Financial Aid for New Students

The Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping you and your family apply for and receive financial aid, both before you enroll and during your time here.


FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

On March 30, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Data Retrieval Tool on will be unavailable until measures can be taken to enhance data security. The online FAFSA application is still available and is operable. Instead of using the DRT you should manually enter the appropriate values from your 2015 tax return.



Fall 2017 Instructions

For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents 

While we are finalizing a few details of the process, the steps below are taken to apply for need-based financial aid (grants, loans, work-study). We do not use or require or the CSS Profile.

Print this checklist to help keep track of various dates/forms.

Step 1.
 Complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA
            “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”
            Read about the changes

  • Illinois residents: submit your FAFSA by January 15 to be considered for the Illinois MAP Grant ($4720). 
  • Non-Illinois residents: submit by February 15.
  • Need to add Lake Forest to your FAFSA? Here’s how to do it
  • Our School Code: 001706

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

  • 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 on the form.
    • Educational Expenses - parent paying $2000+ for him/herself or your sibling (grades K-12 only) during 2017-2018 academic year
    • Educational Loans - parent paying $2000+ toward loans in 2017 for which they are the borrower
    • Healthcare Expenses - parent paying $3000+ in 2015, 2016, or 2017, which are not paid with “pre-tax” dollars
    • Unusual Expenses - parent paying $2000+ for childcare, funeral, legal, etc. in 2016 or 2017

Step 3. Locate private scholarship funds (optional, available now!)

Step 4. Scroll down to “What Happens Next”

Other Student Groups, 2017-2018

International Students          Undocumented Students



What Happens Next… 

Your Award Letter 

Once you have been admitted and submitted all applicable financial aid documents, we will prepare an “Award Letter” showing the aid you qualify to receive. Our hope is to provide the Award Letter within two weeks of receiving your financial aid documents, beginning in late-December. The initial Award Letter will be sent by e-mail to both student and parent. We will attempt to provide a text message when that email is sent.

Please notify us if you do not wish to receive text message alerts, or emailed Award Letters. 

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. (Many of the forms we use are found here.) We may even send an occasional text message to alert you to an important e-mail we have sent.  

Compare Award Letters

Not all awards 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

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.


For International Students

Do not complete the FAFSA or steps above. Click here for details. 

For Undocumented Students

Do not complete the FAFSA or steps above. Click here for details.


Other Important Notes

For the 2017-2018 academic year, Illinois residents are strongly encouraged to complete the FAFSA by November 1 to be considered for the Illinois MAP Grant.

If you miss the deadline, your application will still be accepted, and we will offer (other) financial aid if you qualify. We cannot, however, replace the MAP Grant funds.

Not from Illinois? Our priority FAFSA is December 1. Applications are always accepted. Submit your application as soon as possible. 

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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.