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How We Calculate Need

Grinnell meets 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need. But what does "demonstrated financial need" mean?

The primary responsibility for meeting the costs of higher education rests with you and your family to the extent that you are able to pay. The difference between the cost of your education and the calculated ability of your family to meet those costs is the eligibility for financial assistance.

To calculate each family's ability to pay, Grinnell uses federal and institutional formulas that take into account the information reported by the family on the financial aid application. The family share of expenses calculated by these formulas represents our best estimate of your family's capacity to contribute to your education cost.

Grinnell meets each student's demonstrated need using a combination of scholarships, grants, and student employment. Financial aid may be adjusted when you receive additional outside sources of funding.

Grinnell's Net Price Calculator and Quick Cost Estimator can help you estimate your need-based financial aid eligibility.

Family Share of Expenses

Parents are responsible for paying college costs to the extent their income and assets permit. The parent contribution is determined by first deducting non-discretionary expenses such as taxes and basic cost of living expenses from income. With the remaining income and assets, parents are then expected to contribute a portion of each toward educational expenses.

Students are also responsible for part of the cost of education. Grinnell expects students to contribute from summer employment income ($2,500), work-study during the year ($3,000 for new students and $3,150 for returning students beginning in 2024-25), and savings. Student loan options are available if you want to use those in place of work or in addition to work.

To determine eligibility for need-based financial aid from Grinnell College, we require and use data from the CSS Profile. Consequently, it is likely the student's need for federal aid (as determined by the FAFSA) will differ from the need for institutional financial aid.

Grinnell presupposes that both parents are primarily responsible for the student's educational expenses. Divorce or separation of a student's 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.

Parent Refusal to Pay

To be fair to all of our students, we can only base our financial aid decisions on ability and not willingness of parents to pay.

Independent Status

In most cases, a student must be 24 years old to apply for financial aid as an independent student. Students who believe they may qualify for independent student status should contact the Grinnell Office of Financial Aid before completing their applications. Students entering Grinnell as dependent students will remain so for institutional financial aid purposes regardless of age or marital status.

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