Skip Navigation

How We Calculate Need

The questions we hear most often are "How much will my family be expected to contribute?" and "How much financial aid can I expect to receive?"

Unfortunately, there's no fast and simple answer. Each family's expected contribution varies based on income, assets, family size, ages of family members, number of students in college, and other factors.

Determining Your Expected Contribution

Carleton uses three primary sources of information to calculate need and ability to pay:

  1. CSS/PROFILE -- the College Board's PROFILE form.
  2. FAFSA -- the U.S. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  3. Federal income tax returns for parents and students who have paid the enrollment deposit.

Once the Office of Student Financial Services receives the PROFILE and FAFSA, we use this data and standard guidelines to calculate your family's expected annual contribution. The student is also expected to contribute a minimum of $2,000 per year.

A final financial aid award will be generated after the enrollment deposit has been paid and the Office of Student Financial Services has received both the student and parent federal income tax returns.

Determining Financial Need

Financial need is roughly defined as the difference between the cost of attending Carleton minus the expected family and student contributions.

Based on this need, Student Financial Services staff will determine your eligibility for Carleton grant assistance and all federal and state grants. Eligibility for other aid programs is determined at this time as well.

What If Circumstances Change?

If your family‚Äôs situation changes significantly after you have received your award, we encourage you to contact Student Financial Services (SFS) in writing detailing the changes.  The written request will be reviewed by the SFS staff to determine if any adjustments in the student's award is warranted.

This page is a basic overview. For complete details on how Carleton calculates need, please see: