International Students FAQs

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 QuestionsApplication ProcessScore Report SubmissionFinancial AidInterviews; and Communicating With the Office of Admission

Feel free to contact us if you have questions that are not addressed on our site!

General Questions

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.

I am from West Africa. Can I send you a photocopy of my WAEC and NECO results? 

No, we require that you purchase a scratch card and send us the scratch card information by email to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]eduso that we can verify your WAEC or NECO results online.

Application Process

Can I get an application fee waiver?

Grinnell College does not charge an application fee. You can submit an application for free at

I don't have good internet connectivity. Is there another way to apply that is not online?

No. You must apply online at Your local EducationUSA office may be able to assist you with this.

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, and not you the student, 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 ready. Each document must contain your full name and your date of birth. As information is submitted and received we will match them up with 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 there are many school systems which run on a different timeline from ours. Submit everything else for your application file by the January 15 deadline and then submit your mid-year transcript as soon as it becomes available, preferably no later than the end of February. Please be in direct communication with us in this case.

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 application 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 and financial aid award, if applicable, will be available on your application portal. We post decisions no later than April 1. Admitted students are sent the Admission letter and Financial Aid Award letter 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, this information is posted on your online applicant status page.

What is the "online applicant status page?"

When your application for admission is received and processed, we create a unique username and a password for you. You will receive notification by e-mail of your username and password. The applicant status page is an online service so you can monitor the status of your application, and confirm Grinnell's receipt of the required application documents. Through this online service, you can see a list of the documents that have been processed for you, 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); 
  • that 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; 
  • that you hold a minimum of sophomore standing in a US College or University and have earned satisfactory grades in humanities and social sciences courses; 
  • or that you have attended one of the United World College schools

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 online applicant status page. 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 demands required for success at Grinnell.  For the class entering in August 2013: the mid-50% TOEFL(iBT) score was 103-109; the SAT I Critical Reading mid-50% range is 570-663; and the SAT I Math mid-50% range is 678-790. Note: We do not currently consider the SAT I Writing score in our academic evaluation. We have so few international students who submit the ACT that it is difficult to determine a mid-50% score range, but to be most competitive, the score would most likely be in the upper 20s or low 30s.

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 early 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 final analysis that is used in 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.  

Financial Aid

International aid policies and projected comprehensive fees are posted here.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Please submit the CSS Profile. Our school code is 6252.

What do I need to do if I do not intend to apply for financial aid?

Students who do not intend to apply for financial assistance from Grinnell College do not need to submit any financial documentation during the application process. If you receive an offer of admission, we will guide you through the process of submitting the College Board’s Certification of Finances later in the spring, during the visa 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.

How much financial aid do you offer? Is it available to first-year and transfer international students?

The average grant/work aid award for students receiving aid in the class of 2017 was $29,800. We offer a full range of financial aid opportunities including scholarships, grants, loans and on-campus employment. Admitted international transfers are packaged in the same way as first-year applicants. 

I have high financial need. If I do not win an International Special Scholarship, what percentage of my demonstrated need is likely to be met by Grinnell?

Grinnell offers international grants that typically meet between 70% - 85% of your need, as determined by Grinnell’s review of your CSS Profile.

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 qualification that would guarantee a particular grant or scholarship amount.  

Does Grinnell raise tuition every year?

How a college handles the inevitable annual tuition increases can have a significant future impact on your financial aid situation. Like most schools, Grinnell tuition typically increases by a small percentage annually. However, unlike many schools, Grinnell increases gift aid by 100% of any tuition increase.


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 click on "Connect with your admission representative on the road" link located near the top of the page. 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.

Skype interviews may also be a possibility, only after you have officially submitted your Common Application and CSS Profile to Grinnell. Please keep in mind that all interviews must be completed at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. To make arrangements for a Skype interview, please send your request by email, after you have submitted the Common Application and the CSS Profile, to intladmission[at]grinnell[dot]edu. At this time, we are not set up to offer alumni interviews.

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 ultimate decision; largely due to issues of fairness, because the vast majority of our international applicants are unable to have interviews.

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.   

Resources for International Students