Admission - Financial Aid

Bowdoin College's financial aid policy is designed to supplement family resources so that as many students as possible can attend the College. Scholarships, grants, and student employment are the principal sources of aid for Bowdoin students who need help in meeting educational expenses.

Due to Bowdoin’s belief that students who receive financial aid as grants should also be responsible for a portion of their expenses, student employment will generally be part of the financial aid award. While loans will be available to supplement other resources, they will not be included in a typical financial aid package. Annual submission of the required application forms guarantees consideration for all forms of financial aid available to Bowdoin students, including grants, jobs, and loans.

Need-Based Aid

Bowdoin's policy is to meet a student's full financial need, as calculated by the College using institutional need-based financial aid policies, for each year in which he or she qualifies for aid. Financial need is the difference between Bowdoin's costs and the family's share. The College derives the family share from parental income and assets, student assets, student earnings, and other resources such as gifts or non-College scholarships, available to supplement educational costs.

Need-Blind Admission

Bowdoin practices need-blind admission. Need-blind means that the ability to pay the College's tuition and fees is not part of the decision to admit a student. The College seeks highly motivated students who are interested in an undergraduate experience that will allow them to explore their academic interests and contribute to a vibrant residential community. Those students come from a wide variety of family backgrounds and economic circumstances, and Bowdoin believes in creating opportunity for all students regardless of family income. 

Available resources limit our ability to be need-blind for all admission categories. For international, wait-list, and transfer students Bowdoin may be "need aware" during the admission process, and a family's finances may be a factor in the final admission decision. If admitted, students from these groups will have their full need met based on standard policies assuming the student's financial aid file is complete by published deadlines. 

Bowdoin's Financial Aid Resources

Over 65 percent of Bowdoin's grant budget comes from endowed funds given by alumni and friends of the College. In 2016-2017, from funds it administers, Bowdoin distributed $39.8 million in need-based grants, loans, and earnings. Grants from all sources exceeded $36.7 million in 2016-2017, with just under 44.5 percent of the student body receiving need-based assistance. In the Class of 2021, just under 52 percent of the entering class received need-based grants. The average Bowdoin College award for incoming students was $46,759 (including Bowdoin grant, SEOG, Pell, and campus job).

Information on the availability of financial aid is accessible through the College's Student Aid Office. The Office of Development can answer any questions regarding endowed funds and the establishment of such funds.

Eligibility for Aid

To be eligible for grant aid at Bowdoin College, a student must:

1. Be a degree candidate who is enrolled or is accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis; and

2. Demonstrate financial need, as determined by the College through our institutional policies and procedures.

In addition, to qualify for any of the programs subsidized by the federal government, a student must be a citizen or an eligible non-citizen, and apply for federal aid using the FAFSA.

A student is normally eligible for Bowdoin aid for a maximum of eight semesters of study. The College's Financial Aid Committee may award a ninth semester of aid if circumstances warrant it.

Determination of Need

Bowdoin determines a student's financial aid award from information submitted on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, federal FAFSA, and federal income tax returns and/or other requested documents (see Financial Aid Instructions).

Parents or legal guardians are responsible for the student's educational expenses, according to their financial ability to contribute. Divorce or separation of a student’s parents does not absolve either parent from this obligation.

Bowdoin’s need-based financial aid formula considers a student’s assets when evaluating need for institutional grant resources. The formula also takes into consideration the number of dependents in the family household, as well as the number of dependents enrolled in undergraduate degree programs.

Students are also expected to contribute to the cost of education by earning income during the summer and over the course of the academic year. This expected student contribution will vary depending upon current policies.

The sum of these resources when subtracted from Bowdoin's cost determines the student's need and Bowdoin's financial aid award.

Types of Aid Awards

First-Year Student Awards

Over 260 entering students receive financial aid awards each year to help them meet their expenses. Recently these awards have ranged from $3,500 to over $66,000. Normally, financial aid recipients receive an award with their letter of Admission to the College. Awards become final after trustees approve the academic year costs and students complete all required documents.

Upperclass Awards

All continuing students applying for aid must submit all required application material by the published deadlines each year. Grant awards change each year as a function of changes in costs, family income, and net worth including home and business equity, family size, and number of children attending undergraduate college on a full-time basis. For a more complete description of Bowdoin's financial aid program, visit the Student Aid website.

Bowdoin National Merit Scholars

Bowdoin National Merit Scholars who demonstrate financial need each year at Bowdoin receive a renewable $2,000 award. Remaining financial need is met with grant, a modest level of employment, and no student loan. Recipients of these awards who do not demonstrate financial need at Bowdoin receive a $1,000 recognition award, renewable each year.

National Achievement Finalists who enroll will receive the same grants and loan-free packages offered to National Merit Scholars.

Student Loans

While loans are no longer part of a standard financial aid offer, most students may borrow to supplement other resources and defray the family’s share of educational costs. Perkins Loan, Direct Loan, or Bowdoin Student Loan monies are typically available. Bowdoin helps determine which student loan program will best meet a student's needs.

Student Employment

Bowdoin’s standard financial aid packages include an expectation that the student will work during the summer and academic year. The student may choose to work or not; this decision has no effect on the grant offer.

Bowdoin's student employment program offers a wide variety of opportunities to undergraduates, including direct employment at Bowdoin and at outside agencies represented on the campus or located in the community. Employment opportunities are open to all students who are interested and able to work. For students choosing to have the Student Employment Office assign them a campus job, the First-Year Job Placement Program (FYJPP) assigns students to positions prior to their arrival in the fall. There are over 2,500 campus jobs available in College departments and offices. The annual student payroll currently stands at more than $1,900,000.

To learn more about student employment, visit the website for the Bowdoin Student Employment Office.

International Students

Bowdoin has a limited number of financial aid awards dedicated to international students. The student must file the CSS PROFILE application for award consideration; the link is available on the Student Aid website. Non-US citizens who do not apply at the time of admission should not expect financial aid during any of their years at Bowdoin.

Federal Financial Aid Programs Available at Bowdoin

The College participates in the Federal Work-Study Program, the Federal Supplementary Educational Opportunity Grants Program, and the Federal Pell Grant Program, along with the Federal Perkins and Federal Direct Loan programs previously mentioned. The College also works closely with several states that can provide aid resources to students to help meet educational expenses.

Veterans Benefits

The degree programs of Bowdoin College meet the standards set by the Maine State Approving Agency for Veterans Education Programs for persons eligible for benefits (G.I. Bill) from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Students who request veterans' educational assistance are required to have all previous postsecondary experience evaluated for possible transfer credit in order to be eligible for benefits. Bowdoin participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. For more information, contact the Student Aid Office.

Graduate Scholarships

Bowdoin is able to offer a number of scholarships for postgraduate study at other institutions. Grants of various amounts are available to Bowdoin graduates who continue their studies in the liberal arts and sciences and in certain professional schools. Bowdoin provides more than $400,000 in graduate scholarship assistance to over eighty students annually. Further information about these scholarships is available online (http://bowdoin.edu/studentaid/after-bowdoin/) or by contacting the Student Aid Office at sao@bowdoin.edu.

Aid Application and Deadlines

Consideration for financial aid is contingent upon receipt of an on-time application each year. All candidates for aid who are United States or Canadian citizens must submit the College Scholarship Service PROFILE form by the date specified. US citizens must also file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

International candidates must file only the CSS PROFILE, concurrently with their application for admission.

Whether or not a student receives financial aid from Bowdoin, long-term, low-interest loans under the Federal Direct Loan program are available to US citizens.

When students apply for financial aid at Bowdoin, they agree to provide a complete, signed copy of their federal income tax return, plus any other documentation that may be required. Once the financial aid application is complete, the Student Aid Office will review a candidate’s request for assistance.

Application Deadlines

For financial aid consideration, applicants must submit their complete application for admission and all required aid application forms by the appropriate deadlines. Additional information about the admission and financial aid process at Bowdoin is available on the Admissions and Financial Aid websites. Deadlines for financial aid forms as are follows:

Applicants with US Citizenship:

Early Decision I:

November 15: CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and most recent federal tax returns, including business tax returns (i.e., Schedule C, E, F, Form 1065, Form 1120 and Form 1120S), submitted directly to the College Board's IDOC service.

Early Decision II:

January 1: CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and most recent federal tax returns, including business tax returns (i.e., Schedules C, E, F, Form 1065, Form 1120, and Form 1120S), submitted directly to the College Board's IDOC service.

Regular Admission:

February 1: CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and most recent federal tax returns, including business tax returns (i.e. Schedules C, E, F, Form 1065, Form 1120, and Form 1120S), submitted through the College Board's IDOC service.

International Applicants:

Non-US citizens must submit the CSS PROFILE form by November 15 for Early Decision I applicants, January 1 for Early Decision II applicants, and February 1 for all other applicants.

Transfer Students:

March 1: CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and most recent federal tax returns submitted through the College Board's IDOC service.

Returning Students:

February 15: CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and most recent federal tax returns submitted through the College Scholarship Service’s IDOC service.

Further information about application procedures, eligibility, need calculation and awards, plus descriptions of individual federal, state, and College programs is available by visiting the Student Aid website: bowdoin.edu/studentaid. Inquiries regarding Bowdoin's student aid programs may be addressed to Director of Student Aid, Bowdoin College, 5300 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011-8444; Tel. 207-725-3146; Fax: 207-725-3864.