How do I apply for financial aid?

Carleton requires two forms to apply for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a federal application, and required for federal assistance. In addition, the College Board CSS Profile is required to determine a student’s need and eligibility for assistance at Carleton. More specific instructions can be found at the following sites:

Why does Carleton require the College Board CSS Profile?

Carleton primarily uses the College Board CSS Profile since we believe it produces a more refined and accurate assessment of a family’s need and their requirement for funding from Carleton.

How can I find out if my financial aid application is complete?

Prospective applicants should contact the Office of Student Financial Services. Returning students should check the Hub.

How do I create a FSA ID so I can complete the FAFSA?

Here’s a video that will explain the process to create a FSA ID.

Does Carleton offer merit based scholarships?

Financial aid at Carleton is primarily need-based. However, Carleton does participate in three merit scholarship programs: the National Merit Scholarship Program, the National Achievement Scholarship Program, and the National Hispanic Recognition Program. Students who are finalists in these programs are eligible for Carleton scholarships of $2,000 per year.

I am a National Merit finalist. How do I qualify for a scholarship?

If you have been named a National Merit finalist and have listed Carleton as your college choice with the National Merit Corporation, you will qualify for a National Merit Scholarship of at least $2,000 each year. Please note that although Carleton is a college sponsor, National Merit actually awards these scholarships according to their rules and procedures. With that in mind, it is important that eligible recipients maintain communication with National Merit.

Will Carleton match the grant assistance offered by another college?

No. Financial aid at Carleton is based on financial need, and will not be influenced by assistance offered by another college. However, if the differences in aid awards are due to changes in the family’s financial circumstances that were previously not communicated to Carleton, the application may be reviewed again when the additional information is provided.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

Yes, if you receive assistance beyond National Merit or Campus Employment you need to file for financial aid each year. You can find instructions on how to reapply for financial aid for the upcoming academic year on the information page for returning students.

Will my financial aid package change after my first year?

Carleton is committed to being affordable and meeting the full demonstrated financial need of students for all four years of attendance. In most cases, we will attempt to keep aid awards as constant as possible in subsequent years. However, as significant changes in a family’s finances occur (both positive and negative) an aid award may also change to reflect those circumstances. Students can also expect their loan amounts to increase in subsequent years along with our cost increase. In most cases, student loans will increase by about $1,000 in each subsequent year. Last year’s graduating class had an average 4-year cumulative loan debt of $19,405.

What happens if my parents’ financial situation changes in the middle of the year?

If there is a significant change in your family’s financial situation, you may submit a request for a review of your new financial situation. The request must be in writing and should explain what changes have occurred. The request should contain specific changes (dollar amounts, dates, etc.) along with documentation to verify the request. See our Financial Aid Review page for more information about this process.

I’m trying to determine if I can be considered independent for financial aid purposes. What do I need to provide to Carleton for that determination?

Because of specific documentable issues a student faces, there may be times a student can be considered independent for financial aid purposes. See the Dependency Override Guidelines document, which outlines the process and circumstances that would be considered.1

I forgot the password to my FSA ID.

Here’s a video that will help you reset your password.

I forgot the username to my FSA ID.

Here’s a video that will help you recover your username.

If I do not qualify for need-based aid, what other aid is available?

Even if you do not qualify for need-based aid the following may be available to help with financing Carleton: Student employment, Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loans), and various alternative loans. For information regarding other loans options, see the non-need-based loan information.

I am going to study off-campus on a non-Carleton program. The program’s fees are less than a term at Carleton. Will my need-based financial aid be adjusted?

Yes. Carleton students can take their need-based financial aid on ONE approved non-Carleton program. If that program’s fees are less than a term at Carleton, your need-based aid will be adjusted

I am going to study off-campus for a term and student employment is part of my financial aid package for that term. Can I request additional funding to replace the work component of my financial aid?

You have some options:

  • During terms in which you are enrolled on campus, you may work up to 15 hours per week to make up lost work earnings. You should check with SFS to determine your eligibility.
  • Request a loan to replace the student employment award for the term you are off-campus.

Why is my student employment not reflected on my student account?

Student employment dollars must be earned! You can designate 0–100% of your earnings to be applied directly to your student account. Select “Student Payroll Tuition Payment Authorization.”

My family has a 529 plan. How is that reported on the financial aid applications?

If a 529 plan is owned by a dependent student or the student’s parent (custodial parent if the parents are divorced/separated), it is reported as a parent asset on the financial aid applications. If the 529 plan is owned by anybody else, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or non-custodial parent, it is not reported as an asset on the financial aid applications.

What is Verification?

More detailed information about the federal verification process can be found on our “What is Verification?” page.

What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

Normally a student is expected to fulfill all graduation requirements in four years or the equivalent of 12 academic terms. All students are subject to academic review and thus are assumed to be making satisfactory progress as long at a normal rate of progress which is considered to be 17 or 18 credits per term. More information about satisfactory academic progress can be found in the college handbook.

Does Northfield Option affect my financial aid award?

No. Northfield Option will not change the amount of financial assistance you receive since there are expenses when living off campus.