The aid you’re eligible to receive from federal, state, institutional, and private sources is based on your family’s income, the availability of funds, and the estimated cost of attending the college of your choice (including tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other living expenses). In the sections below, you can read more about how your need is calculated and how that information is used to determine the amount of aid you receive.

The First Step: the FAFSA
Your very first step is to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the only form you’ll need in order to apply for the grants, loans and scholarships that come from the federal government. However, the FAFSA can also be used by states and other sources of financial aid to determine your eligibility, so it’s very important for every student to complete one.

Each state and college might have its own deadline, so check with your college and the FAFSA website to ensure you complete your FAFSA in time.
Once you complete the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes this financial information and includes your Student Aid Index (SAI). Your SAI details the amount you or your family is expected to contribute toward the price of your education.

How Do Colleges Calculate How Much Aid I Receive?
Using your SAR and SAI, colleges will typically calculate the amount of federal and state grants, loans, and work-study for which you qualify based on specific formulas and the availability of funds. After taking into account any federal and state aid that you’re receiving, our colleges work hard to fill gaps with college-based scholarships and grants.

This is the point at which private colleges and universities differ from public colleges. Because the cost to attend an independent college or university can be higher, our campuses provide multiple scholarship opportunities to help make attending our institutions as affordable as possible.

In fact, on average the total amount of scholarship and grant funds awarded by our institutions exceeds the total amount of funds our students receive from federal dollars.

For more information, please contact the financial aid office at the college or university of your choice. Our financial aid officers would love to talk with you about how to make your choice affordable for you and your family.

The Facts: How Financial Aid is Determined