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.

Instructions for:

The steps below are for U.S. citizens and permanent residents applying for need-based financial aid (grants, loans, work-study). Note that we do not require the CSS Profile.

If this is your first time applying for financial aid, you may want to watch this two-minute video (it will download to your computer as a .wmv file).

Applying for Spring 2016

Step 1. Complete the 2015-2016 FAFSA* (en Español)

Step 2. Complete “special circumstance forms” (optional)

Important Notes

Illinois residents must submit the FAFSA by February 21, 2015 to be considered for Illinois MAP Grant funds. If received on or after February 22 you will be on a “waiting list” for MAP Grant funds. (In recent years, FAFSAs submitted within a week of the deadline have received funds.) Even if you do not receive a MAP Grant, Lake Forest will offer other financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans) if you qualify. 

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

What Happens Next… 

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 mid-February. It will be sent by e-mail to both student and parent, and - shortly thereafter - by regular mail.

How to Read Your Award Letter connects you to 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.  

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.

Learn about what other rankings and guides have to say.

Examples of Scholarship Scams

In January 2014, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators reported about a fake scholarship fund that sends a congratulatory message and even a check in the mail, and then it asks the student to send them a check for taxes and fees in return. The check from the scholarship company bounces, and then the student suffers the costly consequences, even identity theft.

In January 2013, our office heard from several students who received an email claiming to be from the Robert Sterling Scholarship Foundation.  A scholarship is offered and awarded based on very limited information from the applicant, and a false scholarship check is sent. They contact you later to say the check was larger than it was supposed to be.  They ask you to deposit the first check immediately, and write a check to them to cover the excess amount you received. The problem? the check you received from them is bad and you will have lost the money that you sent to them.

If you ever have a question about a scholarship offer that sounds (or smells) “fishy” feel free to contact the Office of Financial Aid (, 847-735-5103) and we will try to help determine if it is legitimate.