Financial Aid Basics

Navigating financial aid for college can be confusing for families. We're here to guide you through the process.

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is money to help you pay for college. It doesn’t come out of your savings or earnings.

Financial aid has two main categories: need-based aid and merit-based aid. Need-based aid is awarded based on your ability to pay for college. Merit-based aid is given based on talent or ability, such as academics and music.

At Luther College, we offer both need-based aid and merit-based aid to our students.

What are the types of financial aid for college?

Grants are free financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. They can be offered by the state and federal government or from your school. Grants are a need-based type of aid.

Learn more about grants

Scholarships are also free aid dollars. They are generally merit-based, but some also have a need-based aid component. Some scholarships are granted upon admission, but there are others you can apply for separately.

Check out our scholarship opportunities

The federal work-study program funds part-time jobs for students who qualify. Luther also offers additional funding for work-study positions so that all students who are eligible to work in the United States can find a work-study job on campus.

Learn more about our work-study program

Federal student loans are special loans for students from the government. These loans can have fixed interest rates, income-based repayment plans, and be subsidized. They are a need-based type of aid.

Learn more about federal student loans

Private student loans are loans from a bank or credit union. Each lender will set its own terms and conditions, which will often be based on your credit score. They are designed to pay any balance that remains after the financial aid offer. Many private student loans will allow the borrow to select a fixed or variable rate of interest. They are not a need-based type of aid.

Learn more about private student loan programs

Do I qualify for need-based financial aid?

Determine how much financial aid you qualify for by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must fill out a FAFSA to be considered for federal aid as well as for certain college and state assistance.

Find out how to apply for financial aid

The FAFSA is used to calculate your Student Aid Index (SAI). This will help determine how much aid you will receive from Luther.

Find out how Luther determines financial need

International Students

While international students are not eligible for state or federal grants, you are still eligible for need-based aid and academic scholarships at Luther.



Undocumented and DACA Students

We encourage students to apply regardless of citizenship status. While you are not eligible for state or federal aid, you still qualify for Luther’s merit-based scholarships and may have access to additional financial aid.

Net Price Calculator

Want an estimate of how much a Luther education will cost you? Use our Net Price Calculator to estimate how much financial aid you might qualify for.

What is a financial aid offer?

Schools create financial aid offers for accepted students to show the cost of attendance for one academic year. It includes any eligible grants, scholarships, and loans.

When you are accepted to Luther College, you will find out what Luther merit scholarships you would be awarded based on your application. Once you file a FAFSA, you will receive a complete financial aid offer with information about grants, loans and other aid. If you filed your FAFSA previous to your acceptance, then will receive your complete financial aid offer more quickly.

Your financial aid offer from Luther is based on your Student Aid Index (SAI)as determined by FAFSA. If your SAI is less than the total cost of a Luther education, you will be eligible for financial aid.

Need more help?

Contact the Luther Financial Aid Office with any questions you may have. We would love to walk you through this process.

Phone: 563-387-1018
Email: Financial Aid