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How much does "need aware" really impact admissions?

thirrdplanetthirrdplanet Posts: 674Registered User Member
I am specifically talking to LAC schools. My sister had difficulty getting into all that met 100% of need but were need aware. My question is, how much does it really impact admissions?


Also, how much can the definition of meeting full need from one school vary? I have heard some schools offering tens of thousands less or more even though they both claim to meet all need (let's assume no merit aid). Thoughts?
Post edited by thirrdplanet on
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Replies to: How much does "need aware" really impact admissions?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,573Registered User Senior Member
    Each institution will define your need according to a different formula so yes, the results often do vary widely and wildly.

    Need-aware institutions decide who they want, and whether or not that student's need is more than they want to pay to get that student. So again the results will vary wildly. There is no way to predict. Sorry.
  • Parent46Parent46 Posts: 168Registered User Junior Member
    I think in certain ways it can have a big effect on admission. My son applied to American and clearly had the stats to get in, but got turned down because we need a hefty amount of financial aid. They didn't want to offer the aid because he wasn't that stellar, and they wanted to keep their yield up, so they just rejected him.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 63,353Registered User Senior Member
    JMHO....but I think it works like this....

    If a student has lots of need and will cost the school about $200k for four years, then a need-aware school is going to "do the math" to determine if it's worth it to them in the long run to enroll and pay for such a student.

    A high-need student from a state that already sends a lot of students to a particular school won't be as desirable unless stats or hook are very attractive.

    A high-need student with average stats for the school that doesn't offer any other hook (ethnic, gender or regional diversity) isn't probably going to "worth it" to the school.

    However, a high-need student that has stellar stats that could likely win college awards and go on to a good grad school (PhD, MD, etc and be quite successful in career/life will help bring prestige to the school....and therefore is worth it.

    Same with a high-need student that adds regional, gender, or ethnic diversity. If a student helps a school's image by bettering its diversity reporting, then a school may feel it's worth it to "pay" for that student.


    Parent46 brings up a good point about American (which doesn't meet need). In her child's case, American likely determined that a "gapped FA pkg" would likely result in the student choosing to go elsewhere, and stats didn't warrant a great FA pkg, so to protect yield, he was rejected.

    That said, a good student with modest need (about $15k or less) that can be filled with a student loan, work-study, and a small grant might be easily affordable for a school.


    Schools have budgets and financial limitations just like families have. When making choices, they all have to look at the big picture....how much will that student (item) cost us? Is there another similar student (item) that will cost less?
  • thirrdplanetthirrdplanet Posts: 674Registered User Member
    I completely don't agree with the principle. It's just separating social classes and making that diversity way lower. Economic diversity is very important and some colleges are continuing on the bad cycle; accepting kids who can pay and rejecting those who can't. It seems ridiculous to me. I would assume under what you have said, I will "cost" institutions a lot even though I am middle class. This makes we worried for those with an even tougher situation than I am in, especially in these economic times.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 33,551Registered User Senior Member
    Need aware schools that meet need, have to decide how many students they can afford to fund and if what they bring with them to campus offsets the discount they will need to attend.
    Schools that don't meet need can just gap the students they aren't sure about.

    D applied to a school that was a reach, it also was need aware but it also pledged to meet 100% need. Her EFC was about 1/3 of COA. We knew that if she was accepted ( which was a stretch for grades & GPA although otherwise her application was strong), theoretically she could afford to attend.

    A school that didn't meet need but instead met 70% of need overall, could meet 100% of need for their strongest applicants and 30-50% of need for others (or less).

    Schools have budgets just like everyone else. Another school might have decided that D wasn't a good fit for their school academically/economically and gapped her or waitlisted her accordingly.
    However she did have enough in her application to make her a desirable candidate anyway.
    She had strong essays and recommendations from a good high school. She could show that she had strong interests and a good work ethic as evidenced by over 2000 hrs of volunteer work, and it was the only reach school on her list and clearly her top choice.
  • Sue22Sue22 Posts: 2,327Registered User Senior Member
    The way some need aware schools, particularly those that at some time have been need blind, do it is a combination of methods. As explained to me by a DOA at such a school, the top 70-80 percent of the pool being extended offers is admitted need blind. At this point the FA office computes the cost of admitting these students and determines how much of the financial aid budget is left. It's here that the process becomes need aware. The committee has to juggle the need of various students to compile the strongest class while still staying within the FA budget.

    As an illustration, if a school costing $40,000 is down to the last 10 admits and has $40,000 left, it can admit 1 kid with full need and 9 full pay, 4 who need $10,000 each and 6 full pay, or 10 kids who need only $4,000 each.

    The key for kids who need substantial aid at such schools is to be in that top part of the class that is admitted need blind.
  • Sue22Sue22 Posts: 2,327Registered User Senior Member
    To clarify, the school I'm thinking of scores kids and puts them into pools based on their desirability. Assuming a scale of 1-10, the 10s, 9s, and 8's, the kids with the strongest applications, would be admitted need blind. By the time the committee looks at the 7s, however, need comes into play. A full-pay 6 might be leapfrogged over a full-need 7. If you're a 8, 9 or 10 none of this will matter, but if you're a 7 with high need you could find yourself out of luck.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Posts: 12,242Registered User Senior Member
    So, number 1 is you have to be qualified and desirable- and that can be in many respects, usually more than just a stats match; it has to do with holistic. 1.a is account for the competition- their own desirability, something that makes them compelling admits. (And, where a substantial percent do not get admits, you are in a corner, to begin with.)

    All more or less and all depending. So, you really don't know exactly why a kid didn't get in.
  • Sue22Sue22 Posts: 2,327Registered User Senior Member
    In answer to the second part of the question, schools can vary widely in how they define meeting full need. In my mind the most important piece to look at is the proportions given as grants versus loans. A school can technically claim to meet full need while forcing a student to take on huge loans. I think the most important number to look at when comparing different schools' FinAid packages is one that doesn't get enough attention-the student indebtedness limit at graduation. I think some parents would be surprised to find that some private schools that appear extremely expensive can be a good deal in that they cap the debt they expect their students to take on.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    I completely don't agree with the principle. It's just separating social classes and making that diversity way lower. Economic diversity is very important and some colleges are continuing on the bad cycle; accepting kids who can pay and rejecting those who can't. It seems ridiculous to me.

    Wow. Just wow. I'm sorry that simple economics seem's "ridiculous" to you. You would like all the schools to accept any qualified student who applies without regard to finances. Okay, fine - then who pays for it? The schools sure as heck can't afford to underwrite every student who attends . . . they'd go bankrupt. So who do you propose should pay for your utopian system where any student can attend any school cost-free?

    The reality is that we're already underwriting the cost of higher education by funding our state schools. Sure, some are better than others, and many are not as affordable as they should be. Nonetheless, there are state-funded local options available for students who can't afford a private secondary school education.
  • ExhaustedDadExhaustedDad Posts: 184Registered User Junior Member
    Wow is right? The entitlement mentality has now spread to receiving a fully paid college education. That being said, much of those monies would come from the federal government in the form of grants, so we all end up paying something (at least the 53% who pay federal taxes do) to educate students from "low-income" families. I don't disagree that they should be subsidized, but they must have some skin in the game, otherwise where is the motivation (can you say Welfare......).

    Also, Junior Colleges are a very good, low cost proving ground for those motivated low-income students. If they do quite well at those JC's, then transferring to a four-year college shouldn't be a problem and then I wouldn't mind fully funding the tuition portion of that child's education.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 63,353Registered User Senior Member
    accepting kids who can pay and rejecting those who can't. It seems ridiculous to me


    Well, if you were running a business and you figured that you could afford to provide a number of discounts to X number of low-income customers, then it wouldn't be "ridiculous" for you to say that you can't provide those discounts to 2X number of low income customers.

    Guess what? Colleges don't have money trees either.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Posts: 23,001Registered User Senior Member
    I don't disagree that they should be subsidized, but they must have some skin in the game, otherwise where is the motivation

    The vast, vast, VAST majority of low-income kids at 4 year universities have a lot of skin in the game.

    ETA: To the OP, most full-need schools are extremely selective and everyone has a hard time getting in. Yes, need aware schools place weight on how much you can pay, but I wouldn't use your sister's admissions as a litmus test.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Posts: 12,242Registered User Senior Member
    I tht #5 just referred to the idea that the more schools accept on the basis of families that can afford full pay, the more we head back to education being for the wealty. I read "economc diversty," not free rides. Which, I think, is where we all stand. And, think he missed Mom2's point.
  • thirrdplanetthirrdplanet Posts: 674Registered User Member
    What I am trying to say, is this feeds the never ending cycle of wealthy kids going to fantastic private schools and landing a job or getting into law/medical/graduate school whereas lower income children, as you even suggested, go to a two year school and transfer to a four year, if they can even afford that. This student might have higher stats but they are rejected because they can't pay.

    I am sure some schools only take aid into account when it comes to the last few students they are admitting. However, there are those who I am sure toss out applications because the student is full need. On top of this, a low-income child may be forced to go to a public high school without good programs such as AP and IB and can't afford to have their parents pay tutors to get better scores on standardized tests. I'm not angry with the schools because of I understand they have budgets to meet. I'm angry at the never-ending system.
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