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Financial Aid for New Students

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping you and your family apply for and receive financial aid…before you enroll and in future years! In the fall of 2018, 90% of students applied for financial aid, with over 75% of them qualifying for need-based aid. Over 85% of first-year students received merit-based aid.

Regardless of your income, if “cost” is a factor in deciding where you will enroll, be sure to complete the financial aid process outlined below, so that our office can provide you with details of your eligibility!

Below is the process for U.S Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Details for international students

Details for undocumented students 

Fall 2019 FAFSA Deadlines
Illinois residents: Nov 15
Non-Illinois: February 1 

* The Illinois Student Assistance Commission has set the FAFSA submission deadline for MAP Grant consideration: May 26, 2019.

Spring 2020 Instructions

Step 1. Submit the 2019-2020 FAFSA 
(“Free Application for Federal Student Aid”)… 

…even if you have not applied or been admitted.

Add Lake Forest to an existing FAFSA

Step 2. (Optional) Complete ”special circumstance forms”

Priority deadline, December 1. Late submissions are accepted.

  • Please complete any applicable form(s) only if your cost exceeds the minimum amount shown. Return them to the Office of Financial Aid. If possible, save as a .pdf and send by email. You may also fax or send by mail to the number/address at the bottom of the form.

    • Educational Expenses - your parent pays $2000+ for his/her education, or for a siblings (grades K-12 only) during 2019-2020 academic year
    • Educational Loans - parent borrower now repaying $2000+/year to his/her own loan, or a loan for expenses for a sibling who is no longer in college
    • Healthcare Expenses - parent pays $3000+ in 2017, 2018, or 2019 not paid with “pre-tax” dollars
    • Unusual Expenses - parent pays $2000+ for childcare, funeral, legal, etc. in 2018 or 2019

Step 3. (Optional, but encouraged!) Research “outside scholarships” through your high school, parent’s employer(s), civic groups, etc. For starters, check out our resource page!

Step 4. Review “What Happens Next” (below)


Fall 2020 Instructions 

Step 1. Submit the 2020-2021 FAFSA, available October 1, 2019
(“Free Application for Federal Student Aid”) 
Complete it even if you have not applied or been admitted.

Helps (more available on our FAFSA page): 

  • FAFSA Worksheet (see definitions and collect answers in advance)  English   Spanish


  • Illinois residents: December 1, 2019
  • Non-Illinois residents: February 1, 2020


Step 2. (Optional) Complete ”special circumstance forms”

Available near October 1

Priority deadline, December 1. Late submissions are accepted.


Step 3. (Optional, but encouraged!) Research “outside scholarships” through your high school, parent’s employer(s), civic groups, etc. For starters, check out our resource page!

Step 4. Review “What Happens Next” (below)

  Your Award Letter  

Once you have been admitted and submitted all financial aid documents, we will prepare an “award letter” showing the aid you qualify to receive. Details are on your Admissions Portal.

Please let us know if you do not wish to receive your Award Letter online, or text message alerts related to financial aid.

How to Read Your Award Letter provides you with descriptions of the aid we have offered, financial aid policies related to that aid, and other important information.

We may require additional information from you at some time in the process. If so, we will also use email to let you know. We may even send an occasional text message to alert you to an important e-mail we have sent. Need to submit the V-1 Verification Worksheet? Click here. Other forms we may have asked for are found here.

Compare Award Letters

Not all awards from various Colleges are presented equally, making an “apples to apples” comparison more difficult. Make sure you clearly identify “free funds” (grants and scholarships) and loan funds. One school’s offer of $40,000 in financial aid that includes $10,000 in loans is similar to another school’s offer of $35,000 in financial aid with $5000 in loans.

Take time to see which offer truly makes the most sense for you/your family, based on the resources you have available. Create a spreadsheet of your own, or use a tool such as those created online by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or FinAid.org the College Board’s comparison tool.

When using these tools, consider including only “direct costs” of tuition, fees, room and board to show differences in what you will owe each college. Consider other “real costs” like books, travel and personal expenses separately, based on your best estimate or those provided by each college/university.

Next Steps
About Tax Returns

Do not send your tax returns to our office. If required, we will ask you for the necessary IRS documents.

Worth Every Penny
  • Forbes Magazine has Lake Forest in the top 7 percent on its recent list, ranking institutions based on alumni with the highest salaries. 
  • PayScale.com named Lake Forest 11th in the nation among liberal arts colleges for the best return on investment. The College was ranked #1 among liberal arts colleges in Illinois, and fourth in Illinois college and universities.
  • Ranked #83 in Kiplinger’s list of Best Values in Liberal Arts Colleges and #193 among all colleges.
  • An impressive 97 percent of the Lake Forest Class of 2015 was either employed or in graduate school six to nine months after graduation.

Learn about what other rankings and guides have to say.

Parent Access to Student Information
If you want to be able to access information about financial aid, billing, grades, etc., during the summer and during the school year, read about how

Federal Student Aid

FSA ID Required!

An FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) is an “electronic signature” required of all students and parents when applying for need-based financial aid. It is used to sign your financial aid application (FAFSA) and your student loan application, and to access your FAFSA throughout the year. 

Apply for an FSA ID

Important Note: Separate FSA IDs are needed for the student and at least one parent. 

Federal Student Aid (FSA) Academic Qualifications

To receive FSA funds, a student must be qualified to study at the post-secondary level. A student qualifies if he or she:

  • has a high school diploma (this can be from a foreign school if it is equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma);
  • has the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a general educational development or GED certificate, or students who are beyond the age of compulsory attendance within that state and pass a test that demonstrates the student’s ability-to-benefit (ATB) from the educational program in which the student is enrolled.
  • has completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law; or
  • has completed secondary school education in a home-school setting which qualifies for an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law, if state law does not require a home-schooled student to receive a credential for their education.

For more information on any of the bulleted information above, click here.