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 provides financial aid awards using a combination of grants, loans, and campus jobs. The two primary types of aid at Grinnell are "gift" (scholarships and grants) and "self help" (loans and work). While the majority of your institutional need will be met with scholarships and grants, most of our financial aid packages combine gift aid with self help. Financial aid awards may be adjusted when you receive additional outside sources of funding.

Grab the most recent parent tax return and give Grinnell's Net Price Calculator or Cost Estimator a try.

Family Share of Expenses

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

Students are also responsible for sharing in the cost of education. Grinnell expects students to contribute from summer employment income ($2500), work-study during the year ($2200), borrowing annually, and savings.

For institutional financial aid (which differs from federal assistance) we require the CSS Profile. Consequently, it is likely the student's need for federal aid will differ from the need for Grinnell aid.

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

What if My Parents Refuse to Pay for My College Cost?

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.