Financial Aid

Financial aid policies vary by institution.  Notre Dame is one of less than 60 schools in the nation that is committed to meeting the full demonstrated need of our undergraduate students for all four years. For more information on the University of Notre Dame's financial aid policies, you can visit the Office of Financial Aid website.

In addition to government loans, many institutions include private loans in their financial aid packages, or they may not meet need.  The scenarios are intended to illustrate financial aid offers at various types of institutions and are preceded by the definitions of some related concepts.

  • Demonstrated need – This is the cost of attending minus your Family Share (EFC).
  • Need-blind admission – Schools that practice need-blind admission admit students on the basis of their academic and personal records of achievement without consideration of a student’s ability to pay when making the admission decision.
  • Financial aid – Money given or loaned to help pay for college. Financial aid can come in the form of gift (scholarships and grants) and self-help (loan and work). At Notre Dame, 68 percent of undergraduates who apply received some type of aid.
  • Need-based financial aid – Money given to students whose families need assistance with the full cost of paying for college. Notre Dame offers need-based scholarships, loans, and work to meet your need. Forty-eight percent of this year’s first-year students received an average need-based scholarship of $42,600 (excluding loan and work).
  • Merit-based financial aid – Money offered to students who show exceptional accomplishment, leadership, commitment to service, and intellectual ability. Notre Dame offers a limited number of merit scholarships to first-time incoming Notre Dame students.
  • Cost of attendance – Our estimate of each year’s total cost of college includes tuition and fees, room and meals, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. 
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or Family Share –The total amount students and their families are expected to pay toward college costs from their income and assets for one academic year. This amount is determined on an individual basis using information you report on the financial aid applications. The information includes the size of your family, number attending college, income and assets, and other personal circumstances.
  • Net Price – The amount of money that the family pays for one year of college. This is calculated as the price of attendance minus grants and scholarships from all sources.

Types of Aid: 

  • Scholarships or Grants: This is "gift" money that does not have to be repaid.  It may come directly from the institution, or it may come from another organization (e.g., civic organization, parent's employer, etc.).
  • Student Work-Study: This is money that the student can earn by working, typically at an on-campus job.
  • Government Student Loans: These are the Federal Direct Loans.  Students qualify for these loans by submitting the FAFSA form.  If a student demonstrates need, he or she may be eligible for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan.  This type of loan has no interest charged while the student is enrolled at least half-time, and during the grace period and deferment periods.  If the student is unable to demonstrate need, he or she will be eligible for an Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, where interest is charged during all periods (while enrolled in school, during the grace period, and during deferment periods), however the student can have payments deferred until after graduation.  For more information on Student Loans, please visit
  • Parent Loans: These are unsubsidized loans that the parents of dependent undergraduate students can borrow to help meet the cost of the Expected Family Contribution and/or any "un-met need."  The repayment of these loans are the responsibility of the parent, not the student. For more information on Parent Loans, please visit
  • Private Loans: These are unsubsidized loans that can be given to either the parent or the student and are not administered or sponsored by the federal government and typically require the borrower's credit worthiness and/or a co-signature. For more information on private loans, check in with your private lending institution.

For the following examples, we will describe two institutions:

  • Institution M - meets full demonstrated need
  • Institution N - does not meet demonstrated need

Let's look at their cost of attendance (COA):

  Institution M Institution N
Tuition & Fees $45,000 $35,000
Room & Meals $12,000 $11,000
Books $1,000 $1,000
Transportation $500 $500
Personal $1,000 $1,000
Total COA $59,500 $48,500

For our examples, we will use the Jones family. They have 2 children, and their eldest will be attending college next year.  The Jones family has an Adjusted Gross Income of $110,000, and approximately $100,000 saved in non-retirement assets. They have submitted the FAFSA, and their Expected Family Contribution is $25,000.  

  Institution M Institution N
COA $59,500 $48,500
EFC $25,000 $25,000
Need $34,500 $23,500

Institution M meets the Jones' family's full need.  Institution N does not meet full need, so the financial aid may not meet their need. The sample financial aid packages for each school attempt to illustrate the differences.

  Institution M Institution N
Work Study $  2,500 $  2,500
Federal Direct Subsidized Loan $  3,500 $  3,500
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan              - $  2,000
Scholarship/Grants $ 28,500 $ 10,000
Total Financial Aid Package $34,500 $18,000

In this example, Institution N's package has $5,500 in unmet need.  In addition, Institution N includes $2,000 more loans than Institution M did.  

How does a college savings plan help this family?  

A college savings plan can help pay the Expected Family Contribution portion of the amount due. Those who have planned and saved have more options for their children.

Does having a college savings account reduce one's ability to receive financial aid? 

The majority of families do not have a calculated contribution from assets. Assets are protected to recognize that families have other expenses. 

Use the FAFSA4Caster to estimate your family's contribution.