need-blind universities
Need-blind universities in the US include Yale University. Source: Yana Paskova/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

If you’re planning to study in the US, you’ve probably come across the term “need-blind admissions”, but what does it mean, and does it affect international students? Need-blind universities don’t consider students’ financial status in the undergraduate admissions process. This helps students from lower to middle-income families enjoy equal opportunities for quality education.

It is different from need-based aid, a type of financial aid that students can receive if they can establish concrete proof that they require financial assistance for their education.

Not all need-blind universities or universities with need-blind admissions will meet an international student’s financial needs if accepted, however.

need-blind university

Students are encouraged to do some research before applying to a need-blind university as the competition can be stiff. Source: Sean Rayford/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Need-blind universities for international students

Bowdoin College announced earlier this month that it had expanded its need-blind admissions policy to include international students.

The university claims that this makes them one of seven institutions in the country “with comprehensive need-blind aid policies for all students, regardless of citizenship”.

“Now Bowdoin joins Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Dartmouth College, and Amherst College in including all students, regardless of citizenship, under its need-blind admissions policy,” said the university in a press release. 

Here’s what some need-blind universities for international students have to say about their policies on their admissions website:

Amherst College

Amherst is “need-blind” in evaluating international students. “In considering you for admission, Amherst will not take into consideration whether or not you have applied for financial aid,” it says on its website.

If you’ve been admitted to Amherst, you will receive financial aid equal to your financial need through a combination of scholarships and a work opportunity. “Your demonstrated need is met in full; there is no ‘gap’ (unmet need) in our aid awards,” says the university.

Princeton University

Princeton is a need-blind university for all applicants, including international students. They add that Princeton financial aid is awarded solely based on need; there are no merit scholarships. 

Need is determined through a careful review of each family’s individual financial circumstances. Attention is also given to special circumstances and professional judgment in determining aid awards.

need-blind universities

Harvard has a need-blind application process for all students. Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP


If you’re Harvard-bound, you will not be disadvantaged in any way if you come from a lower-income family. The Ivy League has a need-blind application process for all students, including international students. 

“Your financial need and your aid application will never affect your chance of being admitted to Harvard,” it says on its website. They also award base aid on need, not on merit.


Similar to Harvard, Yale practices a need-blind admissions policy for all applicants. 

Undergraduate students are admitted without regard to their ability to pay, and the university provides need-based financial aid awards to all admitted students on the basis of individual needs assessments. 


MIT practices need-blind admissions, which means applicants will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process because of their financial need. 

Dartmouth College

Earlier this year, Dartmouth announced that it was expanding its need-blind admissions policy to include international undergraduate applicants.

need-blind universities

The campus of Georgetown University is shown March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. Source: Win McNamee/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Georgetown University

Its website notes that Georgetown is need-blind for all applicants. 

However, admitted students who have requested financial aid and are not US citizens or permanent residents will be considered for a very limited number of need-based scholarships, it said.

Brown to become need-blind university for international students by 2025

Separately, Brown University announced that they aim to become a need-blind university for international students starting their undergraduate degrees in Fall 2025.

Need-blind admissions to Brown have been open to domestic students since 2003, but it only has a need-aware policy in place for its foreign applicants.

Conversely, Stanford University notes the following on its website: “Our admission programme is need-blind, meaning, for all but some international applicants, financial status will not affect the admission decision.”

Columbia University notes that admission to the university is need-blind for US citizens and eligible non-citizens.