Will Needing Financial Aid Hurt Your Chances for Getting Into a Private College?

More college applicants are applying for financial aid, yet less money seems to be available to help those who need assistance. How are private colleges dealing with this dilemma? The Education Insider reviews admission trends and practices impacting applicants needing financial aid.

By Erin Tigro


Need-Blind Versus Need-Aware

Several renowned private colleges and universities claim to look beyond an applicant's need when considering acceptance. Even today, in the midst of economic distress, many of these private institutions continue to adhere to this 'need-blind' approach. Other colleges that may have previously been need-blind are more closely assessing applicants toward the end of admission periods, as slots and resources dwindle. Considering an applicant's need (or lack of need) may be even more closely scrutinized when GPA and academic achievement are average. For instance, compare two applicants, both of whom have similar marginal grades and standardized test scores; a college may then look to finances as a deciding factor.

How Changes May Be Affecting Needy Applicants

Besides obtaining support from endowments, private schools depend on those students who pay full price in order to offset the loss of funds from those who don't. So, while it doesn't seem that private schools are purposefully blacklisting need-based applicants, they may be hurting them by default by giving more opportunities to full-pay students. These generally include applicants from abroad and those who have been put on waiting lists. Still, many private schools want to shine as centers of diversity, so they need students from different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Consequently, schools like Yale and Stanford are trying to promote accessibility by increasing tuition for wealthier students, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

What's the Worst-Case Scenario?

If you truly can't afford to attend college on your own, then you have no choice but to apply for financial aid. But don't let the trend deter you from applying to your dream school. If you're seriously concerned that your need for aid could harm your chances of getting in, consider applying for merit-based grants or scholarships. One of the more popular college scholarship search engines is Fastweb, which narrows types of awards you may qualify for based on ethnicity, cultural background, hobbies, community service and intended major.

Are you interested in getting more information concerning financial aid? Read on for details about new college loans designed for private school applicants.

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