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A Guide to Need-Blind Schools + Complete List

Just because a student is qualified doesn’t mean they’ll get into their dream school. Colleges base their decisions on many factors, from grades to fit to letters of recommendation. Unfortunately, some colleges also base their decision on a student’s ability to pay tuition.


In fact, top students sometimes refrain from applying to certain schools because the ability to pay is factored into admissions decisions. According to a Kaplan survey from 2015, 25% of college admissions officers report feeling pressured to admit less-qualified applicants because of family connections. Moreover, applying for aid can actually hurt a student’s odds of acceptance. While a CNN Money article from 2016 notes that not applying for financial aid is unlikely to get you into a top college if you aren’t qualified, it can certainly boost your application.


Fortunately, not all colleges consider financial factors when deciding which students to accept. With need-blind admissions, colleges evaluate only the non-financial parts of a student’s application package, such as GPA, test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. In some cases, this policy applies only to U.S. applicants, but some colleges use need-blind admissions for international students as well.


What Is the Difference Between Schools That Meet 100% of Demonstrated Need and Need-Blind Schools?


A need-blind school isn’t necessarily committed to meeting 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need. In other words, a student may be accepted to a need-blind college, but have to turn down the admissions offer due to inability to pay. That said, many need-blind schools are also known for their generous financial aid programs.


Even if colleges practice need-blind admissions and meet 100% of demonstrated need, they may still include loans as part of their financial aid packages. Schools with the most generous financial aid will often be no-loan, need-blind, and meet 100% of demonstrated need. To recap, here are the definitions of these three financial aid policies:


  • No-loan schools offer students financial assistance through grants and scholarships, not federal student loans.


  • Need-blind schools make admissions decisions without considering a student’s financial circumstances or ability to pay tuition.


  • Schools that meet 100% of demonstrated need ensure accepted students receive sufficient grants, scholarships, and in some cases federal loans to attend.


List of Need-Blind Schools


The following schools have a need-blind policy when evaluating applicants. It’s worth noting that not all the schools on this list also meet 100% of students’ demonstrated need and are no-loan.


Adrian College

Amherst College

Babson College

Barnard College

Baylor University

Biola University

Boston College

Boston University

Bowdoin College

Brandeis University

Brown University

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Carnegie Mellon University

Chapman University

Claremont McKenna College

Columbia University

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Cornell College

Cornell University

Dartmouth College

Davidson College

Denison University

DePaul University

Duke University

Elon University

Emory University

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)

Florida State University

Fordham University

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Georgetown University

Grinnell College

Hamilton College

Harvard University

Harvey Mudd College

Haverford College

Hiram College

Jewish Theological Seminary

Johns Hopkins University


Kenyon College

Lawrence University

Lehigh University

Lewis & Clark College

Marist College

Marlboro College

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Middlebury College

Mills College

Mount St. Mary’s College

New York University (NYU)

North Carolina State University (NCSU)

North Central College

Northeastern University

Northwestern University

Penn State

Pomona College

Princeton University

Providence College

Randolph College

Rice University

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU)

Salem College

San Jose State University (SJSU)

Soka University of America

St. John’s College

St. Olaf College

Stanford University

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Swarthmore College

Syracuse University

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)

Thomas Aquinas College

Trinity University

Tufts University

Tulane University

University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business

University of Miami

University of New Hampshire

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Notre Dame

University of Pennsylvania

University of Richmond

University of Rochester

University of Southern California (USC)

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

University of Washington

Ursuline College

Vanderbilt University

Vassar College

Wabash College

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Wellesley College

Wesleyan University

Williams College

Yale University

Yeshiva University


What Else Do You Need to Know About Financial Aid When Applying to College?


Students applying to need-blind institutions still need to submit their FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Colleges will use this information to calculate an individual’s EFC, or expected family contribution. EFC is based on an array of factors, including family size, income, assets, benefits, and whether or not there are other family members in college.


Students with lower EFCs generally receive more aid than those with higher EFCs. If a gap exists between EFC and what the college is willing to pay, students may have to apply for scholarships, or take out loans to make up the difference.


For More Information


To learn more about financing a college degree, check out our blog posts:


No-loan Colleges: What They Are and a Complete List

Schools that Meet 100% of Demonstrated Financial Need

This Family Got an Additional $11k/Year in Merit Aid—Here’s How

What Does it Really Cost to Attend Harvard?


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.