Does not needing financial aid/ scholarship increase or decrease your chance of admission?

Doesn’t apply to me, was just curious if anyone had any idea. Thanks

It depends on if the school is need-blind or need-aware. If blind, it won’t affect your decision at all, but if they are need-aware then it will hold some weight in the decision. Most top schools are need-blind.

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For clarification: “Top Colleges” mean the top 40 or so, give or take a few outliers in either direction. The vast majority of private universities in America who provide a significant amount of need-based aid to students are need-aware. That means applicants who are able to pay the full price get a boost when it come to being admitted.

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My niece was asked to confirm she was not in need of financial aid by Wake Forest and the University of Richmond (deferred at WF, got into UR, her stats were low for both).


I personally believe that the whole concept of ‘need blind’ is a bunch of b.s. These schools can tell a lot based on where you come from, what high school you go to etc. Never mind that you have to indicate on the common application whether you are applying for FA. Even the very best colleges with the biggest endowments are run like businesses. Businesses do not survive by giving away their money.


I thought only International applicants fall under need aware in many schools.

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Not at schools like Yale where well over half (64% the last time I looked) of undergrads receive need based financial aid packages averaging >$50k.


Cornell said in a blog that for international students, those who did not apply for financial aid would have a bigger chance to get in than those who did. This might also apply to most need-aware schools, at least for international applicants

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Let me clarify. I don’t believe that “need” has no impact on who gets in. I believe that even schools like Yale can only afford to invest so many dollars in financial aid. If your need is great, then you better be significantly better than their average applicant or have some other hook otherwise you are out of luck. I also believe that what the college determines to be your families “need” is affected by how much the school wants your son or daughter. Anecdotally, my oldest son was accepted at multiple colleges that would be categorized as most selective. The financial aid packages were all over the map. And when I say all over the map, I am talking about $25K differences. This was all need based aid! I believe that better endowed schools do their best to take a variety of kids from a variety of economic backgrounds but I think it’s naive to believe that money doesn’t play a role, because in this country it always does.

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The admissions department decides whether to admit or not admit. Then the fin aid office calculates a fin aid package. Two accepted students with the same financial need will get the same package even if the the admissions committee is sure one is guaranteed Phi Beta Kappa and likely a future Noble winner, while the other is just an average great student who tics their geographic diversity box.

The fact that different need blind and meets needs schools calculate what that means in ways that produce differing results does not mean that they gauge awards to discourage students from attending after already deciding to admit them.

Is it a good thing for a high financial needs applicant to also be an academic super-star with national or international level awards and achievements that are likely to land them multiple cross admits across HYPM? Of course.

Nothing motivates one of those schools to re-evaluate upwards a financial aid award when presented with written proof of a better award from one of their peers.

I share your skepticism towards even “most selective” schools that have ED programs -as opposed to EA. Even if an ED school claims to be need blind/meet full need, they have the student and family over-the-barrel if the student applied/was accepted ED.

The elite EA schools, on the other hand, at least in my family’s experience, were very fair and accommodating in terms of financial aid offers.

I think EA schools are also better with the fin aid for kids accepted in the RD round than ED schools are for their RD admits.

Why trust any school, no matter how selective that wants to hold a kid’s college choice hostage in return for a higher chance of admission?

Did they claim to meet 100% need?

Even schools that say they meet 100% of need may offer dramatically different aid packages, because the schools differ in how they define and calculate need and differ in how much aid they can afford to give. Both of my kids were accepted by several “full need” schools, and in both cases the price we were expected to pay varied by $15-20k among schools.

One of the known differences in FA forumulas is the way that they use home equity. If you have a lot of home equity you could get very different results at different schools.

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