need to apply through a special application. You will need to check with each school you apply to to see what their admissions policy is though.

Is MIT a need blind school?

Yes, MIT does have need blind admissions for its students! In fact, they do more than just provide some financial assistance. MIT is committed to providing their students with one hundred percent of their demonstrated needs. This means that for those who apply and are accepted into MIT, the amount of financial assistance you are given is based on your family’s demonstrated level of need and not on merit.

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