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Financial Aid


How do I apply/qualify for Carthage institutional scholarships and grants?

You must be admitted as a full-time undergraduate student seeking your first bachelor’s degree. You will then be considered for “merit” funding, which is based on academic achievement.

In addition, you should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). Once you have been admitted and the Office of Student Financial Planning has received your FAFSA information from the government, your eligibility for need-based Carthage (institutional) funding will also be determined.

How do I apply for federal and state financial aid?

In order to apply for federal and state financial aid, you must file a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The first step is for you and a parent to each get a FSA ID from the government. There is a link available for you at the FAFSA website: The FSA ID acts as your electronic signature for the FAFSA. The next step is to complete the FAFSA form. The online version is the format the government prefers and processes most quickly. A printable worksheet (English or Spanish) is available at that site, if you’d like to write down your answers before submitting them online. If you prefer to mail a paper version, a printable PDF version (in English and Spanish) is available at Be sure to include Carthage’s Federal school code — 003839 — so that the government can send your FAFSA information to Carthage. The Office of Student Financial Planning will then determine your eligibility for federal and state aid and will notify you if additional documents are needed for the awarding process.

When should I do the FAFSA?

Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible to maximize your financial aid eligibility for the following fall semester. The 2017-2018 FAFSA is available starting on Oct. 1, 2016.  Some funds are limited and eligibility may be based upon the date the student submitted the FAFSA.

Do I have to file a FAFSA every year?

In order to qualify for federal and for some kinds of Carthage institutional financial aid, a student must file the FAFSA once every academic year. Renewal FAFSA applications can be completed online by using the FSA ID assigned to you (and your parent’s FSA ID, if their information is required on the FAFSA).

What is a FSA ID and how do I get one?

An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on Department of Education websites such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone — not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft.

If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child’s FAFSA electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications, but each student must have his or her own FSA ID. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique email address.

In order to request an FSA ID, you will need to log on to this website: The FSA ID process consists of three main steps:

1. Enter your log-in information. Provide your email address, a unique username, and password, and verify that you are at least 13 years old.

2. Enter your personal information. Provide your Social Security number, name, and date of birth. Include your mailing address, email address, telephone number, and language preference. For security purposes, provide answers to five challenge questions.

3. Submit your FSA ID information. Agree to the terms and conditions. Verify your email address. (This is optional, but helpful. By verifying your email address, you can use your email address as your username when logging into certain Department of Education websites. This verification also allows you to retrieve your username or reset your password without answering challenge questions.)

Do I need to file my taxes before I apply for financial aid?

No, you are not required to file taxes before submitting the FAFSA; you may complete the form using estimated tax information. However, it is important to be as accurate as possible. The likelihood of being selected for verification of your application information increases when estimated figures are used. If you are selected for verification, you will need to submit additional documents to the financial aid office so that your FAFSA information can be verified (confirmed or corrected).

Once your taxes are filed, you are expected to review your FAFSA information and make any necessary changes. Changes can be made online at or (if you submitted a paper FAFSA) on the paper Student Aid Report that the government will send you.

What is an EFC and how is it used to determine my eligibility?

The federal government considers the student/student’s family to be primarily responsible for the cost of the student’s education. When you submit a FAFSA, the Department of Education uses a formula to calculate how much you and your family are expected to be able to pay toward your education, based on the information you reported on the FAFSA. This amount is called an EFC, which stands for Expected Family Contribution. The EFC does not represent what you may actually need to contribute towards your education. It is, rather, a baseline amount which is compared to the actual cost of attendance. The remaining amount is called unmet financial need (Cost of Attendance – EFC = Financial Need). The Office of Student Financial Planning will award the maximum amount of government and institutional financial aid for which the student is eligible, in an effort to meet financial need. The remainder must be met by the student/student’s family.

What is “verification,” and why was I selected?

The Federal Processor randomly selects more than 30% of all FAFSA applications to be “verified.” If you are selected for verification, the Office of Student Financial Planning will ask you to provide copies of your prior year’s IRS tax return transcripts and the completed and signed Verification Worksheet for that academic year (available online here). Additional documents may also be needed. Once all of the necessary documents have been received, the OSFP electronically transmits the confirmed or corrected information to the government. When the government notifies the OSFP that it has processed the transmitted information, the verification process can be completed.

Note: If a student is selected for verification, it is important to respond to the request for verification documents as quickly as possible, to prevent delays in financial aid processing and to ensure optimum eligibility for limited aid sources.

My parents will not help me pay for school. Can I file as an “independent”?

The federal government considers a student to be independent if he or she meets one or more of these criteria:

  • Is 24 years of age or older.
  • Has already received his or her first bachelor’s degree and will be working toward a master’s or doctorate degree during the FAFSA-related academic year.
  • Is married (including those who are separated but not divorced).
  • Has children for whom he or she provides more than half of the economic support.
  • Has dependents other than a child or spouse, for whom he or she provides more than half of the economic support.
  • Is an orphan (both parents are deceased) or ward of the court, or was a ward of the court until the age of 18.
  • Is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
  • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

All other students are considered to be dependent, and the parents’ information and signature will be required on the FAFSA. If you believe you have a situation that should be considered individually, ask to speak with a counselor in the Office of Student Financial Planning.

My parents are divorced. Which parent’s information should be given on the FAFSA?

If your parents have divorced or separated, provide answers about the parent you lived with more during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, provide answers about the parent who provided more of your financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, their current spouse’s information will also need to be included, regardless of the amount of financial support that stepparent is providing towards the student’s education.

My parents or I make too much money. Is it worth my time to file a FAFSA?

The Carthage Office of Student Financial Planning always recommends that EVERY student file a FAFSA. Income is not the only factor in determining a student’s financial aid eligibility; other factors such as size of household, the number of people in college, etc. also play a significant role in that determination.

Every Carthage student who submits the FAFSA qualifies for at least one (or more) governmental student loan, provided he or she is enrolled at least half-time and meets the government’s standards of academic progress. Without the FAFSA, there is no possibility of governmental student loans, which have the best interest rates.

What should I do if changes occur after I file the FAFSA?

If divorce, death, loss of employment, or another major change occurs in the family situation, affecting the student’s/student’s family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education, contact the Carthage Office of Student Financial Planning to determine what options or alternatives may be available.

I will be attending as a part-time student. Do I qualify for financial aid?

The student’s EFC and enrollment status are reviewed to determine whether or not the student is eligible for government grants and loans. Some students will be eligible for government grant aid with half-time or less enrollment, but more aid is usually available at half-time or greater enrollment. A student must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for federal student loans.

I have received a private scholarship. Will this affect my financial aid?

The total amount of financial aid from all sources cannot exceed the cost of attendance established by the College. In most cases, a private scholarship will not affect the amount of your financial aid, though it may have a direct effect upon the type and amount of student loan eligibility. If you are awarded a private scholarship, submit the Private (Outside) Scholarship Notification Form (available online at to the Carthage Office of Student Financial Planning, attaching a copy of the scholarship award notification letter. The student’s financial aid awarding will then be reviewed and adjusted to include the anticipated scholarship amount, and to ensure that the student is not over-awarded.

Can I get a job on campus?

Nearly every facet of Carthage has students helping to run it in some capacity, either as Federal Work Study awardees or as campus employment students. Students who are not awarded FWS have the option (usually after Oct. 1) to visit offices and professors to apply for any campus employment positions that are open.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …