Things to Know about Financial Aid

Glossary of Terms
  1. Financial aid: funds available to college students to pay for their educational costs, in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study.
  2. Loan: funds borrowed at low interest rates for college costs. Loans must be repaid.
  3. Grant: a form of need-based aid that does not have to be repaid.
  4. Scholarship: aid based on academic achievement or special talents that does not have to be repaid.
  5. Comprehensive fee: the total cost of tuition, room and board, and student fees.
  6. Federal Work-study: need-based work award. Campus Employment and Grinnell Work-Study are institutionally funded work.
  7. Need analysis: the review process used to determine your estimated family contribution.
  8. 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.
  9. Financial need: the difference between your estimated family contribution and the estimated cost of education.
  10. 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.

Change of Circumstances

The Financial Aid Office recognizes a family's economic situation may change for a variety of reasons from one year to the next. We suggest you notify us in writing of changes in financial circumstances resulting from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Loss of employment or significant reduction in income or benefits
  • Unusually high medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Disability
  • Other unusual circumstances or expenses

The family will be required to document their circumstance by completing our "Request for Reconsideration" form. Each subsequent year a particular special circumstance persists, the family will be asked to submit documentation.

International students: a change in the number of household members in college does not constitute a special circumstance. This should be taken into account on the initial application and planned for accordingly.

Continued Eligibility

Annual renewal of financial aid is continuous if institutional financial need remains, all required documents are completed by our published deadline, and satisfactory academic progress is maintained, consistent with Grinnell College policy.

Terms & Conditions

Requirements for Crediting Financial Aid to a Student's Account:

  • Please note that you must sign all documents. A parent cannot sign for you.
  • Estimated financial aid will appear as a credit on your student account for the purpose of sending semester bills in June and November.
  • After September 10, "expected" Outside Scholarship(s) will no longer be credited to your account until the check(s) has been received from the donor. If you receive the check directly, forward it to the Grinnell College Office of Student Financial Aid.
  • After September 10, loans will not appear as a credit on your account until funds have been received.
  • If you have been awarded a Federal Perkins Loan or Grinnell College Loan, we will notify you at the beginning of the school term regarding times available to sign your promissory note.
  • If you wish to apply for the Federal Direct/Stafford Loan, you should complete the application process on our website beginning in May and before August 1.
  • First-time Direct Loan and Perkins Loan borrowers are required to receive entrance loan counseling. Counseling may be completed at .
  • All financial aid is subject to revision depending upon fund availability, changes in the family contribution, and/or credit load. Your award may be affected if you withdraw from Grinnell College or reduce your credit load to less than full-time status.
  • In the event that available state funds are insufficient to pay the full amount of each approved grant, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission has the authority to administratively reduce the award.
  • You must maintain satisfactory academic progress according to standards prescribed by Grinnell College.

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.

Reporting Additional Resources

If you receive additional resources, such as outside scholarships or tuition benefits, not listed on the award notification, you must contact the Office of Student Financial Aid immediately. Your award may need to be adjusted. It is your obligation to report any income and/or financial assistance not previously reported on your application.

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


Stay in touch.

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 Social Security number appear on all application documents. Sign in all of the right places and fill in all of the blanks.

Ask questions.

Write down with whom you spoke and when.

Keep good records.

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

Check out private sources of aid.

Look into sources such as employers, professional associations, labor unions, foundations, religious organizations, and clubs and civic groups, particularly those in which you and your family are involved. Libraries and high school guidance counselors are good resources of information and can provide publications about aid. Check out the Internet at

Check out government sources of aid.

Attend a financial aid night at a local high school and learn about government scholarships, grants, and loans. Pay particular attention to deadlines and information requirements.

Know what is included in the financial aid budget on which your award is based.

For example, does it include allowances for books, supplies, and travel?

Reapply every year.

Most financial aid awards aren't automatically renewed.

Remember the Office of Student Financial Aid is here to help.

Call at (641) 269-3250.

Useful Links

Financial Literacy
FAFSA and other Federal and State Web Sites