Things to Know about Financial Aid

Glossary of Terms

  • Financial aid: funds available to college students to pay for their educational costs, in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.
  • Loan: funds borrowed at low interest rates for college costs. Loans must be repaid.
  • Grant: a form of need-based aid that does not have to be repaid.
  • Scholarship: aid based on academic achievement or special talents that does not have to be repaid.
  • Comprehensive fee: the total cost of tuition, room and board, and student fees.
  • Federal Work-study: need-based work award. Campus Employment and Grinnell Work-Study are institutionally funded work.
  • Need analysis: the review process used to determine your estimated family contribution.
  • Estimated family contribution: the estimate of what you and your family will be responsible for contributing toward the cost of your education for a single academic year.
  • Financial need: the difference between your estimated family contribution and the estimated cost of education.
  • Verification: the process of confirming information provided on the FAFSA.

Family Share of Expenses

The student and parents are responsible for paying college costs. The college expects that parents will assist paying the cost to the greatest extent their income and assets will permit. The student is also expected to share in the cost of education through working, borrowing, and savings. Grinnell encourages each student where practical, to seek aid from the community, regional, and national organizations.

All students applying for need-based aid are expected to apply for the Federal Pell Grant by completing the FASFA. The FASFA is also where parental contribution from income and assets is determined. Parent contribution is determined by first deducting non-discretionary expenses such as federal, state, and local taxes, social security payments, medical and other extraordinary expenses and a basic cost of living from income and assets. With the remaining funds the parents are then expected to contribute a portion toward educational expenses. Students are also expected to apply for state grants and scholarships that may be used at Grinnell.

A portion of the family's contribution is the responsibility of the student. Grinnell expects the student to contribute from income (summer employment, currently $2500), savings, and any other resources that may be available. Each year as applicable, a percentage of the student's savings, stocks, bonds and other assets are expected to be used to assist in defraying the cost of attendance.

For institutional financial aid (which differs from federal assistance) we require the CSS Profile. Consequently, it is likely the family's need for federal aid will differ from their need for Grinnell aid. Grinnell presupposes that both parents are primarily responsible for the students educational expenses, including the ongoing responsibility to house and feed the student to whatever extent possible. Divorce or separation of the natural parents does not release either parent from this obligation. Grinnell cannot require parents to contribute the amount determined, but neither will Grinnell use its student aid resources to compensate for any part of the calculated amount that parents choose not to provide.

What if My Parents Refuse to Pay for My College Cost?

If a parent(s) refuses to pay, a serious problem may exist. To be fair to all of our students, we can only base our decisions of financial aid on the ABILITY and not WILLINGNESS of parents to pay, and a decision to enroll at Grinnell must be made by you and your parents.

Withholding Aid

Students will be notified by the Grinnell College Office of Student Financial Aid if their federal financial aid will be withheld. Reasons for withholding aid include:

  • default on Federal Perkins Loan or Federal Family Educational Loan;
  • repayment owed on any previous financial aid;
  • male who has reached his eighteenth birthday, but has not registered with Selective Service;
  • documentation of citizenship;
  • any other circumstance that precludes aid from being finalized.

How You Actually Receive Your Financial Aid

  • Scholarship, grant and loan awards are credited directly to your college account and applied toward the comprehensive fee (tuition, fees, room and board).
  • Federal Work-study and/or Campus Employment will not appear as a credit on your account. Paychecks are issued twice monthly beginning in September. Students have the following options regarding earnings:
    • use toward the comprehensive fee; arrangements must be made with the Office of the Treasurer.
    • keep and use toward books, personal expenses, etc.

Cancellations and Withdrawals

Refund Policy


Please respond.

Respond promptly to any correspondence you receive from the Office of Student Financial Aid, and keep a record of all correspondence.

Complete forms carefully.

Mistakes can cause delays. Make sure that all information is accurate and that your name and student ID appear on all application documents. Sign in all of the right places and fill in all of the blanks.

Keep good records.

Save copies of forms, correspondence, and any other financial aid information.

Reapply every year.

Most financial aid awards aren't automatically renewed.

Useful Links

Financial Literacy

FAFSA and other Federal and State Web Sites