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Scholarships and Grants

Merit Scholarships

All first-year applicants to Grinnell College are considered for merit scholarships. No separate application is required, but priority consideration for scholarships is given to students who submit their application for admission by Dec. 1.

Grinnell College awards merit scholarships on a holistic basis during the admission process, taking into account each student’s academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, demonstrated leadership, and/or special talents. As a result, scholarships are awarded in the same way to students who are admitted in early decision and regular decision. All scholarships are renewed each year for four years of study provided the student maintains a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75.

While scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit, they are considered a resource when determining eligibility for need-based financial aid. For example, if a student has $22,000 of calculated need and receives a merit scholarship for $25,000, this student would not receive need-based aid since the scholarship exceeds the need.

Currently enrolled students and recent alumni may also want to review the list of scholarships and fellowships administered by the Center for Careers, Life, and Service — including those for Grinnell-specific awards and for national, merit-based awards.

Note: As a member of the NCAA Division III, Grinnell College does not award financial assistance on the basis of athletic ability.

Grinnell awards Founders’ Scholarships of varying amounts to select admitted students based on academic merit, extracurricular involvement, demonstrated leadership, and/or special talents.

A student who chooses to apply early decision demonstrates their commitment to Grinnell. In return, Grinnell shows its commitment to domestic students who are admitted early decision with the Grinnell Choice Scholarship. This is a $10,000 annual award, renewable for a total of eight semesters. Domestic students who are admitted early decision are guaranteed this minimum scholarship award of $10,000. (Note: two exceptions are explained below.) Select students will receive a Founder’s Scholarship in addition to the Grinnell Choice.

Students from Iowa are eligible for a minimum of $12,000 in scholarship upon admission. This scholarship for Iowa students is awarded in place of the Grinnell Choice Scholarship.

Students eligible for staff, ACM, or GLCA tuition remission are not eligible for the Grinnell Choice Scholarship.

The Laurel Scholarship is a Chicago-based, small mentorship program that offers prearrival programming, a full-tuition scholarship, and additional need-based financial aid to assist with the cost of room and board for those who qualify.

Through this program, students will benefit from the opportunity to bond with a cohort and prepare for the college transition with mentorship from recent Black alumni.


  • Home address in the City of Chicago or Cook County, IL
  • Black or Afro-descendant (if multiracial, Black must be one of the races)
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident


All eligible applicants for admission to Grinnell College will automatically be considered for the scholarship. There is no separate application required, and students do not need to indicate on their application that they are interested in the scholarship. Please note, Grinnell College defines a full application as either the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application. Those wishing to be considered for need-based financial aid, in addition to the Laurel Scholarship, should follow the application instructions outlined on the financial aid webpage.

Applicants will be considered for the scholarship during Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision, but preference will be given to Early Decision applicants. Transfer applicants and QuestBridge Match students who match with Grinnell will not be eligible to receive the scholarship.

Grinnell College is committed to students like you — bright, curious, open-minded students from our home state. Consequently, Grinnell College awards, at a minimum, a merit scholarship of $12,000 per year to every newly enrolled student who is an Iowa resident. This reflects our long-standing connection with Iowa and the way Iowa helps to define Grinnell. The most qualified Iowa residents admitted to Grinnell may receive a higher merit scholarship.

National Merit finalists may receive a National Merit Scholarship from one of three sources, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), one of their corporate sponsors, or a college or university. If a student has not been selected by another source, Grinnell College can sponsor the scholarship for finalists who list us as their first choice school with the NMSC.

If you have questions regarding National Merit’s deadlines or how to designate a first choice school, please visit the National Merit website or call 847-866-5100. We recommend that when you pay your admission deposit, you also designate/confirm your first choice school with National Merit.

Grinnell-sponsored National Merit Scholarship:

  • $2,000 per year for eligible students
  • Renewable for 3 years as long as the NMSC’s eligibility requirements are met
  • As part of a need-based aid package, student loan or campus employment may be reduced
  • Finalists selected for a non-renewable NMSC-sponsored or corporate-sponsored award will receive a Pioneer Grant in years 2–4 to create a total 4-year award comparable to the Grinnell-sponsored National Merit Scholarship.

Need-Based Grants

  • Eligibility determined by the FAFSA EFC, which may be no greater than $5,711 for 2020–21 awards
  • 2020–21 awards range from $657 to $6,345 annually (contingent on federal funding)
  • Must re-apply annually
  • Federally-funded and awarded by the institution to students with exceptional financial need or eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Ranges from $200 to $4,000 per academic year with limited funding
  • Must reapply annually
  • Federal scholarship beginning in 2018–19 for Pell-eligible students whose parent or guardian died in the line of duty while performing as a public safety officer*
  • Must be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, less than 24 years of age or enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of parent or guardian’s death
  • Award is the maximum Pell Grant, which is $6,345 for 2020-21 awards (contingent on federal funding)
  • Must reapply annually

* For purposes of the CFH Scholarship, a public safety officer is as defined in section 1204 of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796b); or a fire police officer, defined as an individual who is serving in accordance with state or local law as an officially recognized or designated member of a legally organized public safety agency and provides scene security or directs traffic in response to any fire drill, fire call, or other fire, rescue, or police emergency, or at a planned special event.

  • State-funded grant for Iowa residents with a FAFSA EFC no greater than $15,000
  • 2020-21 award maximum is $6,200
  • Reapply annually by the State of Iowa deadline
  • In the event 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.

An alumnus of Grinnell, Hopkins was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s closest advisors and an architect of the New Deal. Hopkins’ commitment to social service and social justice and his thoughtful approach to crafting and implementing policy on the most pressing issues, reflect the values of Grinnell College and the potential we see in you.

Hopkins also played an unofficial role in foreign diplomacy during World War II. His contributions exemplify how Grinnellians are deeply engaged with the world. We encourage you to take advantage of the global opportunities Grinnell will present to you.

  • Funded by generous gifts and our endowment
  • Eligibility determined by Grinnell College and based on CSS Profile application data
  • Award amounts are based on need and calculated annually. Awards typically do not decrease without significant changes to family circumstances, especially changes to the number of siblings enrolled in college, and may increase if family resources are impacted negatively (e.g., loss of income).
  • Limit of eight semesters of eligibility, prorated for transfer students
  • May be replaced with a specific endowed scholarship
  • Graduate from an Iowa high school after Jan. 1, 2018, and be admitted to Grinnell College
  • Submit a completed application for financial aid by the appropriate deadline
  • Have a total annual family income below $75,000 and limited assets*
  • Enroll as a first-time, full-time undergraduate student

*Final eligibility is determined through a comprehensive assessment of family income and assets.

Full program details

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships and other benefits awarded for higher education expenses are funds with no affiliation to Grinnell College. However, if you receive financial aid from the College and are awarded an outside scholarship or benefit, you must report it to the Office of Financial Aid.

Please see the Outside Scholarship Tip Sheet (PDF) for more information.

Although we do our best to vet the sources, we cannot guarantee the legitimacy of every scholarship. Always use caution when applying for scholarships from an organization unfamiliar to you, and never provide your social security number.

Scam Warning Signs

  • charges a fee
  • money-back guarantee
  • requires social security number, credit card number, or bank account information

Review Fastweb’s Scholarship Scams Tip Sheet (PDF), for additional information. Another trusted and useful site is FinAid’s Scholarships.

Scholarship search websites are popular, and several are listed below. Although we can’t say for certain, the effectiveness of such sites may be minimal. As always, use caution when sharing personal information. It’s worth your time to read their privacy policies.

Additional Resources

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