Need-blind Admissions and International Students

Funding, Scholarships & Financial Aid

Need-blind Admissions and International Students

Conversations surrounding financial aid tend to happen a little before it is time to submit most applications. However, I often find that--perhaps because of the stress involved in discussing money--many times students don't feel comfortable talking honestly about finances. This means the questions you want and should not always ask are the ones that get asked.

Check out this quick Q & A. However, note that the financial aid conversations below are mostly targeted to students looking to finance their undergraduate education in the US.

Q. What is need-blind admissions?

A. Need-Blind admission is a termed coined in the United States that refers to a college admissions policy under which colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning will not consider your financial situation when deciding whether to grant you admission.

Q. Should I indicate that I need financial aid if I am an international student?

A. Honesty is a good policy to have when it comes to financial aid, because schools cannot help you without knowing the full situation. And, even schools without explicit policies in place will work hard to bring in a student they're genuinely interested in.

As an international student, considerations are different and knowing what type of school you're disclosing to can make a difference, even if it is just for your peace of mind. In this case, finding schools that are need-blind can be critical. In many cases, to get a visa you have to be able to proof financial support and schools can definitely help. All in all, remember that as an international student, you're not eligible for Federal or State financial aid, so appealing to your schools will be key. This starts with communication.

Q. So, does this mean if I get in, I'll get all the financial help I need?

A. . Not exactly. As a low-income student, I actively sought out need-blind admission institutions. However, I also Looked for 100% Need Met Financial institutions. What's the Difference? Institutions that Fall under this term take need -blind admissions a step further. If you get in--regardless of your ability to pay--and can show through financial aid applications that you have a certain level of need, whatever that level may be, the institution will provide scholarships and maybe some loans to help you achieve your target amount (full need). Not all schools with this policy will extend it to international students, so the list is small.

Q. I don't have high-levels of financial need--does knowing this even matter to me?

A. If money is a big consideration (and it should always be, because money you do not spend towards your undergraduate degree can help for a post-graduate one), you need to search for schools that use both policies. You'll notice that some institutions use both and have already things in common--starting with large endowments, generous merit scholarships, and strong recruitment and outreach for students coming from lower-income families. Many are highly ranked institutions and private.

BUT whether your financial need is BIG or SMALL, you should be looking into these institutions. Why? Because of some of the things mentioned above: big endowments and scholarships.

Hint: Did you know the bulk of large scholarships are given out by private, higher-learning institutions?

Q. Should I only apply to institutions that fall under these categories?

A. This will depend on the priority you give to your college admissions financial aid in process.

I did not only apply to 100% financial need met or need-blind institutions, even though money was a big consideration in my college application process. Instead, I applied to a wide variety of institutions, from top public universities to liberal Arts colleges (all across the ranking spectrum) and Ivy League institutions, mostly to find a good balance between federal financial aid, scholarship offers, and special considerations at lower-ranked schools. Ultimately, though, I ended up with a great offer: a full -Ride merit scholarship at the University of Richmond--a need-Blind and 100% financial need-met institution.