sidewalk and colorful trees on campus

Scholarships and Grants

Merit Scholarships

First-year applicants to Grinnell College are considered for merit scholarships. No separate application is required. Priority consideration for scholarships is given to students who submit their Common Application or QuestBridge Application by Dec. 1.

Grinnell College determines merit scholarship eligibility on a holistic basis during the admission process. The determination process takes into account each student’s academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, demonstrated leadership, and/or special talents. Scholarship eligibility is determined in the same way for students regardless of their admission decision round. All scholarships are renewed for four years as long as the student maintains a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75.

Merit scholarships 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. This includes Grinnell-specific awards and national awards.

As a member of the NCAA Division III, Grinnell College does not provide financial assistance based on athletic ability.

Grinnell provides Founder’s Scholarships to select admitted students based on academic merit, extracurricular involvement, demonstrated leadership, and/or special talents. Scholarship amounts may vary.

A domestic 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. Beginning with students admitted for the 2024–25 academic year, this is a $20,000 annual scholarship, renewable for a total of eight semesters. Domestic students who are admitted early decision are guaranteed this minimum scholarship of $20,000. (Note: two exceptions are explained below.) Select students will receive a Founder’s Scholarship in addition to the Grinnell Choice Scholarship.


  • International students are not eligible for the Grinnell Choice Scholarship.
  • Students eligible for staff, Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), or Great Lakes Colleges Association (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 and a full-tuition scholarship. Those who qualify can also receive additional need-based financial aid to assist with the cost of housing and food.

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


  • Home address in the City of Chicago or Cook County, IL
  • A record of academic success in a rigorous college-prep curriculum
  • Exhibited courage, determination, and/or leadership
  • Demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the well-being of their families, communities, and/or schools
  • 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. 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 Apply for Aid page.

Applicants will be considered for the scholarship during Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. Preference will be given to Early Decision applicants. Transfer applicants and students admitted through the QuestBridge National Match Program are not eligible to receive the scholarship.

Grinnell College is committed to students like you — bright, curious, open-minded students from our home state. Consequently, beginning with students admitted for the 2024–25 academic year, Grinnell College provides a scholarship of at least $20,000 per year to every newly enrolled student who is an Iowa resident.

  • For Iowa residents admitted through an early decision round, this $20,000 scholarship is called Grinnell Choice. The most qualified Iowa residents may also receive a Founder’s Scholarship.
  • Iowa residents admitted through regular decision will receive a Founder’s Scholarship of at least $20,000.

This scholarship program reflects our long-standing connection with Iowa and the way Iowa helps to define Grinnell.

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 Grinnell 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 three years as long as the NMSC’s eligibility requirements are met
  • If a recipient receives need-based aid, student employment may be reduced
  • Finalists selected for a non-renewable NMSC-sponsored or corporate-sponsored scholarship will receive a Pioneer Grant in subsequent years to create a total four-year scholarship comparable to the Grinnell-sponsored National Merit Scholarship

Need-Based Grants

Grinnell meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted students with work-study, grants, and/or scholarships.

  • Eligibility determined by the FAFSA
  • Maximum 2023-24 Federal Pell Grant is $7,395 (contingent on federal funding)
  • Must reapply annually by submitting the FAFSA
  • Federally funded and provided 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 by submitting the FAFSA
  • 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
  • The scholarship is the maximum Pell Grant, which is $7,395 for 2023-24 (contingent on federal funding)
  • Must reapply annually by submitting the FAFSA

* 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 $16,000
  • 2023-24 maximum is $7,500
  • Reapply annually by the State of Iowa deadline
  • If state funds are insufficient to pay the full amount of each approved grant, the Iowa Department of Education has the authority to administratively reduce the grant

Note: The Iowa Tuition Grant is only available to Iowa residents who meet the Iowa Department of Education’s eligibility requirements. Most state grants will not travel outside the state of legal residence. Please contact your state higher education agency if you are not from Iowa and want to know if your state offers grant assistance that travels to Iowa.

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 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
  • Grant amounts are based on need and calculated annually. Grants are typically similar from year to year. However, they may fluctuate if there are significant changes to family circumstances, especially changes to the number of siblings enrolled in college or a change in income. Grants may increase if family resources are impacted negatively (e.g., loss of income).
  • Limit of eight semesters of eligibility (prorated for transfer students)
  • Hopkins Grant may be replaced with a designated or endowed fund
  • 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 $100,000 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 are on the Iowa Access Initiative web page.

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships and other benefits provided for higher education expenses are funds with no affiliation to Grinnell College. If you receive 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 about Grinnell College's policies on outside scholarships and tuition benefits. You are required to report all outside scholarships and other private sources of funding to the Office of Financial Aid.

Outside scholarships may consider high school athletic participation, but they are subject to the restrictions below. Student-athletes must not accept scholarships that do not comply with these rules. Note: Scholarship agencies may be asked to certify compliance.

  • Provided only to students initially enrolling in college; cannot be provided to continuing students
  • Renewal criteria must not be based on athletics
  • Scholarships must be available for use at any institution
  • Scholarship donors may not have a direct connection to Grinnell College
  • Scholarship programs must be established, continuing, and not created for a one-time award

Although we do our best to vet outside scholarship 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 information on avoiding scholarship scams for additional information. Another trusted and useful site is FinAid’s Scholarships.

Scholarship search websites are popular, and several are listed below. The effectiveness of such sites may be minimal. Use caution when sharing personal information, and read their privacy policies. Additionally, we recommend speaking with your high school counselor to find out what scholarships may be available in your area.

Additional Resources

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows who have entered a Ph.D. program in a Mellon-designated field within 39 months of graduation from Grinnell are eligible for up to $10,000 in loan repayment benefits. For each year of full-time graduate study, one-eighth of your undergraduate debt (up to $1,250) can be paid by the Mellon Foundation through Grinnell College. Students who complete their doctorate are eligible for an additional $5,000 in loan repayment. Please refer to the MMUF website and Grinnell's MMUF page for additional details on the loan repayment program, including a list of eligible fields.

How to Arrange For Loan Repayment by the Mellon Foundation

  1. Complete the Application for Loan Repayment. Have a certifying official (graduate school dean or registrar) complete Section 9 at the end of each academic year that you were enrolled as a full-time student.
  2. Send the form to Office of Financial Aid, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA 50112-1690. An email confirmation will be sent to you each time a portion of your debt is paid by Grinnell College.
  3. Important Note: the fellow is responsible for any additional interest and/or principal payments required by the loan servicer. The fellow is responsible for communicating with the loan servicer about eligibility for deferment of repayment. Eligibility for deferment may be based on graduate school enrollment or other applicable criteria.

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