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Need-Based Aid

Need-Based Aid

Need-based aid makes college affordable for you, and includes borrowed, given, or earned money that is provided through a variety of sources. It is intended to make up the difference between what your family can afford to pay and what college costs.

How is Need-Based Aid Awarded? 

Application is made by a student through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The student must meet the general Title IV student eligibility requirements and must not have already received a first bachelor’s degree. Students must reapply each year. For renewal of institutional need-based grant and endowed funds, continuing students must also complete the Institutional Scholarship Application.

Financial aid awards are initially made based on the assumption that an undergraduate student will be enrolled full-time (at least 12 hours). If an undergraduate student is enrolled less than full-time, the amount of grants and scholarships that will be applied to their student account for that semester will be prorated based on the student’s enrollment. Undergraduate students enrolled in 9-11 hours will receive ¾ of each grant or scholarship amount applied to their student account. Undergraduate students enrolled in 6-8 hours will receive ½ of each grant or scholarship amount applied to their student account. Undergraduate students who are enrolled in less than 6 hours do not qualify for institutional grants or scholarships, however some federal and state grants are available for undergraduate students enrolled less than half time. These funds will be prorated according to the applicable federal or state rules.

Types of Need-Based Aid

Wheaton Grant

Wheaton Grant is generally the final component of a student’s gift aid award helping to meet a determined percentage of need as set annually by the College. Need-based grant awards are evaluated each year based on the information provided on the current year FAFSA application. Total need-based grants are capped at the student’s first year’s award level and the sum of all institutional gift aid is capped at the cost of a student’s tuition. Students with extenuating circumstances may submit an appeal for additional assistance.

The institutional awarding formula calculates a need-based grant award level which is sourced through federal, state, and need-based endowed scholarship funds with the remaining eligibility provided through Wheaton Grant.

Students must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for Wheaton Grant. For enrolled hours between 6-11 hours, the Cost-of-Attendance is revised, the need-based grant is recalculated and then prorated based on the number of billing hours. No additional Wheaton Grant is provided for hours over 18.

Wheaton Grant funds are awarded to students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must complete the application requirements prior to the end of the semester, as Wheaton Grant is not awarded for prior terms.

Wheaton Grant eligibility expires after eight semesters of enrollment. Students enrolling in a ninth or more semesters may petition for fifth year eligibility if there were extenuating circumstances requiring additional enrollment beyond 8 semesters. Academic Advising determines the hours needed for the student to complete the degree. Wheaton Grant may only be given towards remaining hours required for the degree, excluding hours for second majors or minors.

Wheaton College Need-Based Restricted Endowed Scholarships

Need-based endowed scholarship funds are provided as gift assistance to needy students. Students must meet the eligibility requirements for Wheaton Grant as well as any donor designated restrictions. These funds will serve as replacement funds for Wheaton Grant as a source for institutional aid and maintain the same limitations.

Wheaton Scholarship

The Wheaton Scholarship is offered to students who do not qualify for other need-based grants or scholarships, but for whom college costs could place a significant strain on financial resources as demonstrated on the FAFSA. 

Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA EFC in the first year, and the award is renewable for up to 8 semesters. A FAFSA is not required for renewal in subsequent years.

Federal Pell Grant

This is a federally funded grant, available to high-need students who meet the general Title IV student eligibility requirements and must not have already received a first bachelor’s degree. Students must reapply each year. The 2022-23 maximum Federal Pell Grant is $6,495.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

Eligible students are selected by Student Financial Services. Awards are made to Title IV eligible students with the lowest federal EFC (Expected Family Contribution) with priority to students who are Federal Pell Grant recipients. The maximum award is $4,000.

State Grants

Residents of Illinois and Vermont may be eligible to receive state grants while enrolled at Wheaton College. Students must meet the state’s eligibility requirements and apply by the state deadline. Information on the procedures and forms by which students apply, eligibility requirements and the criteria for determining the amount of the awards vary for each program on each state’s website for the Illinois MAP Grants, and the Vermont Grants. Delaware has a scholarship that can be used out of state if the student’s major is not available at a Delaware Public Institution, which is the Scholarship Incentive Program (ScIP).


The William D. Ford Direct Loan Program is a low, fixed-interest rate federal educational loan program available only to U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens. Students must complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility for either the Federal Direct Subsidized or Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study awards are available only to U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens, and students must complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility.  Student must have demonstrated need, and funds are awarded on a first-come, first served basis to new students based on the date of admission and FAFSA filing date. Awards are renewed if the student continues to have financial need and was employed in a FWS job the previous year. Continuing students not previously receiving FWS may contact Student Financial Services to be placed on a waitlist should funds become available.

Awards are initially $1,000 but may increase depending on the availability of funding. Wages are paid bi-weekly, based on hours worked. The amount indicated in the financial aid award letter cannot be deducted from the student’s college bill. Federal Work Study awards must be coordinated with other financial assistance to not exceed a student’s total need.

It is the student's responsibility to find a suitable job. Available FWS jobs, including on-campus positions and off-campus community service opportunities, are posted on Handshake (through the Center for Vocation and Career). The amount offered may be increased or decreased, depending on the estimated total earnings of the job(s) that the student chooses. Students have until October 1 to find a suitable job, but if a student has not found employment by October 1, and the student still wishes to participate in the program, the student must contact Student Financial Services to apply for an extension. If a student does not have an extension, and we have not received an employment authorization form from a department or employer on that student’s behalf, we remove the FWS eligibility and reassign the funds to another student.