About the Need-based Aid System

The Concept: A Partnership

The need-based aid system provides financial assistance in the form of grants, loans, and work-study to eligible students. A partnership between the student's family, the college, and state and federal governments make the assistance possible.

The Family: Both the government and all colleges start with the assumption that the primary financial responsibility for educating the student lies with the student and his or her family. We assume that achieving a college education is a basic family goal, and that each family will do all it can to commit its financial resources to that goal.

The College: Centre commits over $17 million of its own funds each year to assist families in meeting college costs. We want to enroll able students from diverse backgrounds, and generous alumni giving allows us to provide this assistance.

State and Federal Government: Over the years, both the state and federal governments have supported higher education by providing financial aid funds to eligible students.

The Process: Personal Attention

Your financial situation is given personal attention at Centre. All relevant information will be taken into account by a financial aid officer and our financial aid committee. Our dedicated staff strives to gain an appreciation for each family's financial situation with the information provided. We are glad to answer any questions you may have regarding your aid award or the need-based aid application process at Centre.

If you feel that there is some aspect of your financial situation that merits a closer look on our part, simply write us a letter explaining your circumstances. We will review your file again and ask for additional documentation, if necessary.

The Result: Your Financial Aid Award

To determine your eligibility for need-based aid, cost of attendance is compared with the family's ability to pay, or estimated financial contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If the EFC is higher than Centre's cost of attendance, then there is no eligibility for need-based aid. If the EFC is lower than Centre's cost of attendance, then the EFC is subtracted from the cost of attendance to determine demonstrated need. The demonstrated need figure establishes the maximum amount of need-based aid a student is eligible to receive. Since every institution has a different cost, the demonstrated need for a student is different at every institution. Each institution works to meet as much of the demonstrated need as possible given its policies.

If there is eligibility for need-based aid, Centre will provide the student with a financial aid award which may include various kinds of aid to meet the student's demonstrated need. There are two main types of need-based aid:


  • gift aid, money that does not have to be repaid such as grants or scholarships, and
  • self-help, money the student is responsible for earning or repaying such as work-study and loans.

The aid award may include aid from institutional, state, and federal sources.

Students must re-apply every year for need-based aid, and financial need is reassessed annually based on the family's financial situation. Most students who receive aid during their first year at Centre qualify for assistance in subsequent years.