Financial Aid & Scholarships

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As the cost of college continues to rise, paying for college is increasingly a concern for many families.  We hope the information on this page helps guide you through the process of applying for financial or merit aid.

How Is Financial Need Determined?

All public universities and many private colleges use the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)  to determine a family's eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid and to determine the student's Estimated Family Contribution.

Some private universities also require families to complete the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA in order to be considered for financial aid.

Estimated Family Contribution (EFC):  Based on income, each family is expected to contribute to the student's college costs.  Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.  

Prior to completing the FAFSA, families can go to or to College Board's Big Future to estimate their EFC.

Total Cost of Admissions:  Total annual cost to attend the college, including tuition, room & board, books & fees. 

Total Cost of Admissions - Estimated Family Contribution = Demonstrated Financial Need

Colleges are not required to meet a student's demonstrated financial need.  When researching colleges, students can find out the % of financial need met to determine how likely the college is to offer financial aid.  Please note:  colleges use both financial aid grants and student loans to meet demonstrated financial need.  Student loans must be repaid.

What is Merit Aid?

In addition to providing aid to families with demonstrated financial need, colleges may also offer students grant aid in recognition of their high school accomplishments.  When researching colleges, students can determine if the college offers merit aid and the average grant awarded in order to assess the likelihood of the student receiving merit aid.

Financial & Merit Aid Award Letters

After receiving an acceptance letter, student's will also receive a financial award letter.  A student's financial aid letter might include:

Total Cost of Attendance - Grants (Financial Aid Grants & Merit Grants) - Student or Family Loans (must be repaid) = Net Cost Of Attendance (amount the student/family must pay each year).