Need-blind admission is a term used in the United States denoting a college admission policy in which an institution does not consider an applicant's financial situation when deciding admission. This policy generally increases the proportion of admitted students needing financial aid and often requires the institution to back the policy with an ample endowment or other sources of funding. Being need-blind is a statutory requirement for institutions to participate in an antitrust exemption granted by Congress which remains in effect until September 30, 2022. An institution may be need-blind in any given year by policy (de jure) or by circumstances (de facto).
Most colleges and universities cannot afford to offer adequate financial aid to all admitted students; some are not need-blind while others admit students on a need-blind basis but do not offer them sufficient aid to meet their full demonstrated financial need. In addition, many schools that admit domestic first-year students without regard to need do not extend this policy to international or transfer students. Schools that are need-blind and meet full need for all applicants are usually very selective as they tend to receive more applications than other schools.
Institutions set their own definition of meeting the full demonstrated need. There is no universal standard that an institution must abide by to claim that it meets full demonstrated need. Additionally, some institutions meet full demonstrated need entirely through grants, merit scholarships, and/or talent scholarships, whereas others include loans that need to be repaid and/or work-study directly at the college campus in addition to the other forms of financial aid. For these reasons, an admitted student's financial aid package can vary significantly at different schools that all claim to meet full demonstrated need.