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Apply to Grinnell

You’re ready to take the next step in becoming a Grinnellian.

We’re here to tell you what you need to know, connect you to resources, and answer any questions you have.

Admission to Grinnell is highly selective, which simply means we get more applicants than we have room for in our classes. We have room to enroll only a limited number of new students each year. 

We’re committed to building a diverse and inclusive community of scholars from a variety of backgrounds and with different worldviews. We believe that interacting with others of differing viewpoints can introduce you to new perspectives and expand your thinking — plus, it makes life more interesting!

While no single factor guarantees admission to Grinnell, there are some characteristics that are undeniably Grinnellian and can help you stand out from the rest. For example, showing that you’ve taken a challenging, balanced high school curriculum. That you’re ready to explore the world and contribute to the greater good. And that you’re eager to find your place in a supportive, inspiring community.

If that sounds like you, we encourage you to demonstrate your interest in Grinnell by requesting information to learn about application timelines, scholarships, and the college search process. Consider doing an admission interview and applying Early Decision (or as we say, ED), especially if Grinnell is your first choice. Lastly, to complete your application, you’ll need to submit the Common Application and a few other things that will help us get to know you.

Tips From Our Admission Experts

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The Application Essay

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Test Scores

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After Applying

What happens to my college application after I submit it?

First-Year Applicants

We’re thrilled that you’re interested in becoming a full-fledged Grinnellian. Let’s talk timelines, scholarships, and everything you can expect when applying to Grinnell. We’re here to help you with the application process and answer any questions you might have.

Let’s begin

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    Application Requirements

    There’s no minimum GPA or test score to get into Grinnell. We look at the full scope of your application to determine if we’re the best fit for you.

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    Early Decision Applicants

    If we’re your first choice, you should consider applying Early Decision. Not only is the acceptance rate higher than with Regular Decision, but you’ll receive your admission decision months earlier. That’s true whether you apply Early Decision I or Early Decision II.

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    International Applicants

    Did you know that about one in four members of our student body come from outside of the United States, representing almost 50 countries? Here at Grinnell, you can truly meet the world. If you are interested in becoming a part of our global community, you'll need to submit all the standard application requirements along with a few financial forms, recommendations, school reports, exam scores, and optional supplemental materials. Because physical distance often makes it impossible for our international students to visit campus. we offer more opportunities for you to share details about yourself — your accomplishments and aspirations — by submitting supplemental materials, such as an additional letter of recommendation, a brief research summary, a resumé, or a few samples of your best work in the creative or performing arts.

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    Undocumented Students (including DACA-Designated Students)


    Grinnell welcomes applications from all students, regardless of citizenship or visa status. If you are an undocumented student (including DACA status), you should submit the same first year or transfer application as any other student. Similar to all other applicants, Grinnell will review your application holistically, taking into account all pieces of your application file.

    Financial Aid

    We meet 100% of demonstrated financial need of all admitted students, including undocumented students. To apply for need-based aid as an undocumented student, you will need to submit the CSS Profile and submit a signed copy of your parent federal tax form (if required to file) and W-2’s as applicable. We offer scholarships, grants and student employment. Grinnell does not include loans in the aid offer that meets need. If you cannot work and do not have DACA status, you may receive an optional Grinnell College Loan in place of the student employment, which is $2,500.

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    First-Generation Students

    If neither of your parents has completed a four-year degree, then Grinnell College considers you a first-generation student. Even if that isn’t exactly your situation, all of the resources described in this section are available to you. 

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    We’re proud to partner with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit organization that connects high-achieving, underserved high school students with educational opportunities at some of the best colleges and universities in the United States. Every year, QuestBridge provides these opportunities to low-income high school students across the country through its College Prep Scholarship program and National College Match program. We're also honored to participate in Questbridge's three National College Admissions Conferences every year.

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    An interview isn’t required for admission (and you may only interview once), but it’s a great chance for our staff to get to know you more and find out if Grinnell is a good fit for you. We offer interviews on campus, off campus, and online. 

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    Recommendations and Portfolios

    What do others think about you? Have you led teams and organizations? You’ll need to submit a couple different letters of recommendation so we can know you better. Auditions and portfolio reviews are not requirements for admission, but for students interested in the arts, you’re welcome to submit your work for us to review. That way we can get the full scope of the talent and passion you’d bring to our community.

Transfer Applicants

Every school has a different feel. We’re thrilled that you’re interested in Grinnell. Know that no matter where you are in your college career, we’re here to work with you and make sure you have the resources and guidance to complete the application process.

Transfer to Grinnell

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    DMACC Preview Program

    We’ve partnered with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in an agreement to encourage qualified DMACC students to consider transferring to Grinnell College. Check out the Grinnell College/DMACC Preview Program. This will give you ample time to see whether we’re a good fit for you, so you can make sure you’re taking the right courses to lay the groundwork for a Grinnell degree.

Advanced Scholars Program

If you’re a current high school student with outstanding academics, this program gives you the opportunity to study at Grinnell College while you’re completing your diploma requirements. This is a great option, especially if you’ve exhausted your school’s course offerings in certain subjects.

Get an Early Start

Meet the Staff

We’re excited to meet you and uncover all the great things you’ll bring to our community. The better we know you, the better we can advocate for your admission. Our staff members have a wide range of expertise, and we’re happy to talk through your specific questions about applying to Grinnell or where a Grinnell education can take you.

Get to know our team

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    Contact the admission team

    We’re here for you. Our staff provides resources and guidance, and of course, we’re here to answer any questions you have about Grinnell or the college application process. Just let us know.

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