Here’s an article by the New York Times that explains the difference between need-blind, need-aware and need-sensitive colleges:

Basically, many colleges have different policies regarding whether or not they will accept your child based on how much financial aid your family needs.

Here are the excerpts:

“There is another admissions edge at many prestigious private colleges and universities that isn’t readily apparent, and it’s open even to those who are merely upper middle class.”

“You may tilt the scales in your favor if you can pay for tuition, room and board — up to $300,000 or so over four years — without needing financial aid.”

“Schools don’t talk about this much.”

“It’s not a great look, at least at first glance, and broadcasting it runs the risk of scaring lower-income applicants away from applying.”

“Still, savvy guidance counselors and private consultants know all about this advantage, one that is available at most private schools across the country, including selective institutions.”

“Among the schools that have such policies: American University, Bates, Boston University, Brandeis, Carleton, Case Western, Colgate, Colorado College, George Washington, Haverford, Macalester, Mount Holyoke, Northeastern, Oberlin, Pitzer, Reed, Skidmore, Smith, Tufts, Wesleyan and Washington University.”

“What do these schools — and so many others — have in common?”

“They all practice some version of “need-aware” or “need-sensitive” admissions.”

“(You may have heard of need-blind admissions, in which schools admit you regardless of whether you’re applying for aid.”

“Many of the schools with the biggest endowments do this, and will meet whatever financial need you demonstrate with plenty of scholarship money.”

“Others may tell you to take out a pile of loans.)”

“Need-aware schools don’t have unlimited aid budgets and generally don’t want to overload families with debt.”

“So they sometimes consider financial need when deciding whether to admit a student — even though they will often meet the full need of every admitted student.”

“It’s like a twisted, real-world SAT logic problem: You can get help if you’re admitted, but you might not be admitted if you need help.”

“Any notion that richer families might have an edge makes administrators squirm.”

“Paul Thiboutot, Carleton’s vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, told an in-house publication that he cried when the school went from need-blind to
need-aware in 1993, though he came to believe it was the right decision.”

“Plenty of schools don’t mention their need-aware status anywhere on their websites, even though this is one of the first questions many families would ask.”

“Bates, for example, calls itself need-aware on a page for international students, but the pages with frequently asked questions about financial aid and admissions don’t address whether this applies to domestic applicants.”

“I asked — repeatedly — for an answer I didn’t get one.”

“One notable exception is Oberlin, where a seven-year-old blog post by an admissions employee named Elizabeth Myers Houston offers a rare glimpse into the world of need

“’We do accept some students on the edge of admissibility because they can contribute to the costs of an Oberlin education,’ she wrote.”

“’On the other hand, we invariably find ourselves wait-listing or denying some students each year who are otherwise well qualified and appealing, due to a high level of financial need.’”

“And then, a wee bit of deserved shade cast on Oberlin’s silent peers: ‘Most schools do this, although, like those of us at Oberlin, most college reps will avoid talking about it like the plague. But we know. Savvy high school guidance counselors know as well, and sometimes they’ll even bring it up when talking to us about their students. In the spirit of fairness and equal distribution of information, I wanted to make sure that you know, too.’”

“Ms. Houston was not fired for her candor.”

“In fact, she is now Oberlin’s associate director of admissions.”

“I hoped to get her on the phone to do even more truth-telling, but she had time only for email this week.”

“’It’s hard to be on an admissions committee and have to make decisions based on financial need,’ said Ms. Houston, who said she was a Pell Grant recipient who was able to attend Oberlin only because of a generous financial aid package.”

“’When I would be in a committee that was deciding not to admit an otherwise well-qualified applicant due to financial need, I would find myself thinking, “That could have
been me.”’”

“Ms. Houston said she had been able to make peace with it, in part because keeping careful tabs on the budget allows Oberlin to be one of the schools that meets the
full financial need of everyone it admits.”

“Any family concerned about whether need-aware schools have a diversity problem should just ask.”

“Case Western’s number of underrepresented students has gone up in the two years since it moved to a need-aware policy.”

“Any discussion about need-aware schools starts to get muddy, however, when you talk about merit aid.”

“It is grant money — a discount off the full price, really — that has no relation to a family’s ability to pay.”

“And because of that, it fundamentally alters the definition of a full-pay family.”

“At the more selective schools that offer merit aid, a smaller percentage of students get it.”

“Those schools are often trying to lure the best applicants away from even more selective institutions.”

“At less selective schools, where the list price may start out much lower than the $75,000 the most expensive schools charge per year, nearly everyone may get merit aid.”

“The hope is that the more affluent families will feel great about a $20,000 discount while the school nets a student who is still paying more than most other attendees.”

“Those well-off students are attractive — and schools target them intensely, using consulting firms to blanket higher-income ZIP codes with marketing material.”

“I’m gleefully dodging (for now) the question of whether any of the undergraduate institutions I name-checked above are worth $300,000 or are $200,000 better than your flagship state university.”

“Still, to state what should be obvious but doesn’t seem to be anymore: Picking and paying for a school based solely on prestige is a pretty good way to increase your
odds of having a pretty bad four years — or maybe more than four, if you hate it and drop out or flunk out or transfer.”

Here’s the link to the entire article again:

Keep in mind, this article has a bit of a cynical overall feel to it.

Over the years, I’ve gotten many students LOTS of money to attend colleges that are need-aware and need-sensitive including Oberlin, American and Case Western.

Here are a list of examples:

If you’d like to find out if I can help you unlock five and six-figure scholarship and grant offers from colleges like the ones mentioned in this article, register for my upcoming webinar here:

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