One campus, a world of possibilities

With further investments in financial aid, BrownTogether aims to make need-blind admission for international students a reality.

Brown has long been a destination for some of the most talented students from around the world. Valerie Aguilar Dellisanti ’23 is one of them.

A native of Peru, Dellisanti speaks eight languages and received a scholarship from the German government to attend a German high school in Lima. When it came time to apply to colleges, her research focused on schools where she could study a diverse range of subjects. Brown rose to the top.

“Brown was my first choice ever since I found out how unique its learning environment was,” she says. “I found out about the Open Curriculum and I thought, ‘That sounds like me!’”

Her immediate next thought was about financial aid. She had gone without electricity and running water at times when she was young, and she knew the chances of receiving the amount of scholarship she needed to study in the U.S. were very small.

Thanks to consistent improvements in Brown’s financial aid program over the past 20 years, Dellisanti received a comprehensive aid package that enabled her to choose Brown.

Now, Brown is poised to expand this support to more exceptional international students.

“My goal is to be able to give my family a better quality of life. A Brown education will continue to open doors for me.”

Valerie Aguilar Dellisanti ’23
Valerie Aguilar Dellisanti ’23 standing beneath the Faunce Arch

Expanding access to a Brown education

In October 2021, President Christina H. Paxson announced Brown’s intent to become one of the few U.S. institutions admitting international students without taking their ability to pay tuition into account (“need-blind” admission), beginning with those applying to the Class of 2029. This initiative comes at a time when the University has extended the BrownTogether campaign in order to build on its past six years of success.

That success hasn’t gone unnoticed. Applications to Brown have skyrocketed in recent years, jumping to more than 50,000 for the Class of 2026. Matriculation has also grown, due in large part to more supportive financial aid programs. Brown is continuing to establish its place as one of the most elite universities in the world, and expanding financial aid for international students is the next important step.

“I am routinely inspired by the drive, intellectual curiosity, and accomplishments of our international students. The world desperately needs the contributions they can make,” says President Paxson. “While we have seen the University’s overall financial aid budget grow significantly in the past decade, financial aid support for international students has not kept that same pace. We want to be able to admit exceptional international students to Brown, regardless of their financial resources.”

$ 54,327

average aid award

for domestic students

$ 67,144

average aid award

for international students

44 %

domestic students

who receive financial aid

15 %

international students

who receive financial aid

Financial Aid at Brown: domestic vs. international students

Fiscal Year 2021


Only 5.3% of Brown’s $170 million financial aid budget is earmarked for international students. International students often need a larger aid package to come to Brown, averaging nearly $13,000 more per student than their domestic counterparts. As a result, only 15% of international students at Brown received financial aid in 2021 compared with 44% of domestic students. This has produced a significant gap in the socioeconomic distribution among matriculating international students.

Becoming need-blind for international students will allow more students from diverse backgrounds from around the globe to consider Brown as both a welcoming and affordable place to continue their education. 

“I have been working with international applicants and students for over three decades,” says Panetha Ott, director of admission for international recruitment. “We are excited that Brown is moving in this direction. It is in keeping with our values of diversity and inclusion, and it will advance our goal of making a Brown education accessible to all.”

In order to achieve this, Brown must aggressively grow its international financial aid budget through both a greater expected payout from the University endowment and a concerted fundraising effort with the goal of raising a $120 million endowment.

Five students during international orientation, arms around each others' shoulders, walking away from the camera

World-class institution, world-class community

With these changes, international students will be free to choose Brown as the best fit for their academic interests and aspirations, participate in co-curricular opportunities — including varsity athletics — with less economic stress, and prepare for careers in which they can make a difference in the world.

“Need-blind admissions for international students will have wide-ranging positive impacts for the University and the world,” says Provost Rick Locke. “It will create new opportunities for students to learn from international peers who have distinct experiences and perspectives, while also providing a Brown education for talented young people who will go on to serve their communities locally, nationally, and globally.”

Thousands of international students have walked the College Green and gone on to lead lives of usefulness and reputation around the world. Those who come to Brown with the help of financial aid are able to take full advantage of the opportunities for growth and advancement that the University provides:

  • Junaid Ahmad ’83, a Bangladeshi national, studied economics at Brown and was recently appointed the vice president of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
  • Peter Chin-Hong ’92 MD’97, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, researches and treats infectious diseases in immunocompromised people in addition to teaching at the University of California-San Francisco.
  • Current student Sherab Dorji ’22.5 took a leave of absence to develop a farmer-centric dairy value chain to bolster dairy farmers' incomes in rural Bhutan, where he grew up.

“I truly believe that the most important gift one can ever give or receive is that of an education,” says Xelef Botan ’11, a native of Turkey. “Education, in a world of inequalities, is still the best — and perhaps the only — option we have to make sure that deserving people, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, get a fair chance to make it in the world.”

Becoming need-blind for international students will be transformational for those with the talent and potential to make a difference in the world.

Rashid Zia ’01 Dean of the College
Dean of the College Rashid Zia '01 sitting at a desk in front of a bookcase

Brown’s Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01 notes that financial aid contributed greatly to his own journey as an immigrant from Iran to an award-winning engineering professor with a Ph.D. from Stanford.

“I know that I was fortunate to have become a U.S. citizen by the time I applied to Brown in 1996. I was only able to come to Brown because of the generosity of our financial aid packages for domestic students,” Zia says. “Becoming need-blind for international students will be transformational for those with the talent and potential to make a difference in the world. We look forward to that moment soon when all of our international students at Brown are eligible for the same level of support as our domestic students.”

For Dellisanti, both the financial and social support of the Brown community has been life-changing. She was able to stay on campus when Peru closed its borders during the COVID-19 pandemic and has completed a string of internships, including one at a start-up company addressing economic insecurity in underserved communities.

“Being able to study at a university like Brown was absolutely out of my thoughts until I learned about my scholarship opportunity,” she says. “My goal is to be able to give my family a better quality of life. A Brown education will continue to open doors for me.”

For more information about supporting international financial aid through an endowment, please contact:

Josh Taub '93
Assistant Vice President for International Advancement
+1 (401) 863-2196
Robin Gibbs
Senior Regional Director, International Advancement
+1 (401) 863-3444