I am double checking on the Carleton financial aid in relationship to admissions for US residents. They do not seem to make it clear if they are need blind or need aware in admissions. Their literature mentions that they meet the full demonstrated need of every admitted student but is need considered in the admissions decision? Does it help if the student is applying ED?
What I've heard is that they are need blind to a point. I think they say that for 90% of their applicants they are need blind, but for the remaining 10% they are need aware. I'm not exactly sure what this means, if they only start being need aware when they run out of money, or if the top 90% of admitted applicants are need blind, and need aware for the bottom 10% are need aware.
This question came up in the info session we attended today at Carleton. They are NOT need blind. The person doing the session said that they consider need for about 15% of the applicants (so it sounds like the top 85% are need blind, then if you are in that 15% "on the bubble", it becomes a consideration).
Carleton is need aware but there's no single quantitative answer anyone can offer as to just how need aware it is.
In the years leading up to the recession, up to 99% of Carleton admissions decisions were made need-blind (in fact, several years ago, the school was 100% need-blind). But in the past few years, with ever increasing numbers of students applying for aid, all colleges' finances have been strained. Because of this, that 1% need-aware number has had to move up towards 10% so as not to threaten reserves.
And then, Carleton:
1) Guarantees to meet 100% of financial need to all students admitted, for all four years, even if aid was not initially requested. A tough standard in these dire times.
2) Has historically had one of the highest percentages of students needing and receiving aid among the most competitive LACs - just the nature of the population it tends to draw. That economic diversity has been a source of pride to the administration, but you can understand the inherent risks if left uncontrolled at times such as these. Schools like Amherst, Williams and Swarthmore have always attracted wealthier student bodies and actually years ago mounted campaigns to aggressively seek out those from more modest economic backgrounds to more broadly diversify their campuses.
If your stats put you toward the borderline lower end of the applicant pool, financial need may come into play in admissions. Top 90% or so - will not be at issue as Clevelandude has already pointed out. I certainly wish that 90% could be 100% once again. But then I wish the economy could be as it was once again. Maybe Congress will learn to play nice, sing Kumbaya in the round, and make partisanship a four letter word. Well, one can always hope.
Our son is a freshman this year. He was admitted from EDII application pool. His stats are in the middle 50% of the published profile of class of 2015. I don't think need came into play when he applied but I have no facts to prove it.
Carleton met 100% of our demonstrated need when we applied for financial aid.
If you look at financial aid facts, it is pretty much right on for us.
I've explored this LAC merit aid issue pretty thoroughly, as my D has got the stats to get into a top-tier LAC, but we're not sure we want to pay full-boat. If you're looking for LAC's that don't feel like much of a compromise in quality and selectivity relative to a place like Carleton, the ones mentioned by dadx3 are among my favorites.
Also check out Davidson, Kenyon, Colorado College and Macalester. If you're really hot stuff, Clarement McKenna offers some merit money, too, but I've gotta believe you have to have a heckuva resume to get money from them, since it's very selective just to get in.
Personally, I'm especially fond of Whitman. A lot of kids who go to Carleton had Whitman high on their list, according to a student we talked to when we were there. My D is applying there, and it will get serious consideration if they offer her merit money.
Consider College of Wooster and St. Olaf. Both award merit scholarships and both have great, engaged students. Daughter at College of Wooster received wonderful scholarship and she loves Wooster. Son attended Carleton and loved but we knew there would be no merit scholarship awarded.
Great merit aid offered by some of the women's colleges - check out Scripps, Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, and Smith - Scripps merit aid deadline approaching (11/15). Our son is at Carleton, and our daughter is at Scripps.