Do admissions officers see FAFSA reports?

By Maxine Seya

“When the admissions staff read the applications, do they see if the student is applying to FAFSA?”

- Kris in Florida

First things first. What is FAFSA? FAFSA is a form that college students and their families fill out each year of college to help determine if they can get financial aid for college. It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Some university admissions departments will see that students have submitted a FAFSA before an admissions decision has been made. Others will not.

The short answer to your question is it depends on if the college is need-blind or need-aware. The only way you can figure that out is by reading the university financial aid website or by directly contacting the office.

A need-blind policy means that the admissions department will not take into account the student’s ability to pay when deciding who to admit.

On the other hand, under a need-aware policy, admissions officers will take into consideration the student’s ability to pay when making decisions.

Most colleges that are need-blind tend to advertise it on their websites. Knowing that a college is accepting applicants based on merit and not money encourages more people to apply. But there is a caveat. While some need-blind schools commit to providing 100% of demonstrated need, many need-blind schools do not promise that.

A good example of that is Boston University. BU admits students on a need-blind basis, meaning they do not see if a student submitted a FAFSA and do not have access to the information within the FAFSA. However, SocratesPost jumped on a live webinar session with BU’s financial aid office to verify that BU does not meet 100% of demonstrated need.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.