Do Need-Blind Colleges Offer Better Aid to Top Prospects?

Question: Is it true that highly selective need-blind schools can "tweak" their financial aid packages if they want an applicant who is desirable for the usual merit things (athletic abilitity, URM status, musical talent, etc.)?

Different colleges have varying policies, and we can't speak for all of them, but this "tweaking," as you aptly name it, is not uncommon. Among themselves, admission and finaid folks often use the term "sweetening the pot." What this means is that they skew the balance of grant and loan in a financial aid package so that the more sought-after students get a bigger chunk of the former and less of the latter.

However, when the time comes, if your child receives an aid package that seems "untweaked," don't assume that he or she is not a highly desirable applicant. While this could be the case, it may also have more to do with the institution's aid practices. Regardless of the award, it rarely hurts to appeal it, if you feel you can--or must--do better. Just make sure that in doing so you act appreciative for what you've received already and not merely entitled to more.