Colleges And Universities That Are Need Aware

Attending a four year college or university costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so considering all of your financial aid options before you apply is extremely important as you decide where you are interested in attending school.

Many colleges and universities have “need aware” financial aid, which can affect your decision to apply as well as your chance of admission. If you’re interested in need aware schools and learning what this financial aid policy means for you and the admissions process, read on!

What Does Need Aware Financial Aid Mean?

Need aware schools consider the financial situation of the applicant in their admissions decisions. 

This means they consider every applicant’s ability to pay tuition as a component of the admissions process. While all schools consider aspects of your life like course load, GPA, and test scores, need aware schools will also think about your family’s financial decision while they decide whether or not to admit you.

Need aware colleges and universities consider financial situations in their admissions process because they know that students who require a financial aid package will cost the school more money to attend compared to a student who will be able to pay the school’s tuition in full. This means that, hypothetically, if the college had to decide between two similar applicants, they might choose the one who requires less or no financial aid. Especially due to rising costs, need aware schools take into account the applicants’ ability to pay when they make their admission decisions. However, this does not mean that you should feel discouraged from applying to need aware schools!

As we mentioned above, colleges consider a wide range of different aspects of an application. Depending on how strong your application is (like having an exceptional GPA, high test scores, great teacher recommendation letters, etc), you might end up earning more scholarship money from need aware schools than need blind schools. 

While you should definitely consider applying to need aware schools, it may depend on your family’s personal financial status. For a list of need aware colleges and universities, see the next section! 

Need Aware Colleges And Universities: 2023 List

  • Abilene Christian University
  • Agnes Scott College
  • Allegheny College
  • Alma College
  • American University 
  • Aquinas College
  • Auburn University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Beloit College
  • Bennington College
  • Bentley University
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Berry College
  • Boston University
  • Bradley University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • Carleton College
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Centre College
  • Clark University
  • Clemson University
  • Colby College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • College of Wooster
  • Colorado College
  • Connecticut College
  • Creighton University
  • DePaul University
  • DePauw University
  • Dickinson College
  • Drexel University
  • Earlham College
  • Emerson College
  • Fairfield University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Furman University
  • George Washington University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Hampton University
  • Haverford College
  • Hendrix College
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Hofstra University
  • Howard University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Kenyon College
  • Knox College
  • Lafayette College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Loma Linda University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Macalester College
  • Marquette University
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • National University of Natural Medicine
  • Northeastern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Occidental College
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Pitzer College
  • Providence College
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Reed College
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Rhodes College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rollins College
  • Saint Joseph’s University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Scripps College
  • Seton Hall University
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Southwestern University
  • Spelman College
  • St. Olaf College
  • Stonehill College
  • The Catholic University of America
  • The New School
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • Trinity College
  • Trinity University
  • Tufts University
  • Union College
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Denver
  • University of Miami
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Puget Sound 
  • University of Rochester
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of St. Thomas
  • University of Tulsa
  • Villanova University
  • Wabash College
  • Washington & Jefferson College
  • Washington & Lee University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Wheaton College
  • Whitman College
  • Willamette University
  • Wofford College
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Need Aware Versus Need Blind

Most schools are likely to operate under either a need aware or need blind financial aid approach. Need aware financial aid, as you’ve read above, means that the college or university does consider the applicant’s financial status in their admissions decision. On the other hand, need blind financial aid means the school does not consider the applicant’s financial status.

Since need blind schools do not consider the financial status of their applicants, this means they might not be able to meet the full needs of their applicants through their financial aid packages. In many cases, if the school is not able to offer an aid package that meets the applicant’s full needs, they might offer the option to supplement the package through work study opportunities.

Need blind schools, since they do not consider the applicants’ financial status, might be a better option for students who require high financial aid packages. Again, this depends on everyone’s personal situation, but for the most part, need blind schools will definitely not “penalize” students’ applications on the basis of their financial needs. 

Many top colleges are need blind schools, and there are plenty of colleges and universities that have need blind admissions. 

Need Blind Colleges and Universities

If you’re interested in applying to need blind colleges and universities, here is a list of a few well known schools that are need blind. This list is not completely comprehensive, so if there is a college you’re interested in that is not included on this list, look up the school and navigate to their financial aid page! You should be able to find all of their financial aid information listed on their website.

  • Princeton University: a private, Ivy League institution located in Princeton, New Jersey 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a private, highly prestigious university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  • Stanford University: a private, highly prestigious university located in Stanford, California
  • Harvard University: a private, Ivy League institution located in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Yale University: a private, Ivy League institution located in New Haven, Connecticut 
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech): a private, highly prestigious university located in Pasadena, California 
  • University of Pennsylvania (UPenn): a private, Ivy League institution located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
  • Rice University: a private, highly prestigious university located in Houston, Texas
  • Vanderbilt University: a private, highly prestigious university located in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Columbia University: a private, Ivy League institution located in New York City, New York
  • Carnegie Mellon University: a private, highly prestigious university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
  • Florida State University: a public university located in Tallahassee, Florida
  • University of Notre Dame: a private Catholic university located on a suburban campus in Notre Dame, Indiana 

Should You Go To Need Aware Colleges?

This depends on a variety of factors, including but not necessarily limited to: 

  • Your high school course load (what kinds of classes you are taking, how many AP classes you’ve taken, etc.)
  • Your high school grade point average (GPA)
  • Your SAT or ACT test scores
  • Your academic achievements, like any previous scholarships earned, honors, or awards
  • Your extracurricular activities 
  • Your leadership roles and experience 
  • Your teacher recommendation letters 
  • Your personal statement or supplemental essays 
  • Your family’s financial status and ability to pay tuition 

If you have spoken with your family and guidance counselor and think you have a very strong application for a need aware school, you should apply regardless of your family’s financial status. 

However, if you require a large financial aid package and believe that you might be applying to a “reach” school (meaning the school’s average admitted student has a higher GPA/test scores/etc than you), then you might want to speak with your guidance counselor or another trusted source about the best strategy moving forward. 

There are also other options you can consider to help pay for college, such as applying to scholarships. We have several articles to help you if you’re thinking of taking this route (and why not? It’s free money!) – this one has a list of scholarships for students with a 30 ACT score, and this one is a guide to Florida’s Bright Futures Program, which can fund up to 100% of your tuition.

How To Prepare For Need Aware Colleges

If your dream school is a need aware college or university, here are a few things you need to think about before you apply!

Estimate The Cost Of Education

Depending on your family’s financial situation, you should think about how much of the tuition your family would be able to pay. Each school’s tuition is different, so look on each college’s website and find out their estimated tuition. From there, have a conversation with your parents or guardians about your ability to pay.

Once you have an idea about how much financial aid you would require, then you can begin thinking about how your financial need might affect your application. 

Focus On Your GPA

Depending on how long you have to prepare before you officially apply to colleges, you should focus on your grades and maintain a high GPA. Making sure that your application is as strong as it can be is extremely important, whether you’re applying to a need blind or need aware school. 

In addition to maintaining your GPA, you should think about your application holistically and again focus on how to make your application stand out. 

Prepare For The SAT Or ACT Exam

Like your GPA, your SAT or ACT scores are components of your application that colleges will consider when weighing your application. Having an impressive SAT or ACT score can boost your application, so preparing for either exam can really help you stand out. 

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About The Author

Emily is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and will be working as a Marketing Analyst in New York City after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys painting and playing the guitar.

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