Financial Aid

Apply for Financial Aid

To apply for financial aid, you must do the following:

  1. Apply for admission to Hillsdale College. On your application, check the appropriate space to indicate your intent to apply for assistance. To be considered for any form of financial aid, a student must first have applied and been accepted for enrollment.

  2. Complete and submit the Hillsdale College Confidential Family Financial Statement (CFFS) as soon as possible. You may complete the CFFS online or download a PDF version. You may be asked to forward a signed and dated copy of your and your parents’ most recent tax returns.

  3. International students should contact the Financial Aid Counselor for information regarding need-based consideration.

The analysis of the family’s financial circumstances (income, assets, expenses) as indicated on the CFFS is the basis of consideration for most forms of aid.

You may also submit our early estimate form to get an idea of your eligibility for need-based financial aid sources.

How Need is Determined: An Overview of the Expected Family Contribution

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount the family is expected to pay toward college costs. This amount is determined by analyzing the family’s overall financial posture and comparing it proportionally with other families’ financial circumstances. The financial need is the amount of the cost of attendance that the family contribution falls short of covering. To determine the EFC and financial need, the Office of Student Financial Aid uses a formula (methodology) which was developed by financial aid professionals in consultation with economists to measure a family’s ability to pay for college.

The formula takes into account the following:

  • Total income (taxable and non-taxable)
  • Assets from bank accounts, investments and properties (not the primary home or IRAs and similar retirement accounts)
  • Expenses for private elementary/secondary tuition and medical/dental expenses that are not reimbursable (no discretionary expenses, i.e. credit cards, home improvements, automobiles, etc.)
  • Age of older parent
  • Number of family members attending college (excluding parents)
  • Family size

Required documents for verification:

  • Both the student’s and the parents’ completed and signed tax returns including schedules and statements (if the student did not file, a Non-Filer Statement will be supplied)
  • W2s
  • Current bank statements, records relating to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments (excluding IRA and similar retirement accounts)
  • Social Security income, child support, AFDC, and veteran’s benefits
  • Business and farm records (a Business/Farm Supplement can be supplied)
  • Tuition expenses for private elementary/secondary schools
  • Written confirmation of sibling(s) attending college full time (i.e. a current class schedule and/or a letter from the registrar)
  • Death certificate(s)
  • Divorce papers
  • Loss of employment by the major wage earner

The adjusted gross income (AGI) from the federal income tax form is used as a basis to determine family income. The methodology adjusts the parents’ AGI, disallowing certain losses and adjustments permitted in the federal tax system, but ones that do not affect the family’s ability to pay for college. Untaxed income from Social Security, child support, and/or other sources is also considered in determining the family’s total income. Both the student’s and the parents’ incomes are taken into account.

The methodology deducts the following allowances from income before determining how much of the parents’ income should be earmarked as available for college expenses:

  • Federal income taxes paid (actual amount; not from W2 statements)
  • State and other tax allowances (the rate depends on the state of residence)
  • Non-reimbursable medical and dental expense allowance (Schedule A of the tax return)
  • Parent income protection allowance (depends on the size of the family and the number of children in college)
  • Employment expense allowance (a percentage of the lower income if there are two incomes)
  • Adjusted net worth of business or farm (a percentage of the net worth)
  • Asset protection allowance (this depends on the age of the older parent—intention to exclude a reasonable allowance for emergencies, retirement, and educational savings)
  • Private elementary/secondary tuition allowance

After deducting taxes and other appropriate allowances from the total income, a portion of the remaining available income is utilized for college expenses. The methodology considers assets in determining a family’s ability to pay for education, but only a small percentage of the parents’ assets are expected to go toward college expenses. Students’ assets are assessed at a higher rate than parents’ because not only should education be their first priority, but they also do not have the overhead expenses of running the household.

The methodology provides the most equitable indicator of how each family’s financial strength compares to other families in the applicant pool. Although the EFC may appear to be unavailable, using a carefully planned strategy of combining a variety of economic resources makes financing possible. Financial aid methodology works on one basic principle: students and parents are responsible for contributing to the cost of college to the extent they are able. Families who are unable to contribute the entire cost will qualify for gift aid and/or self-help financial assistance.