The Ivy Coach Daily

November 26, 2021

International Applicants Applying for Financial Aid

Brown University is forthright about being need-award for international applicants, not need-blind (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

Many high school seniors are under the assumption that the college to which they’re applying is need-blind, meaning the college doesn’t take into account the student’s family’s ability to pay when weighing the student’s case for admission. And why do these students hold this assumption? Because admissions officers at these institutions so often tell them so, because it so often states as much on the college’s admissions website, and so on. In the vast majority of these cases, of course, the student’s assumption is wrong. The vast majority of America’s colleges — even the elite ones — are not need-blind, no matter how much and how loudly they might insist to the contrary. Rather, they’re need-aware. Think about it. If they were truly need-blind, would so many colleges ask on their application if a student needs financial aid, an application admissions officers can read with their own two eyes? Of course not!

And, of course, international applicants to America’s colleges who apply for financial aid make the biggest mistake of all. Why’s that? Because colleges want full-paying students and if they’re going to admit a student who isn’t a full-pay, you can bet they’d prefer that student to be an underrepresented minority, and/or a low-income applicant, and/or a first-generation student from the United States of America. Colleges do not want to earmark their financial aid dollars for students from other countries, particularly when some of this money is subsidized by the United States government. Some schools, like Brown University as but one example, are more forthright about this than others. Brown is openly need-aware for internationals, while claiming to be need-blind for domestic applicants. In short, when it comes to financial aid, it’s American students who get first dibs over students hailing from other countries — and rightly so.

In our experience, many international applicants apply for financial aid not even because they need the money to attend college in the United States. Rather, they apply for financial aid because they think it’s prestigious to receive money. They think of this money as “scholarship money.” But it’s not scholarship money. The Ivy League schools don’t even offer scholarships. And even if these students did receive financial aid, they might get very little money from the institution, a trivial amount that isn’t worth hurting their case for admission. And in many cases, they don’t even qualify for financial aid. So they’re essentially jeopardizing their case for admission in return for nothing. It’s absolutely crazy if you ask us!

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