This page provides answers to common questions we receive from international applicants. We’ve attempted to consolidate all of the information (or quick links) that you will need, including the additional facts below about: General Questions; Application Process; Score Report Submission; Financial Aid; Interviews; and Communicating With the Office of Admission.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions that are not addressed on our site!
Application Instructions are posted here.
Can an international student apply Early Decision (ED)?
Yes, we welcome Early Decision (ED) applications from international students.*Additional commentary on the ED option. Historically, the admission rate for ED candidates is higher than the admission rate for Regular Decision candidates. When applying ED it is required that you read, understand, and submit the signed ED Agreement and the CSS Profile by the ED deadline. Admitted ED students are considered for any merit or need-based awards for which they are eligible, and financial aid is awarded in the same way as Regular Decision candidates. ED applicants receive applicable financial aid awards with the admission letter on the specified ED notification date, typically 3-4 weeks following the ED deadline.
*If you have high financial need and are most interested in being considered for one of our highly competitive comprehensive International Special Scholarships, you should apply as a Regular Decision candidate. These scholarships are awarded by special review committees which do not make their final recommendations until early spring.
*If you begin an ED application but are unable to complete it by the deadline, you may request that your application be moved to the Regular Decision pool. Students denied in the ED process may not re-apply or re-activate their applications for Regular Decision consideration in the same year.
I have only taken the O-Level exams. Do you require the A-Level's?
Yes, applicants submitting O-level exams results only will not be considered for admission. For A-level candidates we require Advanced Subsidiary (or equivalent) results and A-level predictions, usually indicated in the Secondary School Report and/or the counselor or headmaster recommendation letter. This requirement also applies to students who have studied in countries with similar education paths. Examples include, but are not limited to: Ghana: GCE or BECE must be followed by the SSSCE; India: ISSCE must be followed by the ISSE, or ICSE must be followed by the ISC.
I have taken IB, AP, or A-Level courses. Can I get Grinnell College credit for them?
Yes, Grinnell recognizes the rigor of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and A-level programs and will award general academic credit (applied toward the graduation requirement) for strong performance on these examinations. See the specific policies through the College Catalog and Office of the Registrar.
Can I get an application fee waiver?
Grinnell College does not charge an application fee. You can submit an application for free at www.commonapp.org.
I don't have good internet connectivity. Is there another way to apply that is not online?
Can I submit my Common Application online and send the school forms by mail?
Yes. While we prefer to receive the school forms (i.e. transcripts, teacher recommendation letters, guidance counselor secondary school report form) online, it is acceptable to submit them by fax, email or postal mail. You can ask your high school guidance counselor (or other most appropriate school administrator or EducationUSA officer) to send us a photocopy of your school forms, transcripts, and test scores by postal mail. This photocopy should contain an original school stamp and signature on it verifying that the copy is true to the original score report. For quicker service the counselor can send them to us by fax (1-641-269-4800) or as an attachment to an email sent to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu. The cover letter of the fax or email should clearly indicate that it is being sent by the high school (not the applicant) in order for us to accept the documents as "official."
Do I have to submit everything all at the same time?
You may submit your documents all at once, or you may submit them individually (or in small batches) as they become available. Each document must contain your full name and your date of birth so that it can be correctly assigned to your application file.
What is the mailing address for mailing my documents to Grinnell College?
Office of Admission, John Chrystal Center
1103 Park Street, Grinnell College
Grinnell, IA 50112, USA
Do you need my transcripts in the original language or in English?
If your original school transcript is not in English, you must submit a copy in the original language and a copy that has been translated into English. If you send them by postal mail, the original document must have a school stamp and signature, and the English translation must have formal attestation that the results are true and accurate. We prefer that transcripts be submitted through the Common Application website. We will accept documents submitted via fax or email attachment, but only if they clearly indicate that they are being sent to us by a school administrator or EducationUSA officer. If there is any cause for concern regarding authenticity of documents, we reserve the right to contact school officials for confirmation and/or request original, stamped and signed documentation in order to complete the application file.
My mid-year grades cannot be sent until late January or February. What should I do?
We recognize that school reporting calendars differ throughout the world. If you will not receive your mid-year transcript by our January 15th deadline, please be sure to submit all of the other required application documents by the deadline, then submit your mid-year transcript as soon as it becomes available. Please let us know, before the deadline, when to expect this credential.
Can I send supplemental application materials?
While they are not required, we will gladly accept additional writing samples, essays, letters of recommendation, and other appropriate documents if you feel that they will enhance your application. You may upload these materials through your admission portal, which we provide to you once your Common Application has been received. For art and music portfolios we strongly prefer to receive them electronically through an online product called "SlideShow." Directions on how to connect to SlideShow will be provided to you once you have submitted your Common Application.
When and how will I be notified of my admission/financial aid decision?
Your admission decision letter and financial aid award (if applicable) will be available on your admission portal. We post decisions no later than April 1 for Regular Decision applicants. Admitted students are sent the admission and financial aid award letters via FedEx Express Courier. We will email you with the tracking number for your convenience. If you are placed on Grinnell's Wait List, or if you are denied admission, we will mail your notification letter via regular international mail service, which takes 2-4 weeks. In addition, these decision letters are posted on your admission portal.
What is the "admission portal"?
When your application for admission is received and processed, we create a unique username and password for you. You will receive notification by e-mail of your username and password. The admission portal is an online service that allows you to monitor the status of your application and confirm Grinnell's receipt of the required application documents. Through this portal, you can see a list of the documents that have received and a list of the required documents that are still outstanding. You can also view your admission decision, once this information has been released.
If I am given an offer of admission, can I pay my admission deposit by credit card?
Yes. Contact us at intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu for the details.
Score Report Submission
Do all international applicants HAVE to submit the TOEFL?
We require the TOEFL for all international applicants, but you can request a waiver of this requirement in limited circumstances. Request a waiver by sending a written request and supporting documentation to confirm one or more of the following:
- a score of 600 or more on your SAT I Critical Reading section (which converts to 27 or higher for the reading section on the ACT exam);
- you have studied at least three years of high school in an English medium school within the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand;
- you will graduate from one of the United World Colleges
Once we receive proof of one or more of these conditions through receipt of your official SAT (or ACT) score report or official transcript , we will consider a waiver of the TOEFL requirement. Any approved waiver will be reflected on your admission portal. Note: We do not accept the SAT II results in lieu of the TOEFL
May I submit my TOEFL score even if I meet one of the TOEFL waiver conditions?
Yes. We encourage you to submit your score report, even if the requirement has been waived for you. Presenting a strong TOEFL score can only help your case for admission. Grinnell's institution code for requesting TOEFL score reports is 6252.
Do you accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam?
Yes, we will accept the IELTS in lieu of the TOEFL. We require a minimum score of 6.5.
What are the minimum required scores for the TOEFL, SAT I, or ACT?
We do not set minimum test score requirements, but we only admit applicants who can demonstrate a very strong command of the English language because of the significant reading and writing skills required for success at Grinnell. For the class entering in August 2014: the mid-50% TOEFL(iBT) score was 102-111; the SAT I Critical Reading mid-50% range was 610-698; and the SAT I Math mid-50% range was 693-788. Note: We do not currently consider the SAT I Writing score in our academic evaluation. The middle 50% range for admitted students presenting ACT scores was 29-31.
SAT and TOEFL offer exam dates in December, so results might not be available until after Grinnell’s January 15 Regular Decision application deadline. Will you still accept these exam results?
Yes, we will accept them through January. We highly encourage you to request a “rush” report of the results. All other application documents MUST be submitted by the January 15 deadline. We strongly encourage students to sit for these exams on or before their December administrations to ensure full consideration at Grinnell.
Do you accept the SAT II?
These results are not required by Grinnell College. Submitted SAT II results can provide the admissions committee with additional information about your academic strengths, but the test scores are not included in the official evaluation used for admissions decisions.
I can’t afford to send official TOEFL or SAT score reports directly from ETS or the College Board. Is there another option?
You can ask your high school guidance counselor (or other most appropriate school administrator or EducationUSA officer) to send us a photocopy of your standardized test scores by postal mail. This photocopy should contain a school stamp and signature on it verifying that the copy is true to the original score report. Or for quicker service the counselor can send them to us by fax (1-641-269-4800) or as an attachment to an email sent to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu. The cover letter of the fax or email should clearly indicate that it is being sent by the high school, and not you the student, in order for us to accept the scores as "official." If there is any cause for concern regarding authenticity of documents, we reserve the right to contact school officials for confirmation and/or request original, stamped and signed documentation.
International aid policies and projected comprehensive fees are posted here.
How do I apply for financial aid?
What do I need to do if I do not intend to apply for financial aid?
All international applicants are required to submit the College Board’s Certification of Finances form, regardless of your intention to apply for financial aid, in order to complete your application file. Students who do not intend to apply for financial assistance from Grinnell College do not need to submit any additional financial documentation during the application process.
I cannot afford to pay the full comprehensive fee at Grinnell College. Will my financial need hurt my chances of being admitted?
Like the majority of highly-selective, private liberal arts colleges in the U.S., Grinnell employs a need-sensitive admission policy for international students. This means that your financial aid application is considered along with all of the other components of your application during the admission evaluation. Grinnell has a substantial, but limited, financial aid budget for each international class. The need-sensitive model allows us to best distribute these resources in order to enroll a high-achieving, multi-talented, and geographically diverse class.
I have high financial need. What percentage of my demonstrated need is likely to be met by Grinnell?
Grinnell is committed to meeting 100% of an admitted international student’s financial need. Your financial need is determined by the College, based on our review of the financial information provided on the required CSS Profile and Certification of Finances forms. Need-based aid packages typically include grants, campus employment, and institutional loans.
Are my SAT results high enough to be considered for full financial aid?
Grinnell’s financial aid awards are based primarily on demonstrated need, not on exam results. There is no specific SAT score or other qualification that would guarantee a particular grant or scholarship amount.
Can I arrange a personal interview with a Grinnell admissions representative or alumnus in my home city? Will students who have a personal interview have an advantage in the admission process?
Grinnell College does not require personal interviews, nor do we give special preference to students who participate in on or off-campus interviews.
The International Admission Coordinator and/or his admission colleagues may offer off-campus interviews to applicants in cities included in their international admission travel schedule. You can view our travel plans online and then select a country or region from the drop-down menu. The admission office will also send interview invitations to students in its database who reside in these designated travel areas several weeks prior to the interview day. Simply follow the instructions in the email to make detailed arrangements with the admission counselor.
To make arrangements for a Skype interview, please send your request by email to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu, after you have submitted the Common Application and the CSS Profile, if applicable. Please keep in mind that all interviews must be completed at least two weeks prior to the application deadline.
Admission counselors submit written summaries of all interviews conducted. These summaries may be considered in the evaluation process, but do not weigh heavily on the final decision.
Communicating with the Office of Admission
How can I receive information and mailings from Grinnell?
The best way to notify us of your interest in receiving information about Grinnell is to submit our online Inquiry Form. If online submission is not an option, you are welcome to email your request to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Please include your full name, mailing address, academic and extra-curricular interests, and desired application term within your message.
I have questions that are not addressed on this web site. Where can I direct these questions?
We have created the intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu address as a portal for all international admissions-related inquiries. Messages sent to this account are forwarded to the appropriate staff member, and we strive for a 24-hour response time. In most cases, our student interns are able to field most questions. On occasion, questions will be referred on to the International Application Coordinator or the Associate Dean/Coordinator of International Admission.
May I contact a current Grinnell student with my questions?
Certainly! We encourage you to submit your questions, about life and learning at Grinnell, to our intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Our student intern (a current international student) is the primary respondent for this account, but he/she will also be happy to connect you with another student (perhaps someone from your home region) if you request this.