Need Analysis refers to the process used to determine aid eligibility. At its foundation, we assume that parent(s) and students will both contribute toward college expenses.

To objectively determine what families can contribute, we use a standard analysis of the family’s financial data provided on the CSS Profile and the FAFSA:

  1. Federal Methodology (FAFSA): Used to qualify for Federal and State financial aid.
  2. Institutional Methodology (CSS Profile): Used to determine overall aid eligibility and need for assistance. Carleton primarily uses Institutional Methodology since we believe it produces a more accurate and equitable assessment of a family’s need. You can find more detailed information about how Instituional Methodology works by reading Understanding Need Analysis.

We also know that this system is not perfect and may not address special circumstances. In those cases, students and guardians can request a financial aid award review. Note that we cannot make award adjustments that would require exceptions to the standard principles and practices we use for all families.