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Articles / Applying to College / Did Financial Aid Application Affect Ivy League Decisions?

May 24, 2010

Did Financial Aid Application Affect Ivy League Decisions?

Question: My daughter applied to the Ivies in the "financial aid required" category and did not get in. From information gathered since then, I believe that she probably would have secured admission if she had applied in a " no financial need" category. What are your thoughts?

Unless your daughter is an international student (i.e., NOT a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident), her financial aid application did NOT affect her admission verdict. All eight Ivies are "need blind" for domestic applicants. Some, however, do consider need when evaluating non-citizens.


Keep in mind that these most sought-after institutions often turn away 10 fully qualified students for each one they admit. A Harvard admissions dean once conceded that he and his colleagues could select an entire freshman class from the application folders in the "reject" pile that would be equally strong as the class actually admitted.

Without knowing anything about your daughter and her strengths, I can't weigh in responsibly on why she was not accepted by her top choice colleges. But, unless she's an international student, I can safely say that it wasn't due to her financial need. If she is an international student, money might have been a factor in her decision, depending on exactly where she applied.

Please do assure your daughter that loads of amazing applicants are denied by the Ivy League schools and their hyper-competitive counterparts every year. So, if it's of any consolation to her, she is in excellent company, and these admission decisions say nothing about her success so far nor about the success that may lie ahead.

Best wishes to her, wherever she enrolls.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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