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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 are need blind admissions?

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.

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

You have the same chance of being admitted whether or not you apply for financial aid. Princeton has a need-blind admission policy, which means that our Admission Office evaluates student academic and extra-curricular credentials without consideration of a family’s financial circumstances. This policy covers all applicants for admission, including international students.

One thing to note about Princeton’s policy is that their policy “covers all applicants for admission, including international students.” 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.

What is need aware admissions?

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. In some situations, the admissions officer will have access to your Estimated Family Contribution or EFC which is the amount of money that your family can contribute to paying (according to the college’s financial aid methodology). This will vary from college to college as some admissions officers will have access to this data, while others won’t.

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:

  1. Amherst College
  2. Harvard University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Minerva Schools
  5. Princeton University
  6. Yale University

Need blind for domestic applicants only

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

  • Adrian College
  • Babson College
  • Barnard College
  • Baylor University
  • Biola University
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Chapman University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Columbia University
  • Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  • Cornell College
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Davidson College
  • Denison University
  • DePaul University
  • Duke University
  • Elon University
  • Emory University
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Florida State University
  • Fordham University
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Georgetown University
  • Grinnell College
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Haverford College
  • Hiram College
  • Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Julliard
  • Kenyon College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lehigh University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Marist College
  • Marlboro College
  • Middlebury College
  • Mills College
  • Mount St. Mary’s College
  • New York University
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Central College
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Penn State
  • Pomona College
  • Providence College
  • Randolph College
  • Rice University
  • Salem College
  • San Jose State University
  • Soka University of America
  • St. John’s College
  • St. Olaf College
  • Stanford University
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Swarthmore College
  • Syracuse University
  • The College of New Jersey
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • Trinity University
  • Tufts University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business
  • University of Miami
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Rochester
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • Ursuline College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Wabash College
  • Wake Forest University School of Medicine
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Yeshiva University

Next steps for students

  • 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!