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Does Applying For Financial Aid Affect Acceptance Rates?


For many parents of students applying to U.S. colleges, when it comes to putting together a college list, the main limitation factors are high school grade point average (GPA), standardized test scores (SAT or ACT), or the impact of extracurricular activities.


When deciding which schools to apply to, in addition to the school's location, academics, and so on, the tuition fee is also an important reference for everyone to consider. However, for many middle-class and low-income families, the real limitation factor in college selection is the soaring college tuition fees.


In this post, we will take a look at the relationship between applying for financial aid in college and acceptance rates in the US.


When many students apply for financial aid, their biggest concern is, "Does it affect my chances for acceptance?" The short answer is, if you are applying for Need-Blind financial aid, it will not affect the admission decision.


Need-blind is an admissions policy used by US universities, and it means that an applicant's financial situation is not taken into account when deciding whether to admit or not.


Now let's take a look at the financial aid policies at Universities in the US:


1. Need-blind and meet full demonstrated need for both U.S. and international students.


In this case, applying for financial aid does not affect admissions in any way, and at the same time, full financial aid is provided to all U.S. AND international students who meet the financial aid application requirements.


At the time of writing, there are 8 universities in the US that offer need-blind financial aid to all applicants, whether they are US students or international students, 7 of them offer aids to meet full demonstrated need. These schools are:


Amherst College

Bowdoin College

Dartmouth College

Harvard University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Princeton University

Yale University

Brown University


2. Need-blind and meet full demonstrated need for U.S. students.


In this case, applying for financial aid does not affect admissions, and at the same time, full financial aid is provided to all US students who meet the financial aid application requirements.


Although all students can indicate the amount of financial aid they need when applying, many US universities with a Need-Blind policy issue full financial aid to students from the US to meet full demonstrated need. Financial aid for international students is relatively limited.


For example, the College of William and Mary and the University of Michigan provide full financial aid to in-state students, but are unable to meet the financial needs of out-of-state and international students.


Other schools with a similar policy are:


Boston College

Carnegie Mellon University

Columbia University

Northwestern University (no financial aid available to international students)

University of Pennsylvania (also need-blind for Mexican and Canadian students)


3. Need-aware and meet full demonstrated Interest for both U.S. and international students.


In this case, applying for financial aid will affect admission. At the same time, schools provide full financial aid to all or some US students who meet the financial aid application requirements.


At some universities, the student's financial aid application will be included in the consideration of admission. These policies are referred to as need-aware or need-sensitive.


For example, at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, two liberal arts colleges, 95% of applicants are admitted without consideration for their financial needs. However, for those on the waitlist or borderline cases, their financial aid applications might have the final word over their admission results, because both universities provide students with full financial aid, and admissions officers will need to consider whether their decisions will exceed the school's financial aid budget for that year.


Universities that do not publish their financial aid policies are included in this category:


Boston University (may not provide full financial aid to international students)

Case Western Reserve University

Pitzer College

University of Rochester

Tufts University

Northeastern University (may not provide full financial aid to international students)


4. Need-blind and don't guarantee meeting full demonstrated need.


In this case, applying for financial aid does not affect admission decisions, but full financial aid cannot be guaranteed.


Although these schools have a need-blind policy, there is no guarantee that students will receive the full amount of financial aid they need.


Fordham University

New York University (can offer up to 60% of students' need on average)

Santa Clara University

University of San Diego (can offer up to 71% of students' need on average)


5. Need-aware and don't guarantee meeting full demonstrated need.


In this case, applying for financial aid will affect admission decisions, but full financial aid is not guaranteed.


Schools with this policy include:


Pepperdine University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

University of San Francisco

Rhode Island School of Design


More and more families are beginning to think of sending their kids to college more as an investment nowadays, and budgeting for college is becoming more important as well. In the face of soaring college tuition fees, students and parents are left wondering: What is my return on investment? How can one make the best of college?


At Enlighteens, we provide our best assistance to students and families with every backgrounds and needs. We understand that college is as much a serious financial commitment as it is a learning experience, and we are here to help students and their families make the best out of their college experience, with the bigger picture in mind.

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