Examples of Determining Cost, Need, and Financial Aid Packages

We carefully review each financial aid application. We start with a standard need analysis and from there, assess individual family situations. Here’s an example of how that process could work for two different hypothetical students.

Step 1: Determining the Cost of Attendance

While tuition, fees, housing, meal plans, and the amount we budget for other expenses like books remain the same, we account for the fact that travel expenses will vary based on where students are coming from. This is factored into your total cost of attendance (COA).

Determining the Cost of Attendance
Jamie from OregonNasim from Minnesota
Tuition and fees
$62,634$62,634
Housing and meals$15,990$15,990
Books and supplies$1,876$1,876
Travel expenses$1,100$250
Cost of attendance$81,600$80,750

Step 2: Determining Need

Your expected family contribution consists of the student contribution and the parent/guardian contribution. Expected contributions are determined by the information families provide in the FAFSA and CSS profile. Jamie is expected to contribute the minimum student contribution of $2,000. Jamie’s parents are expected to contribute $12,750. 

Nasim is expected to contribute $2,700. Nasim’s parents are divorced. It is determined her mother is able to pay $2,000 towards college expenses while her noncustodial father can contribute $3,300 toward her college expenses.

Determining Need
Jamie from OregonNasim from Minnesota
Cost of attendance$81,600$80,750
Student contribution-$2,000-$2,700
Parent contribution-$12,750-$2,000
Non-custodial parent contribution$0-$3,300
Demonstrated need$66,850$72,750

Step 3: Awarding the Financial Aid Package

First, we determine if students are eligible for any federal or state grant or loan programs. In our example, both Jamie and Nasim are eligible for a Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan. Nasim also qualifies for a Pell grant (income-based), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), and, since she is a Minnesota resident, a Minnesota State Grant. 

Both also qualify for up to 8-10 hours of student employment (our maximum to provide for balance) per week since they have remaining need after grants and loans are factored in. 

Last, any remaining need is met by a Carleton grant or scholarship.

Determining Financial Aid
Jamie from OregonNasim from Minnesota
Direct Stafford Loan*$4,500Direct Stafford Loan*$4,500
Pell Grant$2,145
SEOG$3,000
MN State Grant$9,461
Student Employment$2,700Student Employment$2,700
Carleton Grant$59,650Carleton Grant$50,944
Total Award$66,850Total Award$72,750

*We cap loan amounts at $4,500 for first-year students to keep total debt manageable.