Thoughts on Need-Blind Versus Need-Aware Policies

Sabrina Sarro
Staff Writer

At the end of my senior year of high school, my goal for college was simple. I wanted to go to a college offering the best academically, environmentally, and socially for the best possible price. Because I come from a lower-middle class family, the question of whether or not the school I would be attending was “Need-Blind” versus “Need-Aware” would be a big one.

Need-blind is a practice that simply means the applicant’s financial background is not a factor in his or her admission into the school.

Need-Aware, the exact antithesis, is a practice that means the financial background of the applicant is taken into consideration.

For example, if there is only one spot left in a freshman class and two applicants have the same qualifications, the one coming from the more financially wealthy background has more of the edge getting in.

As a freshman, I am very fortunate and thankful for the Need-Blind practice. Among several other fantastic factors that contributed to my decision to attend Goucher, the Need-Blind policy was one that definitely stood out.

Being that Goucher utilized this policy, I could be  assure that my financial background would not affect my admissions decision.

I was raised on the belief that I wanted to attend a college that wanted me because of my talents, hard work, personality, and academic potential, not because of my financial standing.

Although need-blind doesn’t assure 100 percent of the financial need being met, it does guarantee that the college is really focusing on the applicant as a person, not as someone who can help offset the cost for someone else.

I’m a huge supporter of this policy because I think applicants who are not as financially wealthy as others do “receive the short end of the stick” when applying to schools that are needs-aware. I feel that because college is already so much of a business, applicants should really investigate whether or not they want to be seen as a positive contribution to a college campus, or just as someone who can offer a lot financially.

I don’t discourage applying to need-aware schools, I just feel that if someone who is not prepared to pay a significant amount of money and is academically weaker than other students should re-think applying to a need-aware college, as this could deter him or her from getting into the school.

I feel that the need-blind practice levels the playing field for all applicants because no attention is put on how much the family can contribute until after the admissions decision is made.

Although the college process is not an easy process and there are many factors to take into consideration when picking a school, I do believe that the needs-blind policy is ultimately the better practice.

Even if the school is not affordable, the applicant’s admission is not jeopardized by factors that they don’t have full control over, like money. The needs-blind practice makes it easier for applicants who come from less fortunate financial backgrounds to feel more confident in the process, provided they have a good academic history.

Although this is just my opinion on the practice, I advise all current students and incoming college students to take into consideration this potentially process-altering variable.

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