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US colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for international students

interstride logo by Interstride
April 17, 2023

As an international student pursuing higher education in the United States, financing your education can be intimidating. The cost of higher education in the US is among the highest in the world. However, most students don’t end up paying the full price, including international students.

There are a handful of colleges and universities in the US that meet 100% of an accepted student’s demonstrated financial need, regardless of citizenship status. Full-need policies can make a huge impact on your ability to pursue higher education in the US due to the limited financial aid opportunities available to international students. Keep reading to learn more about full-need schools and why they matter to international students.

What is demonstrated financial need?

Demonstrated financial need refers to the amount of financial assistance needed to cover college costs. It is calculated based on your expected family contribution (EFC) and the full cost of attendance (COA). The COA includes tuition, room and board, fees, and other expenses. The EFC is the amount your family is expected to pay towards that full cost of attendance, calculated based on household income, size, and assets.

If you are accepted to a school that meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, the college will cover the difference between your expected family contribution and the cost of attendance. This will be presented in the form of a financial aid package, including but not limited to, grants, scholarships, and sometimes work study opportunities.

Why is this important for international students?

Many international students report that one of the biggest hurdles to studying in the US is financing. In addition to the higher cost of attendance, international students have additional fees to consider like visas and travel expenses. Since financial aid opportunities are frequently tied to a student’s citizenship status, most international students are not eligible to receive federal student aid or take out student loans. However, don’t let that discourage you from pursuing education in the US! There are still ways to finance your education, like attending schools that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need.

Keep in mind that international students may be subject to different policies at various schools. As you research schools in the US, make sure to review their admissions and financial aid policies in detail. These will indicate if a school meets full need for all students, regardless of citizenship status.

What is the difference between need-blind vs. need-aware schools?

Need-blind schools do not consider students’ financial ability when making admission decisions. This policy levels the playing field for international students, as schools will consider your admission based on merit or academic achievement. Only a handful of schools in the US are need-blind for all students regardless of citizenship status. There are even fewer that are need-blind and meet 100% demonstrated need.

Need-aware schools reserve the right to consider a students’ financial ability in making admissions decisions, and set aside a number of admissions spots for students who have the financial ability to pay full tuition. As a result, need-aware schools tend to offer more robust financial aid packages, inclusive of scholarships and grants based on merit.

A school can have either a need-blind or need-aware admissions policy and still commit to meeting 100% demonstrated need.

US colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated need for international students

Included below are a handful of the 75 colleges and universities in the US that meet 100% of demonstrated need for all students. The schools we’ve noted below are full-need for all students regardless of citizenship.

Amherst College
Bowdoin College
California Institute of Technology
Colgate University
Columbia University
Davidson College
Duke University
Harvard University
Middlebury College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Princeton University
Swarthmore College
Trinity College
University of Richmond
Vassar College
Williams College
Yale University

Final thoughts

Higher education in the US can be costly, especially if you just look at the “sticker price” of the school. This is where full-need schools come in. Full-need schools offer a solution to financing education for students, especially international students. These schools commit to meeting your full financial need, covering the difference of what your family can afford and the cost of attendance. Understanding the admissions and financial aid policies of a school can help you find the best option that meets your needs as a student.