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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 each year of your enrollment at the College!

In the fall of 2019, nearly 400 first-year students enrolled, with over 90% of the class applied for financial aid. Nearly 85% qualified for need-based aid, and a similar number received at least one scholarship from the College.

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.

Fall 2020 Instructions and Deadlines

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

Need to add Lake Forest to the FAFSA you already submitted?

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

The CSS Profile is not required for U.S. citizens.

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 2020-2021 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 2018, 2019 or 2020 not paid with “pre-tax” dollars
  • Income Change (parent) - a significant change vs. 2018
  • Income Change (student) - a significant change vs. 2018
  • Second Household Expenses - parents married, but living in different homes in different cities
  • Unusual Expenses - parent pays $2000+ in 2019 or 2020 for such things as dependent care, funeral costs, non-elective home repairs, legal fees, support of extended family, etc.

Step 3. (Optional, but encouraged!) Research "outside scholarships" through your high school, parents' 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 realted 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. If so, we may use email or an occasional text message to notify you. Do you need to submit the V-1 Verification Worksheet, and you're a "dependent student"? Click here for the 2020-2021 version. 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 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.

What Happens Next

After the FAFSA…

Within a few days of submitting your FAFSA online, you will receive an email notification that your application was processed. It will include a link to your Student Aid Report or “SAR”, which is a summary of your application. Review it carefully as it will tell you if there are any issues to follow up on. Feel free to contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have any questions.

Accepting Your Financial Aid

If you decide to enroll at Lake Forest, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit to “save your spot” in the class. Then, throughout the late spring and early summer months, you will complete numerous steps to prepare for your arrival in August and the beginning of the school year.

About Tax Returns

Do not send your tax returns to our office unless requested to do so. 


Approximately one-third of those who submit the FAFSA need to provide additional documentation as part of the “verification” process. If you need to submit the V1 Verification Worksheet you can email a .pdf or .jpg, or fax it to our office. Contact us if you need a different Worksheet.

Parent Access to Student Information

The Parent Portal at Lake Forest College gives families online access to a student's information so that they are kept informed of their activities at the College. But in order to gain access, they need to be enrolled in the Lake Forest College Parent Portal.

In order to establish permission, your student should log into my.lakeforest and select the ‘Student’ tab, then “Privacy Permissions” from the left-hand column, and then “Define New Permissions.” That’s where they will add you to the list of people who can see their information. 

The Parent Portal enables students to share with parents (or other parties) the information they want online while complying with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The permission that is granted can be cancelled or changed at any time by the student.

In the Parent Portal:

  • Students can share information with parents, including grades and GPA projection, class schedules, student account balances as well as financial aid awards and any outstanding documentation that may be required
  • The College can share information with parents or guardians quickly and easily
  • Parents can view information about a single student or multiple students in one convenient location

Questions? Contact Dean of Students Office - Cindy Orr 847-735-5203. 

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…and in future years! 

Apply for an FSA ID or get help with your 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.

Phone and Fax: 847-735-5103

Patterson Lodge, 2nd floor
Middle Campus, Map
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m

Appointments are appreciated, but are not required.