Examples of Determining Cost, Need, and Financial Aid Packages

At Carleton College, each family is analyzed individually to determine their cost of attendance, their need, and their financial aid package. Although we start with the standard need analysis, each family is treated separately to take into account their unique financial situation. The descriptions below describe the process our office goes through to calculate two individual awards.

Number OneDetermining the Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance (COA) is determined by adding the individual costs of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, loan fees, and travel expenses. Some loans, primarily the Perkins loan, do not have associated fees and therefore, do not have additional costs. Travel expenses are variable, and are determined by the state of home residence. The two examples below indicate the costs of two hypothetical students for the 2016-17 academic year.

  Michael from
Jessica from
Tuition and fees $50,874 $50,874
Room and board $13,197 $13,197
Books and supplies $1,644 $1,644
Travel expenses $1,000 $150
Cost of attendance $66,715 $65,865

Number TwoDetermining Need

The expected family contribution consists of the student contribution and the parent contribution, both of which are determined separately in the need analysis. Michael was expected to contribute the minimum student contribution of $2,000. His parents were expected to contribute $12,650. Jessica was expected to contribute $2,700. Jessica's parents are divorced. It was determined her mother was able to pay $2,000 towards college expenses while her noncustodial father could contribute $3,300 toward her college expenses. The determination of need is shown below:

  Michael Jessica
Cost of attendance $66,715 $65,865
Student contribution   -2,000 -2,700
Parent contribution -12,650 -2,000
Non Custodial Parent Contribution   -3,300
Demonstrated Need $52,065 $57,865

It is 100% of the demonstrated need that Carleton College will then meet through a combination of grants, loans, and student employment. Therefore, Michael's financial aid package would be $52,065 while Jessica’s would be $57,865.

Number ThreeAwarding the Financial Aid Package

In awarding a financial aid package, the Student Financial Services Office would first determine if students are eligible for various programs, and then award those students that assistance. In the cases of these two students, both were eligible for a Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan. Jessica was further qualified for a Pell grant, SEOG, and, since she was a Minnesota resident, a Minnesota State Grant. Both also qualified for student employment since they had remaining need. After all the above financial aid is awarded, then any remaining need is met by a Carleton grant or scholarship. The financial aid packages are shown below:

  Michael   Jessica
Direct Stafford Loan* $4,500 Direct Stafford Loan* $4,500
    Pell Grant $1,965
    SEOG $3,000
    MN State Grant $6,169
Student Employment $2,340 Student Employment $2,340
Carleton Grant $45,225 Carleton Grant $39,891
Total Award $52,065 Total Award $57,865