Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Financial Aid Program

The mission of the Financial Aid Office is to provide access to a St. Olaf education by proactively serving and educating families of varied economic backgrounds. Financial aid programs are administered with a commitment to equity, consistency and transparency in awarding resources.

The responsibility for financing a St. Olaf education rests first with the student and his or her family. All new students who wish to apply for financial aid must complete the College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Returning students must complete the FAFSA and the St. Olaf Online Financial Aid Application. Using a standardized formula, these documents generate, on the basis of the family’s financial situation, the amount of the student’s annual educational expenses the family is expected to meet. That amount is the “expected family contribution.”

“Demonstrated need” is the difference between the annual educational expenses at St. Olaf College and the expected family contribution. Demonstrated need is the basis on which most St. Olaf financial aid is awarded. The college provides each student with a financial aid package, which may include scholarships, grants, loans, and/or student employment to meet full demonstrated need.


Only full-time students who are degree candidates at St. Olaf College in their first eight semesters are eligible for financial assistance from the college. In most cases, students enrolled for a ninth or tenth semester are not eligible for some grant programs and have larger loan components in a fifth year of enrollment.

Financial aid is credited directly to the student’s comprehensive fee account. Financial aid is credited on an equal basis for the fall semester and the spring semester.


The endowment at St. Olaf (which had a market value of over $274 million in 2010) consists of funds contributed to St. Olaf by alumni, parents, faculty, staff, corporations, foundations, and other friends of the college. The income from those contributions is applied to — among other programs — grants, scholarships, and faculty research and travel.

Thanks to the endowment and other annual financial support, every student attending St. Olaf — whether receiving financial aid or not — benefits from an indirect form of financial assistance. Endowment earnings and annual gifts help support the operating budget of the college and allow St. Olaf to keep tuition charges at roughly 75 percent of the actual cost.


St. Olaf Academic and Service Scholarships: St. Olaf awards scholarships through the St. Olaf Academic Scholarship and the Service Leadership Scholarship programs. For information on how to apply for these programs, please contact the Office of Admissions at 507-786-3025 or 800-800-3025, or e-mail to

St. Olaf Academic Scholarships range from $6,500 to $16,000 per year. The awards are renewable for each of the recipient’s four years at St. Olaf. For merit scholarship renewal criteria visit

Many schools that offer merit and talent scholarships prescribe strict criteria with respect to a high school GPA, test scores, class rank, etc. We have found that such prescriptions often discourage very successful students from competing. As such, we are inclined to respect the differences among high schools and not list a set of minimum criteria for scholarship candidates.

Eligibility for St. Olaf Academic Scholarship awards are based primarily on academic performance in high school, and the selection is highly competitive. Past recipients have generally presented a high school GPA of 3.8 or higher and are often in the top five percent of their high school graduating class. Evidence of participation in extracurricular activities in addition to academic performance is valued.

Recipients of St. Olaf academic awards may be designated a Buntrock Scholar, Presidential Scholar, or a St. Olaf Scholar. Up to 150 students are selected as finalists for the Buntrock award — our top academic scholarship — and are invited to campus for a series of programs and faculty interviews in March.

Candidates who are not selected to interview on campus are automatically considered for a Presidential or St. Olaf award and are notified of the committee’s decision in mid-March.

The St. Olaf Service Leadership Scholarship recognizes the talents and abilities of those students who have given significant time and effort for the benefit of others. Students who have been involved in community service activities, either on a personal level or as part of a larger group, are encouraged to apply for this service award. Applicants for this award should complete the St. Olaf Application for Admission and submit a detailed résumé of community service involvement, including types of activities and length of service by January 15 of their senior year.

Candiates who apply to the College and indicate an interest in receiving merit scholarships will automatically be considered for the academic and service scholarships. Service Leadership Scholarship applicants should also submit a detailed resume of their involvement in community, school and/or church.

National Merit Scholarships: Applicants who have designated St. Olaf College as their first-choice college with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation are eligible for the St. Olaf National Merit Scholarship award. St. Olaf sponsors merit scholars at the rate of $7,500 per year.

Fine Arts Scholarships: The St. Olaf Fine Arts division offers a variety of merit scholarships to incoming students who have excelled in the areas of music, dance, art, and theater. Refer to this website to learn more about eligibility and application criteria.


St. Olaf Grants are need-based grants from the College to the student that do not have to be repaid. The amount of the grant is based on the amount of need the family demonstrates through completion of the CSS/Profile and the FAFSA. St. Olaf Grants are funded through the generosity of alumni, parents, friends of the college, and other St. Olaf Funds.

STEP Grant Program: (St. Olaf Education Partnership) provides up to $1,000 per year per student as a match to scholarships given by Lutheran congregations to their members attending St. Olaf.

Federal Pell Grant is a federally-based grant program with awards ranging from $555 to $5,550. The amount of the award is determined by the federal government.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): is a federally-funded grant program for students with financial need. The amount of the award — up to $4,000 per year — is determined by the Financial Aid Office.

TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant program is a federal grant program that provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to juniors and seniors who plan to teach full-time in high-need fields in public or private elementary or secondary schools that serve low-income students. Recipients of TEACH Grants must teach for at least four academic years within eight calendars years of completing their program of study. IMPORTANT: Students who fail to complete the service obligation will have all amounts of the TEACH Grants received converted to Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans that must then be repaid to the U.S. Department of Education. Interest will be charged from the date the grant was received.

Minnesota State Grant is a program limited to students who are graduates of a Minnesota high school or whose parents currently reside in Minnesota. Awards, ranging to approximately $9,200 per year, are determined by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

For state grant purposes, full-time is defined as at least 3.75 courses per semester, or 2.75 courses one semester, an Interim course, and 3.75 courses in the other semester. Students who are enrolled in fewer hours during the school year will experience reductions in State Grant amounts.


Federal Perkins Loan Program offers long-term loans for students who demonstrate financial need. The amounts vary, but cannot exceed $4,000 per year.

No interest is charged, nor is repayment required, while the borrower is enrolled as at least a half-time student. Perkins loans have a fixed interest rate of 5% and repayment begin nine months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled or is enrolled less than half-time. Repayment must be completed within 10 years.

Federal Direct Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized):  Most students qualify for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, which can provide up to $5,500 per year for first-year students, $6,500 for second-year students, and up to $7,500 for third and fourth year students.

The type of loan awarded is based on demonstrated need.  Federal student loans are secured through the Federal Government via the William D. Ford Direct Loan program.  As an undergraduate, a student may borrow up to a total of $31,000 through the Federal Direct Lending Loan program.  Direct loans are subject to a 1% origination fee.

On subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest during the in-school and deferment periods.  On unsubsidized loans, interest accrues during the in-school period, but payment of principal and interest can be deferred until the student leaves school.  Unsubsidized loans disbursed after July 1, 2006 have a fixed interest rate of 6.8%. Subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 have a fixed rate of 3.4%. 

Repayment begins six months after a student ceases to be at least a half-time student and is normally completed according to a 10-year repayment schedule.  For those students who borrow about $4,000 or less, minimum monthly payments of $50 are required but result in a repayment period shorter than 10 years.

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS): Parent loan for undergraduate students (PLUS) is a program open to credit-worthy parents of St. Olaf students. PLUS funds are secured through the Federal Government via the William D. Ford Direct PLUS Loan program. The PLUS program is guaranteed by the federal government and is insured against the death of the borrower.

Parents may borrow up to the cost of education minus financial aid received. The interest rate on Direct PLUS Loans is fixed at 7.9%. PLUS loans are subject to up to a 4% origination fee. Repayment on PLUS loans begins within 60 days after receipt of loan proceeds and can be extended over 10 years. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required.


More than one-half of the students at St. Olaf work on campus part-time.

Need-based, part-time employment on campus traditionally has offered students the opportunity to help defray their college expenses and gain useful work experience. Recognizing that many people value the chance to contribute to their education, the college attempts to make student employment opportunities available to every St. Olaf student who wishes to work. Priority continues to be given, however, to those students who demonstrate financial need and receive student employment as a component of their financial aid award.

Students are paid a wage of $7.40 per hour or more, depending on the job. Typically, student work awards range from $1,800 - $2,300, which equates to approximately 6-10 hours per week. Work awards are not a guarantee that a student will earn a specified amount through campus employment. Rather, it is a maximum amount a student has the potential to earn. Student employment on campus usually includes assignments in the cafeteria, the library, residence halls, and academic, athletic, or administrative departments.

Specific work assignments are given to new students who have been awarded student employment and who complete a First Year/Transfer Student Employment Application form. New students are notified of their assignments when they arrive on campus.


Financial aid is awarded on an annual basis and may be renewed to eligible students upon application. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the St. Olaf Online Financial Aid Application must be submitted by April 15 each year. The amount of the renewal award is based on demonstrated financial need.

Students may obtain information and application instructions from the Financial Aid Office.


Satisfactory Academic Progress
To maintain eligibility for all types of financial aid, students must make satisfactory academic progress towards a degree.  The standards for maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) are based on federal regulations and may differ from standards developed by the Registrar’s Office. The standards, outlined below, are cumulative and include all periods of enrollment, whether or not the student received financial aid. 

Qualitative Standard of Progress:  All students are required to meet the minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) shown on the chart below.
Quantitative Standard of Progress:  All students are required to complete the minimum number of courses in the timeframe outlined in the chart below. 


















3 7 10 14 17 21 24 28 31 35



1.50 1.50 1.75 1.75 1.87 1.87 1.90 1.90 1.95 2.00


Maximum Time Frame Standard:  Four years or eight semesters is the standard time frame for completing a degree.  St. Olaf grants and scholarships are awarded for eight semesters only.  Students who enroll in a ninth or tenth semester may be eligible for federal loans and alternative education loans.  All federal financial aid recipients are expected to complete their degree at St. Olaf within an acceptable period of time.  The maximum time frame for federal financial aid recipients is 150% of the published program requirements.

Evaluation Period:  The Financial Aid Office will evaluate Satisfactory Academic Progress after each period of enrollment (Fall, Interim/Spring, and Summer if applicable).

Failure to Meet Standards:  Students who are not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress standards are notified in writing (via the St. Olaf email address).

If, at the end of the evaluation period, a student has not met either the qualitative standard (GPA) or the quantitative standard (number of completed courses), the student will be placed on Warning for one evaluation period.  Students on Warning are eligible to receive financial aid.

If at the end of the Warning period a student who has been on Warning has met the both the qualitative standard (GPA) and the quantitative standard (number of completed courses), the Warning status is ended and the student is returned to good standing.


If at the end of the Warning period, a student who has been on Warning status HAS NOT met both the qualitative standard (GPA) and the quantitative standard (number of completed courses), or the maximum time frame standard, the student shall be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and will not be eligible to receive financial aid.


A student who is placed on Financial Aid Suspension has the right to appeal based on special, unusual, or extenuating circumstances causing undue hardship such as a death in the family, student’s injury or illness, or other special circumstances. 

For St. Olaf’s complete Satisfactory Academic Progress policy, including detailed information on appeals, probation, suspension, and regaining aid eligibility, please visit the Financial Aid Office website at: or contact the Financial Aid Office.


Families of students who do not qualify for financial aid on the basis of FAFSA applications may qualify for alternate sources of assistance, such as:

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Student Private Alternative Loans


More detailed information on financial aid can be obtained in the financial aid brochure distributed by the Office of Admissions, at the website of the Financial Aid Office (, or by contacting the Financial Aid Office, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN 55057-1098, 507-786-3019, toll-free 877-235-8386 or