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Most Successful Americans didn’t necessary attend Ivy League schools. You don’t have to pay $40,000 dollars/year – You can manage to get into institutions having similar standards at a lower cost. Money is one of the most important factors that is taken into consideration, while planning for higher education. Price does not always determine the quality of education.
A $40,000 institution doesn’t make a difference as the most important factor that determines the quality of education is – how serious the student learns from his/her experiences.

Types of Colleges -Need-Aware Vs Need-Blind

when it comes to financial aid, based on need- the colleges are categorized as-

  • Need blind colleges
  • Need aware colleges

On what basis are the colleges divided?

Let us understand-


Top Ivy League Colleges offer enough scope for students, who qualify and meet specific criteria determined by these colleges.
These college term themselves as need-blind, which means that- irrespective of the financial condition of a deserving student, they promise to meet the student’s financial requirements related to education, or the complete demonstrated need.

Now, you might ask- Do the colleges bear the entire cost? Or Is the cost of education completely free?

The answer is no. The colleges won’t bear the complete cost of education. Rather, they will only pay for the gap between the student’s Cost of attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Now, that sounds good, isn’t it?

After reading this, there is an obvious question that may spring your mind- How do I get these need-blind colleges sponsor my education?

The need-blind colleges have large endowments, and they have strong recognition worldwide. Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult to get admission into these colleges.
Even great scholars find it hard to get admission into these colleges. It is evident that the students need to have an exceptional academic profile, high GPA scores, should be well versed with multiple languages, exhibit great cultural diversity along with exceptional abilities in the field of sports.

Now, that’s tough. Isn’t it?

In short, you need to be an all-rounder, and be good at almost anything you do.
You need to know three important things about these schools:

  • They have very large endowments, with an incredibly strong brand presence in the market.
  • Most colleges agree to offer financial help, but this is done on the matrix basis. The students are awarded on the basis of their merits and talent.
  • Some colleges openly admit that they prioritize the financial help based on certain parameters, and the top 10 percent of the students filling their class are given 1st priority. Therefore, it can be concluded that a student in the top 10% of the class, will get more financial help, than the students who fall in the top 10-30 percent of the class.

This may not sound fair, and it often leads to ugly arguments, but that’s the way it goes.


Need-aware colleges are the complete opposite of the Need-blind colleges. The Need-blind colleges believe in granting admission to only financially sound students, or the ones who can afford to pay for their education. These colleges do not care about the financial condition of a student. Irrespective of the strong academic background of a student, he/she should be able to bear the entire cost of education. In case, the student does not manage to arrange the fees required by the college, then these colleges won’t hesitate to mail a rejection letter.
Now some of you may term them as ‘Capitalists’. But that’s the way they are.
Contrary to the need-blind colleges, the need-aware colleges may not sound appealing for students who don’t hail from a wealthy background.

Some students with great scores and all-round achievements, find the policies of need-aware colleges very hard to digest.

Less deserving students with low academic or all-round skills, gain acceptance into these colleges, only because of their wealthy background that enables them to afford the ever rising education fees of these need-aware colleges.

However, exceptions always exist. For example- Reed College in Portland, Oregon, has a policy called “Come Anyway.”

Through this initiative the institution encourages deserving students to come and enroll into their desired program. The college honestly admits that they won’t be able to provide aid for the first year, but if you get admission, they promise to take care of the next 3 years.

We are in no way trying to say that these Need aware colleges are not good colleges. Neither we have anything against the students from wealthy backgrounds. All that we are trying to do is to ‘call a spade a spade’.

It’s A Joint Decision

Most families make the mistake of allowing their children to choose the colleges. Thus, end up paying a high cost for the education. You should understand that, it is a joint decision, and you must do ample research before deciding the right college for your student.

How do I know the exact amount required to pay for the education cost?

Undoubtedly, this is a million-dollar question, as it is asked by almost all the applicants and their parents. However, the answer to this question is not simple – it varies depending on numerous factors.

When you think about the education fee, you are only aware of the sticker price of the business school, but the reduction or the discount, the school will offer to a student, will vary from one student to another depending on his/her performance, estimated family contribution, savings plans etc.


  • A detailed investigation will be done by the Justice Department.
  • Prior to the investigations, the Financial Admission Officer would compare the admission offer received by a student from different schools.
  • The aid packages may differ by thousands of dollars

NOTE- Never trust a councillor who says that he can predict the amount to be paid for the college.

Applying for more business schools, is always a good idea

We recommend you to apply for more than one school as it improves your chances of getting a better deal.

Suppose, student A has applied for only one school and he gets selected – If, he does not get a better aid package from the admission officers, then he will have only 2 options i.e. either join the school at a higher cost, or opt out and try next year.

Whereas, student B applies for 4 schools, and gets selected by 2. Business school Y doesn’t offer him a better aid, but Business School Z offers him great discounts. He goes and negotiates with business school Y, and lets the financial officer know about the better discounts offered by business school Z. So, the Financial Admission Officer changes the offer.

Therefore, applying for multiple business schools helped student B to negotiate and get a better deal.

Applying for multiple schools, and getting selected by more than one school, will make your target school understand the competition with their rivals. So, they will not take you for granted, and you can save a lot of money.


Applying for multiple schools gives you an added advantage. However, as per the statics 77 % students are accepted by the schools, which they choose at first. Most students choose their schools instantly, without putting much of a thought, but later on they realize and change their mind. Now this adds to the dilemma.

From the financial point of view – We recommend you to choose your first-choice school. After you have done ample research, you must compare the merits of different schools, and relate them with their price tags.

If, you are tight on the budget and want the best options at an affordable price, then a business school that offers financial safety must be considered as the first choice.

The factors that determine the financial safety of a school are as follows-

When a student is almost certain of getting admitted-

In this case, you need to understand that, by improving the chances of admission – one improves the chances of getting financial aid. Admission safety for students vary from one college to another, and depends on the performance of the student. You must look at the median score of the test examples like GMAT, GRE, SAT etc.

What is financial safety for a student?

If, a student is in the list of the top 25 % of the students that got admissions last year, then the college can be considered as financially safe.
You can still afford a college if you are not at all provided with financial aid

You can still afford a college if you are not at all provided with financial aid

You will come across some extremely fine and affordable public colleges, who have similar standards to that of the private colleges, and you won’t have to take the help of your consultant or seek for financial aid to afford the admission into these colleges.

What does a student’s willingness to attend a school determine?

Some students openly admit that they are not at all worried about the financial safety of the school. This justifies two things, either they have not their research, or they don’t have much idea about the college, and have taken their decision instantly.

Determining Financial Safety with Reference to Expected Family Contribution


  • Federal methodology is better for a parent’s pocket in comparison to the institutional methodology.
  • The institutional methodology still awards federal money like, Pell Grant and subsidized Stafford loan.
  • The schools use different methodologies to determine the financial aid for a student. However, the families who don’t have a lot of home equity in their primary residence or for those who don’t show up capital losses or loss in property rentals – might not notice a significant difference.
  • Most top ranked colleges prefer the institutional methodology. Hence, your options are limited.The best way to avoid the confusion about the methodology used by a particular college is to ask the Financial Admission Officer.
  • Should you only consider the Federal Methodology, while applying to the schools?
  • No, you cannot ignore other factors that play a substantial role in determining the financial aid like – demographics; the talent of the student; academic performance etc. These exceptional factors can compel the Financial Admission Officer to give you merit- based aid.
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