Many colleges will consider whether an applicant can afford to pay full tuition when deciding whether to admit him or her.
However, it’s also frequently misunderstood. A recent New York Times article explains that, even at “need aware” colleges, the most qualified applicants—regardless of financial circumstances—are on the same playing field. It is qualified applicants on the borderline of being accepted that will get a boost from their ability to pay the full “sticker price” without aid.
There’s an important takeaway here for those who want aid. Specifically, if you’re applying to “need aware” colleges, most of them should resemble “safety schools” for you—i.e., your credentials (GPA, test scores, etc.) should comfortably exceed the typical admitted student’s. (Click here for more info on choosing safeties.)
As you are looking for aid, I’d also suggest that these schools be ones that offer generous merit aid to students with relatively strong credentials. (Click here to search for schools with large merit awards.)
When choosing colleges, be sure to ask them—politely—whether they are “need aware” (note: “need sensitive” means the same thing). The alternative is “need blind”—such schools admit all students without regard to their financial circumstances. Many of these schools, particularly the highly selective ones, meet the full financial need of all of their admitted students.
Click here to read more on the Times.