If you dream of going to Princeton or Harvard but think they’re only for rich kids, you need to think again.
That assumption is common — and false. And it could prevent you from attending the school of your dreams.
The truth is these elite universities offer “need-blind admissions” — a practice every student should know about.
What are need-blind admissions?
In addition to your grades, extracurriculars, test scores, and essays, colleges look at another factor when deciding whether to admit you: your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA, which outlines your family’s financials, helps schools determine how much you’d be able to pay. It matters because each college has a limited amount of money — and therefore can admit only a certain number of students who will need significant financial aid.
At least that’s how it works at the vast majority of colleges across the country. The process is different at the approximately 100 schools that practice need-blind admissions.
At these need-blind schools, the admissions offices are totally separate from the financial aid offices, meaning no one sees your FAFSA until you’ve been admitted to the school.
Translation? If you have the chops, you’ll get in — no matter how much money you have.
Which schools offer need-blind admission?
These need-blind schools aren’t no-name universities; they include the most elite colleges in the country, such as Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and Stanford. (For a full list, visit Edvisors.)
These top-notch schools are able to offer need-blind admissions because of their massive endowments — investment funds bankrolled by donations, mostly from alumni.
Princeton’s endowment, for example, is valued at $22.8 billion. In other words, it doesn’t depend on each student’s tuition money for its survival.
That’s why some schools take it a step further. In addition to being need-blind, 66 schools claim to meet 100 percent of “demonstrated financial need.”
Here’s what that means.
Let’s say, based on your FAFSA, the government determines your family can afford to pay $10,000 per year toward your college education. And your chosen school, Teletubby University, costs $50,000 per year.
If it meets 100 percent of demonstrated need, it will offer you a package of grants and scholarships, work-study, and student loans worth the difference of $40,000 per year. So there won’t be any scrambling to figure out where the money will come from each semester.
Best of all are schools with a “no-loans policy.” Their financial aid packages consist entirely of grants, scholarships, and work-study — which, unlike student loans, you don’t have to pay back.
While some colleges extend this policy only to students from low-income families, others offer it to anyone with a gap between what their family can pay and what the college costs.
For a comprehensive list of these colleges and their policies, check out this article from PrepScholar.
How could need-blind admission help you?
If you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, this is big news: The schools that offer the best education also might be the most affordable.
So when you’re applying to colleges, don’t overlook the prestigious institutions. They could, after all, end up being cheaper than a state school.
All you have to do now is get in.
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