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Apply for Aid

The financial aid application process varies depending on what type of financial aid you want, your citizenship status, and whether you are a prospective or returning Grinnell student.

Merit Scholarships

Dec. 1 is Grinnell’s priority deadline for merit scholarships. Only the Common Application or the QuestBridge Application must be submitted by this deadline for priority consideration. No separate scholarship application is required. Merit scholarship eligibility is determined based on the application for admission.

Need-Based Financial Aid

Important Dates

Aid Applicant Status

Early Decision I Applicant

Early Decision II Applicant Regular Decision Applicant Fall Transfer Applicant Returning Grinnell Student

Financial Aid Deadline

Nov. 15* Jan. 5* Jan. 15* April 1 April 1

Aid Notification

mid-late December early February late March or early April mid-May on a rolling basis beginning by early May

*The 2024-25 FAFSA opened in December 2023. Due to its delayed opening, the FAFSA is not required by the deadline for applicants to the College who will be first-time college students. Admitted students who decide to attend Grinnell and who receive need-based financial aid and/or want to borrow a federal loan must complete the FAFSA by May 1 so we can finalize federal and state financial aid eligibility. Find more details under “Guidance for Completing FAFSA and CSS Profile” and “Changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA” below.

For prospective students, financial aid deadlines correspond with admission deadlines. See below for a step-by-step guide on applying for need-based financial aid at Grinnell College.

How to Apply for Need-Based Financial Aid

The table below provides an overview of what is required to apply for need-based financial aid. Click on the status that applies to you for more information.


Need-Based Aid Application Requirements
Student Status FAFSA CSS Profile

Parent Federal 
Tax Documents

Grinnell Online Financial Aid

Prospective Domestic and Eligible Noncitizen Students





Prospective International and Domestic Noncitizen Students





Returning Domestic and Eligible Noncitizen Students




Returning international and domestic noncitizen students do not reapply for need-based financial aid since their aid is automatically renewed annually.

Consideration for Federal and State Aid Only

Prospective students who submit only the FAFSA will be considered for the following types of financial aid:

  • Iowa Tuition Grant
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Federal Subsidized Direct Loan (if requested)
  • Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan (if requested)
  • Federal PLUS Loan (if requested)

Guidance for Completing FAFSA and CSS Profile

The 2024–25 FAFSA and CSS Profile use income from two years prior (2022) for determining need-based aid eligibility. The CSS Profile became available on Oct. 1, 2023, and the FAFSA opened in December 2023. Grinnell expects to begin receiving applicants’ FAFSAs sometime in March. Due to the FAFSA’s delayed opening, applicants to Grinnell who will be first-time college students do not need to submit the FAFSA by the published deadline. Admitted students who decide to attend Grinnell and who receive need-based financial aid and/or want to borrow a federal loan must complete the FAFSA by May 1 so we can finalize federal and state financial aid eligibility. In the meantime, Grinnell is using the 2024≠25 CSS Profile and 2022 tax documents to determine financial aid eligibility.

Grinnell began receiving applicants’ FAFSAs in mid-March. It may take several weeks for applicants’ FAFSAs to be fully reviewed due to processing issues with the Department of Education. Financial aid eligibility should not change upon receipt of the FAFSA unless the FAFSA contains information that conflicts with the CSS Profile. If that happens, the Office of Financial Aid will reach out to the applicant to resolve conflicting information.

If you have completed a FAFSA in a previous academic year, you will notice some changes. Some of the most significant changes are summarized below:

  • All contributors to the FAFSA must have an FSA ID to access the form. Contributors without Social Security numbers will be able to set up an FSA ID when the FAFSA becomes available. Keep in mind that the FSA ID can still take up to three days to be verified, so it is a good idea to create the FSA ID well in advance of completing the form. Creating and Using the FSA ID (PDF) and the Federal Student Aid website provide additional guidance. Contributors are also required to set up multi-factor authentication.
  • Upon logging in with their FSA ID, each individual will only be presented with questions that pertain to them. For example, dependent students will no longer have access to the parent section of the form and vice versa.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is being replaced by the Direct Data Exchange. Most income questions on the FAFSA will now be transferred directly from the IRS via the Direct Data Exchange. If you are a U.S. tax filer, you will not be presented with income questions that can be answered with your IRS data.
  • If a dependent student’s parents are divorced, separated, or were never married, their custodial parent will now be the parent who contributed the most financial support instead of the parent with whom the student lived the most in the past year. Grinnell will continue to consider both parents’ circumstances when determining institutional financial aid eligibility unless a noncustodial parent waiver is granted.
  • The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is being replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is the new federal measure to assess ability to pay for college. Grinnell College will continue to determine an institutional family contribution for each student based on the College’s own policies and procedures, and each student’s full demonstrated need (the difference between the cost of attendance and family contribution) will continue to be met with student employment, grants, and scholarships. The institutionally determined family contribution is unlikely to be the same as the federally determined SAI.

Tax data should come directly from your 2022 federal tax documents. Help text is available in both forms for additional guidance. All contributors to the FAFSA are required to provide consent to share their data with the entities the student indicates (i.e., schools) on the FAFSA. After providing consent, Direct Data Exchange will automatically transfer tax information directly from the IRS for contributors who are U.S. tax filers. If you are not a U.S. tax filer, you will manually enter your income data.

If you are experiencing special or unusual circumstances, please feel free to provide additional information and documentation directly to the Office of Financial Aid using our secure site.

The household size and number in college questions refer to the 2024–25 school year. All other information requested on the CSS Profile and FAFSA, including marital status and assets, should be reported as of the date the application is submitted.

Changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA

Grinnell College uses its own need analysis formula guided by institutional policies to determine institutional financial aid eligibility. Institutional policies are not changing, and Grinnell will continue to consider the number of dependent household members enrolled full time in an undergraduate program when determining institutional need-based aid eligibility. As such, while changes to the FAFSA may impact eligibility for federal sources of financial aid (e.g., Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Subsidized Loan), Grinnell College students will experience no impact to their overall eligibility for financial aid as a result of changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA.

Grinnell meets the difference between the cost of attendance and an institutionally determined family contribution with financial aid from institutional, state, federal, and private sources. As such, any change in federal aid eligibility (e.g., Federal Pell Grant) after an initial notification of financial aid eligibility would result in an adjustment to an institutional grant so the total amount of financial aid does not change. In other words, the amount the family is expected to pay would stay the same. This has been Grinnell’s policy prior to the changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA.

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