Need-Aware Colleges: A Full List by Prep Expert

As they keep up with rising inflation costs, many colleges and universities have had to start considering financial aid when making admissions decisions.

Unlike need-blind colleges, which do not factor in a student’s ability to pay tuition when making admissions decisions, need aware colleges take this factor into consideration.

Students who are going to have to rely on financial aid packages to attend a school will cost the college more money than a student who has the means to finance their own education.

With this in mind, many students who need financial aid may feel discouraged from applying to need-aware colleges. What’s the point of applying to a school that will reject you for needing financial aid, right?


While need-aware colleges do weigh financial aid, this is only one of many factors they consider when ranking applicants, and it has no bearing on how much financial aid you actually receive.

In fact, you could end up earning more scholarship money from a need-aware school than you would from a need-blind school.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about need-aware colleges and give you a full list of need-aware colleges in the United States.

Should you apply to a need-aware college

If your grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities make you a standout at a college or university you want to attend, you should apply regardless of whether or not it is need-aware.

For one, no college or university weighs financial need over strong academics and strong potential for community involvement. A student who is not prepared to handle the rigor of college, won’t contribute to the campus community, and not of good character will cost the institution far more money in the long run than a student who needs some financial aid.

Colleges still want to see students with high gpas, great SAT or ACT scores, strong letters of recommendation, and impressive extracurricular activities. If you check these boxes, you have a great chance of getting into top schools, regardless of your financial need.

Also, many need-aware colleges offer good financial aid packages, and many meet full demonstrated need for accepted applicants. 

Just because a school is need-aware does not mean that it won’t offer you any financial aid. If you have a strong academic record and test scores that highlight your academic potential, you can receive scholarship money to cover part or all of your tuition costs.

Need-aware colleges and universities

Here is a list of colleges that are need-aware and will meet full demonstrated need for accepted applicants (with certain exceptions regarding grades, test scores, citizenship, or residency):

  • Alma College
  • American University 
  • Aquinas College
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Boston University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • Carleton College
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Colby College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Colorado College
  • Connecticut College
  • DePauw University
  • Dickinson College
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • George Washington University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Haverford College
  • Hendrix College
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Kenyon College
  • Lafayette College
  • Macalester College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • National University of Natural Medicine
  • Northeastern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Occidental College
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Pitzer College
  • Reed College
  • Saint Joseph’s University
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Scripps College
  • Skidmore College[78]
  • Smith College
  • St. Olaf College[79]
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • Stonehill College
  • Trinity College
  • Trinity University
  • Tufts University
  • Union College
  • University of Miami
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Puget Sound 
  • University of Rochester
  • Washington & Jefferson College
  • Washington & Lee University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Here is a list of colleges that are need-aware and do not meet full demonstrated need, but may offer some financial aid for accepted applicants (with certain exceptions regarding grades, test scores, citizenship, or residency):

  • Abilene Christian University
  • Agnes Scott College
  • Allegheny College
  • Auburn University
  • Beloit College
  • Bennington College
  • Bentley University
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Berry College
  • Bradley University
  • The Catholic University of America
  • Centre College
  • Clark University
  • Clemson University
  • College of Wooster
  • Creighton University
  • DePaul University
  • Drexel University
  • Earlham College
  • Emerson College
  • Fairfield University
  • Furman University
  • Hampton University
  • Hofstra University
  • Howard University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Knox College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Loma Linda University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Marquette University
  • The New School
  • Pepperdine University
  • Providence College
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Rhodes College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rollins College
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Seton Hall University
  • Southwestern University
  • Spelman College
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Denver
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of St. Thomas
  • University of Tulsa
  • Villanova University
  • Wabash College
  • Wheaton College
  • Whitman College
  • Willamette University
  • Wofford College

Financial preparation for college

It’s no secret that college is expensive. The earlier you can start to prepare for the financial realities of college, the better.

If you are applying to a need-aware school, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Look up average tuition costs

To the best of your ability, look up the estimated average tuition costs as early as possible for the schools on your list. This will give you an idea of how much financial aid you will need, how many scholarships you’ll need to apply for during your junior and senior years, and how much money you will need to save for college.

Apply early

Some need-aware colleges and universities will only meet the full demonstrated need of early applicants. 

Typically, the early admission deadline is November 1, so make sure your applications are submitted before the end of October so you aren’t rushing to submit your college applications at the last minute.

Earn a high gpa

One of the best ways for you to earn a competitive financial aid package or even outside scholarships from other organizations is to earn a high gpa.

Strive to earn all A’s in your classes, but make sure you are taking challenging courses as well. Colleges don’t want to accept students who only take the simplest classes, even if they get great grades in each of them.

Take dual credit courses, AP classes, and IB courses if possible, and earn good grades while challenging yourself. Consider hiring a tutor through Prep Expert to help!

Prepare for the SAT or ACT

If you score in the top percentile on the SAT or ACT, you will significantly boost your chances of getting admitted into your top schools and receiving scholarship money from these schools.

It will be helpful for you to enroll in an ACT or SAT prep course. These courses walk students through all of the concepts covered on the test as well as key strategies to help them get an impressive score.

Sign up for an ACT or SAT prep course through Prep Expert today.