Complete List of Need-Blind Colleges in the US

Young woman holding money
Updated:
December 7, 2023
4 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 12/7/23

It’s no secret that college is expensive. Most students need to save up a college fund to cover the cost. Read on to learn about need-blind colleges and how they can help you!

College finances are crucial, and many schools consider your financial info from the FAFSA when admitting students. To offset high costs and make college more accessible, some schools take an approach that focuses on admitting students based on their qualifications rather than their finances.

For many expensive top universities in the US, being need-blind is a must for a fair shot at admission, ensuring fairness for less affluent students. Wondering what this really means? We've got the answer for you below! We’ll also offer a list of need-blind colleges in the United States below.

What Are Need-Blind Colleges?

Need-blind colleges admit students without considering their ability to pay tuition fees. They don’t allow financial information to affect their application decision. You'll have to provide financial documents such as the FAFSA, CSS profile, or university-specific forms. At a need-blind college, they'll assess your financial aid package after admitting you.

By doing so, these universities attract more students needing financial aid and make their applications more competitive. Students should know if their college is need-blind, as it may help when picking what university they want to attend. 

However, most colleges fall into the need-aware category rather than need-blind, meaning that they do account for student finances when considering applications. Going to need-blind universities places more of a financial burden on the school. 

So, while it’s important to apply to colleges regardless of needs status to have more options, it’s a plus for a school to be need-blind. 

Private colleges are more able to be need-blind than public. They can do this because they take many private donations from their alumni for current students. While public schools offer university financial aid and scholarships, taking out a government student loan is more available for students and less costly for a public school.

Many need-blind universities also promise to meet 100% of their applicants’ demonstrated financial need. This means that it may be possible to get a full-ride scholarship to a need-blind college of your choice.

Male student holding cash

Breaking Down the Three Types of Need-Blind Financial Aid Programs

Category 1: Full Need, No Loans Schools

These colleges are known for their commitment to meeting a student's full financial need without including loans in the financial aid package. That means they use grants, scholarships, and work-study programs to pay for your tuition, room, board, and more. The goal is to let you graduate without a mountain of debt.

Category 2: Full Need With Loans Schools

These colleges also commit to meeting your full financial need, but they might include loans in your aid package. So, while they try to ease the financial load, you might still have some student loans to deal with after graduation. However, these schools typically offer competitive financial aid packages to minimize loan dependency.

Category 3: No Guaranteed Financial Aid Schools

In this group, colleges don't promise to cover all your financial needs. They might have need-blind admissions, but they can't provide substantial aid to everyone. So, if you get in, you might have to rely more on outside scholarships, loans, or your own funds to pay for college.

When you're looking at colleges, it's crucial to figure out which category they fall into. Understanding their financial aid policies can help you plan better for your education costs. And don't forget to explore scholarships and other aid options to lighten the financial load.

Complete List of Need-Blind Colleges In the US

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
Adrian College Unknown
Amherst College* $66,930
Antioch College $28,364
Babson College $42,635
Barnard College $60,320
Baylor University $27,743
Berea College $51,196
Biola University $27,602
Boston College $49,872
Boston University $57,882
Bowdoin College* $8,950 to $82,900
Brandeis University N/A
Brown University* $59,928
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo N/A
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) $63,160
Carnegie Mellon University $52,524
Chapman University $23,339
Claremont McKenna College $59,387
Colby College $68,556
Colgate University $62,652

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
College of the Ozarks $13,080
College of William and Mary Unknown
Columbia University* $62,850
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art $47,783
Cornell College $36,538
Cornell University* $55,325
Curtis Institute of Music $14219
Dartmouth College* $67,140
Davidson College* $52,871
Denison University $42,723
DePaul University $29,206
Duke University* $57,399
Elon University $18,212
Emory University $52,097
Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) $29,822
Florida State University $10,796
Fordham University Unknown
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering $55,978
Georgetown University $48,170
Georgia Institute of Technology $14,927

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
Grinnell College $65,441
Hamilton College $54,417
Harvey Mudd College $53,624
Harvard University* $64,500
Haverford College $61,802
Hiram College $17,610
Ithaca College $31,969
Jewish Theological Seminary $34,706
Johns Hopkins University $60,000
Julliard $42,500
Kenyon College $52,164
Lafayette College* $48,662
Lawrence University $38,953
Lehigh University $50,099
Lewis & Clark College $44,726
Marist College $24,097
Marlboro College Unknown
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)* $63,729
Middlebury College $60,444
Mount St. Mary's College $26,352

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
New York University (NYU) $53,790
Northeastern University $52,846
Northwestern University* $57,000
Olin College $55,978
Penn State - University Park $7,923
Pomona College* $61,637
Princeton University* $62,200
Providence College $35,179
Purdue University $11,985
Randolph College $23,249
Rice University* $58,740
Saint Louis University $38,953
San Jose State University $11,684
Santa Clara University $35,551
Southern Methodist University (SMU) $44,517
Soka University of America $27,017
St. John's College $29,115
St. Olaf College $35,042
Stanford University* $68,308
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry $7,947

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
Swarthmore College* $62,988
Syracuse University $39,480
Texas Christian University (TCU) $40,747
The College of New Jersey $14,402
Thomas Aquinas College $16,821
Tulane University* $43,039
University of Chicago* $65,176
University of Florida* $11,518
University of Illinois at Chicago $65,176
University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business $14,265
University of New Hampshire $9,703
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $14,910
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor $19,514
University of Notre Dame $52,218
University of Pennsylvania* $63,265
University of Richmond* $57,600
University of Rochester $53,997
University of Southern California (USC) $48,959
University of California
(UCLA)
$24,289
University of Vermont $21,425

College Average Need-Based Scholarship or Grant Awarded
University of Virginia $29,356
University of Washington $17,670
UPenn $63,265
Ursuline College $32,410
Vanderbilt University $66,031
Vassar College $57,763
Wabash College $39,107
Wake Forest University School of Medicine $54,851
Wellesley College $59,000
Wesleyan University* $64,308
Williams College* $65,134
Yale University $68,240
Yeshiva University $39,329

* We've also added an asterisk next to the names of schools that meet full financial need without requiring loans in our list of 114 schools. This should make your decision-making process a bit easier.

Source: Amherst College, Babson College, Barnard College, Baylor University, Berea College, Biola University, Boston College, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Carnegie Mellon University, Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, Colby College, Colgate University, College of the Ozarks, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Cornell College, Dartmouth College, Davidson College, Denison University, DePaul University, Elon University, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), Emory University, Florida State University, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Grinnell College, Hamilton College, Harvey Mudd College, Haverford College, Hiram College, Ithaca College, Julliard, Kenyon College, Lafayette College, Lawrence University, Lehigh University, Lewis & Clark College, Marist College, Middlebury College, Mount St. Mary's College, New York University (NYU), Northeastern University, Olin College, Penn State - University Park, Pomona College, Providence College, Purdue University, Randolph College, Rice University, Saint Louis University, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, Southern Methodist University (SMU), Soka University of America, St. John's College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Swarthmore College, Syracuse University, Texas Christian University (TCU), The College of New Jersey, Thomas Aquinas College, Tulane University, University of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of New Hampshire, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 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, Yeshiva University, Princeton, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, UPenn, Caltech, Duke, Brown, John Hopkins, Northwestern, Columbia, Cornell, UChicago, UCLA

Most top universities in the United States have built-in programs that automatically apply need-blindness to applicants who meet a specific requirement, such as being in the top ten percent of your high school academically. Need-blind schools use the status to attract the top percentage of students for their highly acclaimed university programs.

What Are the Top Need-Blind Universities for International Students?

Here is a list of top need-blind universities for international students:

  • Amherst College
  • Harvard University
  • Bowdoin College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Brown University (*beginning in 2025)
  • Princeton University
  • Dartmouth College

These universities are all about making higher education accessible, regardless of your financial circumstances. So, take a closer look and find the one that suits your academic goals best!

Private Ivy Plus Schools 

Source: UPenn

The top ten need-blind colleges fall into two categories: Ivy League and Private Ivy-Plus level schools. Ivy Plus schools are equivalent to the Ivy League in education but don’t have the Ivy League distinction. 

Need-blindness is a function of most private schools. Private schools, especially Ivy Plus schools, offer unique financial aid programs to accepted U.S. applicants. Private universities tend to have enough resources from being so prestigious that they are willing to fund students' needs, from tuition to board, without asking questions. 

Private schools do not require students to complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If they did, they would have access to their applicant’s financial information. Since they don’t take government loans, these universities usually offer scholarships and financial aid opportunities. 

Ivy League Financial Aid and Need-Blindness

All Ivy League students offer need-blind admissions for their students, with a few elected to extend that offer to international students. All Ivy League schools are private institutions. As such, Ivy League scholarships and financial aid often come from each college’s specific donations funded programs rather than through public government-funded student loans.   

Ivy League schools offer financial aid endowment programs to meet student needs better. This financial aid program completely replaces the need for any scholarship. If you make it into an Ivy League school, the financial aid options available will ensure that students should be able to afford the school, especially if they stand out merit-wise.

What Should You Look For in a Need-Blind College? 

Although need-blind colleges are a wonderful option for students with demonstrated financial need, other factors are important as well! When applying to college, there are a number of things you should consider, including: 

  • Location
  • Size
  • Campus environment
  • Available programs
  • Networking/career opportunities
  • Extracurriculars & clubs
  • Financial aid packages

It’s important to choose a college using a well-rounded approach. Make your decision based on where you think you will thrive, not just based on financial factors!

If you’re an international or transfer student, remember to look into specific financial aid requirements, as many schools only offer need-blind admissions to domestic students.

FAQs

Below, you’ll find some common questions about need-blind colleges. 

1. Are Colleges Really Need-Blind?

Not all American universities are need-blind colleges, but many top-ranked schools are. These colleges do not consider student applications based on their financial needs. Only some colleges can be need-blind because it places more of a financial burden on the school. 

2. Which Ivy League Is Need-Blind?

All Ivy League schools admit U.S. applicants without taking financial need into account. Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale are the only need-blind colleges among the Ivy League universities for international students.

3. Is Harvard Need-Blind?

Indeed, Harvard is need-blind, extending its policy to all students, including international applicants.

4. What’s the Difference Between Need Blind Vs. Full-Need Colleges?

Need-blind colleges consider applicants for admission without regard to their ability to pay, while full-need colleges meet the demonstrated financial need of admitted students through a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study, without requiring loans.

Final Thoughts

Need-blind colleges ensure that their accepted students receive full support regardless of their financial needs. These highly ranked universities take on the financial burden through private donation funding. By doing so, future students from all backgrounds can attend a school with peers who will challenge them and take on a great opportunity. 

Need blindness is a perk of colleges that have great distinction. While it’s not something every college can afford to do, private universities use it to give back to their students and foster a greater community. The donations they receive from their numerous successful alums sow the seeds of the successful students who will define the future. 

Most of these schools have incredibly competitive applications, so if you plan on applying, best of luck!

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