What is Need Blind Admissions?

College Finance
July 14, 2020
Choosing The Best Colleges To Apply To Is A Hard Enough Task On Its Own…

When students are faced with the added challenge of financing that college experience, they have even more things to consider when they’re deciding the best colleges to apply to.

At this point in their college application process, it might be time for students to learn the difference between need blind and need aware admissions, and which one would be best for them. Keep reading to find out whether your child could benefit from a college that operates under a need blind admissions policy.

What Is Need Blind Versus Need Aware Admissions?

These two college factions can be boiled down to a simple difference in financial aid policies.


When a college has a need blind admissions policy, the admission officers don’t look at a student’s ability to pay for school when they’re considering them for admission. When a student is accepted to a need blinds school, it is purely based on merit. Whether or not the student has the ability to pay is not of concern to these admissions officers.

They look at a student’s application, school involvement, grades, and how they will fit at their college only.

Of course, even if a college is need blind, they may not guarantee that they’ll meet 100% of the student’s need for financial aid. This fine print language can be translated to “We want you to come study here, but we can’t give you any financial aid,” because they’re budget isn’t based on the student’s household income. Their budget is set in stone for the most part, so if they’re admitted, students must be prepared for the possibility of not receiving 100% of the financial aid they need.

The great thing about need blind admissions is that the college won’t deny students admission simply based on the fact that they can’t afford what’s on the price tag. However, this can sometimes work against them because the college can’t prepare to give out a certain amount of financial aid every year because they can’t see what they’re students financial ability is like.


A college that operates under a need aware admissions policy chooses to look at a student’s ability to pay for school when they’re reviewing incoming applications. In this instance, the college probably has a certain amount of financial aid they know they can give out every year, so by factoring in a student’s financial background, they can budget properly and know whether or not they would be able to cover their tuition.

These colleges also usually depend on a certain amount of tuition every year to actually operate. So, by looking at a student’s socioeconomic background, they can know whether or not they will be able to meet their quota for the year.

So, if a need aware admissions department admits a student and they know from looking at their history that the student will need a large amount of financial aid to pay for college, then they will need to balance that out by admitting students who don’t need very much financial aid. It’s like budgeting, but on a much larger scale.

At first glance, it may seem like need aware admissions is unethical and obtrusive: why do they need to peek at a student’s private financial situation? Simply put, colleges are businesses. In order to run, they need to know who they’re admitting, where their finances are going to come from, and how they can break even each semester. Being need aware is simply a college’s tactic for creating a balance in their financial books while ensuring that each student they admit can afford their tuition.

Should Students Look For Need Blind Schools?

Before they begin their college search, students should understand that they may be granted admission by need blind schools, but they may also be denied financial aid. Either way, both kinds of colleges can be beneficial for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

If a student comes from a low-income household, they should still apply for both need blind and need aware schools. Students should try to balance their choices out so they’re ensured that they get the best offer they can find. The wider their pool is, the more likely they are to receive a fantastic deal that’s perfect for them and their family’s financial situation.

Whether or not a student chooses to prioritize their college search to include need blind schools is completely up to them. They just need to remember: need blind colleges don’t know what students can afford, and need aware colleges do know what they can afford. How that affects the student’s overall admission decisions will still come down to the quality of their application, essay, and supplementary materials.

Why Need Blind Colleges Might Be Right For You

Students who would benefit greatly from need blind colleges have a well-rounded high school history complete with challenging courses, exceptional grades, and a wide variety of extracurricular activities and volunteer experience.

There is a group of U.S. colleges that are both need blind and promise to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need. In this case, the college won’t know your financial background until you are admitted, and even then, they guarantee to provide whatever support you need to be able to afford your degree.

Remember, the college won’t know the student’s financial background, so they will purely be making their decision based on their application’s content. So, if a student is a good fit for a need blind college, and they explicitly guarantee to meet a student’s full demonstrated need, they should consider applying to need blind colleges!

Here are some of the top colleges in the U.S. that are need blind and meet 100% of demonstrated need:

Check out WeAdmit’s college guides for each of these colleges, where you and your student can find all the information you need to know about these schools in one easy place.

How To Take Advantage Of Need Blind Admissions

The best way for your child to take advantage of need blind admissions is for them to first call the financial aid offices of the colleges they’re interested in. Encourage them to ask specific and targeted questions; students should ask the college about whether they’re need blind or need aware and what percentage of students have been admitted based on their socioeconomic background. By considering this kind of data, students will get a better picture of their chances of being admitted and being offered a financial aid package that covers what they need.

Another great way that students can predict what kind of experience they’ll have applying to a need blind college is to use a tuition calculator. These tools are available on every college’s website; students can plug in some basic information about their family’s finances and get an instant estimate of what kind of financial aid they are eligible for. Mind you, these resources will not tell you that you’re guaranteed to receive what the student is eligible for; eligibility is different than actually being offered a financial aid package.

Ultimately, if students plan well, and really go for it when it comes to applying to a need blind college, they will be pursuing every opportunity and really taking ownership of their future.

If you or your student need any assistance understanding the difference between need blind and need aware admissions, WeAdmit’s professional counselors are standing by and ready to help your child get into the college of their dreams!



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.