More colleges are becoming ‘need aware’

by Grace

Do your chances of college admission decrease if you need financial aid?  The answer is a qualified “maybe”.  According to Paul Sullivan writing in the New York Times, more private colleges are becoming “need aware”.

Still, the vote by the board of trustees at Grinnell, a liberal arts college in Iowa, reflects a broader trend in financial aid. The college counselors I spoke to this week said the majority of colleges had already downgraded their policies to “need aware” — meaning that the colleges accept most of their students without looking at their need for aid but will consider financial need for some percentage of the applicants. Others are already considering a parent’s ability to pay in many of their admissions decisions.

This issue matters the most for marginal students, who should understand that their ability to pay could factor into how attractive they are to a school.

As colleges continue to deal with losses in their endowments from 2008, they have less money to offer as financial aid….

So while more colleges are considering the financial need of their applicants, highly qualified students, no matter their finances, will still be admitted. And wealthier families, an education consultant told Paul, should realize that their children are competing against students of similar wealth.

Applicants can signal their ability to pay full tuition to a college, which may give them an edge in gaining admission.

… Admissions officials can usually figure out fairly quickly who needs aid and who doesn’t.

“It will be obvious because they didn’t file a financial aid form,” Belinda Stern, an education consultant on Mercer Island, Wash., said. “Some people are a little more brazen and want to make it clear to the college that they are willing to pay the full ride and come right out and say it.”

All this is irrelevant for most applicants since they have no choice because they simply need the financial aid, as this comment explains.

… Who ignores financial aid? Only the very wealthy. Only if you have saved over $200K per child. Only if your income is consistently over $250,000 or so.

The rest of us don’t have the option of “ignoring” financial aid. We fill out the FAFSA and the profile in the hopes that the financial aid gods will smile on us and offer our children some money for their education. We don’t wonder if the “full-pay” kids have a better chance of admission–we know they do!

My 3 children chose their colleges based on who offered them the best aid package, period. And they are doing fine.

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