How Aid is Determined

Financial aid includes funds in the form of grants, scholarships, work study or loans that are made available to students and their families. These funds are designed to assist students and their families with college costs.

Aid can be considered either gift aid or self-help aid. Gift aid is awards that do not need to be repaid such as grants and scholarships. Self-help aid includes work study and loans.

Financial aid programs can be offered through the federal government, state government, Grand Valley and other agencies. To be considered for most financial aid programs, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students are eligible for some form of financial aid, therefore it is important to file your FAFSA.

Once you have filed the FAFSA, you will receive a FAFASA Submission Summary (FSS) that includes your Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is what our office will use to determine your financial need at Grand Valley.

To determine your financial need we also have to review your Cost of Attendance (COA). All schools create a COA based on several factors including: tuition, housing, food, books, transportation and personal expenses. These factors will have a different cost at each school. Therefore, the COA is going to be different at each school.


Federal Student Aid Estimator

students near library

Need Formula

Financial Need Formula

Your financial need is determined by taking your cost of attendance (COA) minus your Student Aid Index (SAI). Understanding the cost of attendance, your Student Aid Index and financial need will help you understand your award notification.

Need-Based Aid

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Federal Nursing Loan
  • Federal Work Study


Non-Need-Based Aid

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan (parent and graduate)
  • Alternative Loan
  • Federal TEACH Grant

Page last modified April 5, 2024