Undergraduate Financial Aid

Financial Need & Eligibility

The needs analysis formula is the starting point for determining financial aid eligibility.

Financing a Brown education is most successful through a partnership that draws on the resources of the student, the family, federal/state governments and the University. At Brown, we believe the primary responsibility to pay for college, to the extent possible, lies with the family. Eligibility for financial aid from the University is based on demonstrated financial need. Brown, like all members of the Ivy League, does not offer aid based on academic achievement, athletic ability or any other form of merit or talent.

Brown meets the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants. Based on eligibility, a financial aid award may consist of any combination of state grant, federal grant and work-study/campus employment. The remaining demonstrated need is met with University Scholarship that do not have to be repaid. Brown does not package loans in its aid awards, but families may choose to pursue loans to cover their unique expenses. Students must reapply for financial aid each year.

The Needs Analysis Formula

We start by setting a budget, or Cost of Attendance, for the academic year. Next, we calculate the family's share of college costs, or EFC. Subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance, we are able to determine the student's Financial Need. Brown's financial aid award will be equal to the student’s Financial Need.

Each component of the formula is made up of several factors:

Cost of Attendance

Composed of:

  • Tuition & Fees
  • Room & Board
  • Books & Supplies
  • Misc. Expenses
  • Travel
Cost of Attendance

Expected Family Contribution ( EFC )

Composed of:

  • Parent Contribution
  • Student Contribution from Assets
  • Student Contribution from Summer Earnings
More about EFC


Financial Need

Met with:

  • State and/or Federal Grants
  • Work-Study
  • University Scholarship
Types of Aid

Once our office determines the level of financial need, we create a financial aid package, with multiple funding sources, in this order:

Determining Eligibility

Brown awards and distributes aid based on demonstrated financial need only. To determine need, we first measure the financial strength of the family. We collect financial information from the CSS Profile for all applicants and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for U.S. citizen applicants. We then verify the accuracy of this information with income tax returns. We consider many factors including marital status of parents, number of dependents, number of children in the household pursuing an undergraduate education, unusual medical expenses, and federal, state and local taxes, to name a few. Each analysis is reviewed individually, and in many cases modified, according to institutional policy.

The Financial Aid Award

All applicants admitted to Brown receive a financial aid award letter. This letter provides the family with the with an:

  • Estimate of direct and indirect costs for the academic year (except health insurance)
  • Estimate of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Overview of all financial aid awarded

The cumulative amount of the financial aid awarded equals the student’s demonstrated financial need, or the education costs that exceed a family's expected contribution. This financial aid award often includes more than one type of financial aid. The most common types are student employment, federal and state grants, and University Scholarship.

Example of Need Calculation and Financial Aid Award

The following example demonstrates the components of a Brown financial aid package and is not a guarantee for a financial aid package.

Cost of Attendance $82,670
- Student Contribution from Summer Earnings   $2,900 
- Student Contribution from Assets $500 
- Parent Contribution $24,000 
= Financial Need $55,270

Using the example financial need above, an example of an award follows:

    Financial Aid Package**
University Scholarship $52,320
Work-Study/Campus Employment $2,950
Total Financial Aid $55,270

Please note, the examples above are based on the current standard Student Contribution from Summer Earnings for returning students, which is $2,900. For the 2021-22 academic year, the estimated Student Contribution from Summer Earnings for first year students is $2,700.  

Additional Resources