Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Financial Aid Program

The financial aid program at St. Olaf College has one primary objective: to make it possible for qualified students to obtain an education at St. Olaf. The college operates on the premise that all students admitted to St. Olaf and in good academic standing are worthy of financial assistance to attend St. Olaf if financial need is demonstrated.

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 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 scholarship, grants, loans, and/or student work to meet 100 percent of the 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 $330 million in 2008) 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 scholarships are available to incoming first-year students, transfers, and returning students. Eligibility for a St. Olaf scholarship is based on demonstrated need, other financial aid, scholastic standing, activity record, test scores, recommendations, and full-time enrollment.

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..

Other Merit-Based Scholarships: St. Olaf also 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 Admission at 507-786-3025 or 800-800-3025, or e-mail to

St. Olaf Academic Scholarships range from $5,000 to $14,000 per year. The awards are renewable for each of the recipient’s four years at St. Olaf.

Many schools that offer merit and talent scholarships prescribe strict criteria with respect to a high school G.P.A., 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 G.P.A. 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.

In addition to completing a St. Olaf application for admission, candidates must complete and return the St. Olaf Academic Scholarship Application no later than January 15 of their senior year.

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.


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

The Federal Pell Grant is a federally-based program with awards ranging from $976 to $5,350. The amount of the award is determined by the federal government.

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

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) is a grant from the Federal government and does not have to be repaid.  It is awarded to Pell Grant eligible U.S. citizens who have completed an academically rigorous high school program, as defined by federal regulation.  It is available for the first two years of enrollment at St. Olaf, and can only be renewed in the second year if the student has achieved a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.

National SMART Grant will provide up to $4,000 for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study to full-time students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and who are majoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security.  For the 2009-10 academic year, Pell Grant recipients at St. Olaf who major in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Russian and who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 may qualify for the award.

TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant program is a new 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 which 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 $9,444 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 significant reductions in State Grant amounts.


Federal Perkins Loan Program: Long-term loans for students who demonstrate financial need are available through the federal Perkins loan program. 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. Simple interest 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 Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized):  Most students qualify for a Federal 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 beginning in 2009-10.  As an undergraduate, a student may borrow up to $31,000 through the Federal Direct Lending Loan program.  Direct loans are subject to a 1.5% origination fee.

For a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest during the in-school and deferment periods.  For an unsubsidized loan, 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, 2009 and June 30, 2010 have a fixed rate of 5.6%. 

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.

Student Educational Loan Fund (SELF): Student educational loans are available to St. Olaf students irrespective of need. The maximum SELF loan is $7,500 per year. These loans, made available by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE), carry a variable interest rate (generally 6-8%). Interest is charged and paid quarterly during “in-school” periods. Monthly “interest-only” payments are expected in the first year following the completion of a student’s schooling. Monthly payments toward interest and principal begin on the first anniversary of the completion of school.

Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS): Parent loan for undergraduate students (PLUS) is a program open to the parents of all St. Olaf students. PLUS funds are secured through the Federal Government via the William D. Ford Direct PLUS Loan program beginning in 2009-2010. 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.


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

Need-based, part-time work 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 work 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 work as a component of their financial aid award.

Students are paid a wage of $7.40 per hour or more, depending on the job. The maximum yearly contract of about $2,300 for no more than 10 hours of work per week is 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 work on campus usually includes assignments in the cafeteria, the library, residence halls, and academic, athletic, or administrative departments.

Specific work assignments are given to students who have been awarded student work 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 Financial Aid Application must be submitted by April 15 each year. The amount of the renewal award is based on demonstrated financial need. Renewal applications are considered in the same manner as new applications.

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


Satisfactory Academic Progress
In order to maintain eligibility for all types of financial aid, students must achieve the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) criteria described below.  These criteria are based on federal guidelines, and may differ from standards developed by the Registrar's Office and the faculty.  The chart below shows the minimum number of courses that must be completed at St. Olaf and the minimum cumulative St. Olaf G.P.A. requirements to meet SAP criteria.

All periods of enrollment are counted for SAP, including terms in which a student did not receive financial aid. Students must achieve these minimum standards to be considered for financial aid:


















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


All students are reviewed for Satisfactory Academic Progress at the end of Spring semester.  If SAP criteria have not been met, then the student is placed on Financial Aid Probation (FAP).

During FAP, academic progress is assessed at the end of each term.  A student on FAP must complete three course credits each semester and one credit during Interim, with a semester GPA of 2.00.  If a student does not meet these requirements during FAP, the student may not be eligible to receive financial aid in the subsequent semester.  If the student does meet the FAP requirements, probation will continue until the student achieves the minimum requirement for SAP.  Students are notified in writing of Financial Aid Probation status or ineligibility for financial aid due to not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements.

A student who is ineligible to receive financial aid due to SAP guidelines may send an appeal letter to the Financial Aid Office describing circumstances that impacted the student’s ability to successfully meet the minimum requirements. 



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

Minnesota Student Education Loan Fund (SELF)
Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Student Alternative Loans


More detailed information on all arrangements for financial aid can be obtained in the financial aid booklet 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