National Merit and Achievement Scholarships

Carleton sponsored 36 National Merit Scholarships in the entering class. Those selected will receive a renewable total stipend of $2,000 per year. National Merit and Achievement Finalists designating Carleton as their college choice are eligible for consideration for a Carleton-sponsored Merit or Achievement Scholarship. These scholarships represent the only “non-need” or “merit” awards available at Carleton. Other college funds are awarded on the basis of financial need.


Grants are gift assistance awarded to meet the financial needs of eligible students. Normally, grants are provided by a variety of sources and there is no expectation that they be repaid.

Carleton Grants

Carleton Grants represent the largest source of gift aid for students with financial need. During the 2020–21 year, Carleton students received over $48 million from College resources to meet their needs. These grants come from gifts and endowments to the College and from the College’s own operating budget. Carleton’s commitment to meeting financial need is clearly at a high level by providing such a large amount of its own resources to the financial aid program.

State/Federal Grants

Carleton also participates in the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and the Federal Pell Grant programs. Application for these programs is made by completing the FAFSA. More information about these programs and other Federal aid programs can be found through the Federal Student Aid website.

Residents of Minnesota, including those at boarding schools in other states, will be considered for the Minnesota State Grant Program, also by completing the FAFSA. A more detailed description of this program is available on the Minnesota Office of Higher Education website.


Loans provide students with an opportunity to participate in the financing of their own education through utilization of future earnings resulting from and enhanced by the benefits of their education.

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

Carleton participates in the Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan Program. The Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan Program enables students with demonstrated need to borrow directly from the Department of Education as a means to finance their educational expenses. 

Interest is paid by the federal government while the student is enrolled in college and during the grace period. Repayment begins six months after the student ends his or her studies. The 2020–21 interest rate is fixed at 2.75% with repayment extending up to ten years. Under certain repayment plans, repayment may extend beyond ten years.  Students who are not eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan may seek the Federal Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan. These loans are not subsidized or underwritten by the government and may require interest payments while the student is enrolled in college.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

Federal Direct PLUS Loans for parent borrowers can provide additional funds for educational expenses. The 2020–21 interest rate for the Federal Direct PLUS loan is fixed at 5.3%. Federal Direct PLUS loans are made to credit worthy applicants by the Department of Education. Parents of dependent undergraduate students may borrow up to the full cost of education minus other financial aid for each dependent student. Borrowers do not have to demonstrate need. A borrower generally must begin repaying a Federal Direct PLUS loan within 60 days after the final loan disbursement in a given academic year. Interest begins to accumulate at the time the first disbursement is made. Normally, repayment is made over a five-to-ten-year period. The number and amount of payments depends on the size of the loan.

Monthly Payment Plan

A Monthly Payment Plan is available at Carleton College. Families may participate in this interest-free monthly payment plan which allows for payment of the comprehensive fee for a particular academic year to be spread out over that academic year. Equal payments can be set up for a 12-month period starting June 1 or equal payments for an 11-month period starting July 1. The plan has a $55 annual fee to enroll (subject to change). The monthly payment plan may be used to cover all or a portion of annual tuition, fees, and room and board. The deadline to enroll is August 15. The exact terms and conditions of the monthly payment plan are determined annually and may differ from what is described here. Parents who would like more information should contact the Carleton Business Office at 507-222-4179; visit them; or email them at

Student Employment

Student Employment is normally awarded to need-based aid recipients as a component of their financial aid award. Although a student may elect not to work during the school year and still receive other forms of assistance, most first-year students find working approximately eight hours per week manageable. College jobs are normally for work on the campus and include assignments in the food service, academic and administrative offices, the library, residence halls and facilities.