Need Blind Admission is a Farce

Need Blind Admission, Need Blind Admissions, Admission with Financial Aid

Yes, need blind admission is a farce. Much like Santa Claus (photo credit: chensiyuan).

Yes, you read that correctly. Need blind admission is a farce. A total, absolute farce. We’ve been saying it for years but we’ll say it again because you’d be amazed how many parents call us and ask, “Do you think the fact that I checked that my daughter needs financial aid but we probably don’t hurt her candidacy?” The answer is an absolute, resounding, “Yes!” Students of Ivy Coach would never make this mistake because they know that need blind admission is as true and real as Santa Claus.

If you don’t believe us and are thinking to yourselves, “But how can colleges get away with lying like that,” approach the question from a logical perspective. That’s always the good approach. Consider this: If a college were need blind, then theoretically they could admit a class in which 95% of students need financial aid. If 95% of an incoming class needed financial aid, that college would be in major trouble. Colleges need tuition. That’s why colleges charge such hefty fees. They need it to sustain all that they do — for the new libraries, for landing the top professor of urban geography, and for that brand new football stadium in the works. If colleges didn’t have enough students paying tuition, they’d have to dip into their endowments and no college — no college — wants to dip into their endowment.

That’s really all there is to it. If you think that your checking that you need financial aid didn’t hurt your daughter’s case for admission to a highly selective college, your naiveté is sweet but, in the end, it’s just that — naiveté. We’re sorry to break this news to you but one of the chief purposes of our college admissions blog is to keep highly selective colleges honest, debunk myths related to college admissions, and correct misconceptions. Need blind admissions is a myth. An absolute myth.


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  • Mary says:

    At most selective need blind schools, do you think it will matter if student’s EFC is around 60K but she checks the “need financial aid” box?

    • Bev Taylor says:

      Hi Mary,

      There are no selective need blind schools. It’s a myth perpetuated by colleges, the press, and more. Checking the box influences one’s candidacy.

  • Brown and Cornell mom says:

    Well…some students who need financial aid get accepted, because colleges need their diversity! I will remember to congratulate my son and daughter again because they got in to Ivies and got generous amounts of financial help. Note to parents: if you need financial aid be honest and apply, it will not hurt your student.

    • Bev Taylor says:

      Absolutely! Some students who need financial aid do indeed gain admission. Of course they do! Many students do. Much money from college tuition, for example, is allocated to helping students who need financial aid.

      But that doesn’t counter our point. Colleges are not need-blind. They can’t admit an incoming class in which everyone needs financial aid. They’d be in big trouble if they did!

  • Brown and Cornell mom says:

    Agreed. At the super selective colleges, they probably have a percentage of full paying students to be sure to admit. But your chances of competing with other need kids is the same as your chances competing with full payers due to the tens of thousands of apps! I just don’t believe that checking the FA box hurts your chances of admission, and I was getting that impression in the article. Colleges probably would never admit all top full paying kids and have a 0% FA number – so I guess you can decide which kids you’d rather compete with!??

    • Bev Taylor says:

      You wrote: “But your chances of competing with other need kids is the same as your chances competing with full payers due to the tens of thousands of apps!”

      This is false. Students who check that box that they need financial aid are at a disadvantage in the highly selective college admissions process.

      • Tommy says:

        Ivy as well? Just did ED and figured we might get only 10K so we checked no financial aid. If it was 20k or something we may have checked yes we need it.

  • Rosemary Laberee says:

    I am glad to finally see this in print. Next year I will have two kids in Ivies. Having toured so many of these campuses and having been so wowed by the resources and wealth in evidence, I have long wondered this: If the school is so rich and if the school is need-blind, why do they ask if financial aid is needed on the application? After all, if they are ignoring need entirely, as they say they are, then they must also be in a position to cover the tuition for all the kids they hand pick. So, why ask at all?

    Question – if you do in fact need financial aid, is it advisable to not check this box? If the student is accepted, and the need for aid becomes obvious, does it become a problem?

    Thanks, as always, for shining a light into the dark corners of competitive university admissions !


    • Bev Taylor says:

      Hi Ro,

      You make an excellent point! If colleges are truly need blind, why have a box on the application? We could not agree more.

      As to your question, if you truly do need financial aid, you do need to check that box.

  • another obsessive parent says:

    Is the student at an advantage if you complete the FAFSA, in order to demonstrate that there is no financial need?

  • Lis Quirogia says:

    How much is a student disadvantaged needing financial aid, Bev? I wondered in all your years of expertise if you could quantify this somehow?? I can’t tell you how sad our Valedictorian daughter (URM with 34 ACT) to get rejected from every reach she applied 8/8 and settled for her safety. We needed tremendous FA and did not apply via Questbridge, unfortunately. We saw things too late!

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