Types of Financial Aid

Watercolor drawing of the top of the Mount Holyoke College fieldgate

There are two types of aid available:

  • Need-based aid is a calculation of financial eligibility determined by the Student Financial Services Office.
  • Merit-based aid is awarded to first-year students at the point of admission in the form of scholarships or awards.

Each student’s financial situation is different, which means that individual financial aid situations will be different.

Need-based aid

For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, financial aid packages typically contain a combination of three types of need-based assistance: grants, loans and work-study.


Grant aid does not need to be repaid and may be funded by the following sources:

  1. Mount Holyoke College
  2. Federal Government*
  3. State Government*

* Federal and state aid is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. Visit the Student Financial Services website for more information about need-based grants.


Most financial aid packages include federal, state or Mount Holyoke College student loans. The total student loan debt over four years ranges from about $20,000 to $31,500. Recent Mount Holyoke seniors have graduated with $25,000 debt on average. There are annual limits to federal loan sizes per academic year.

If you intend to take a student loan you will need to complete entrance counseling prior to borrowing a loan for the first time and exit counseling when you leave the College.


Work-Study provides aid to students for both on-campus and off-campus (community service) jobs. Students who work in College work-study positions while enrolled are paid for their work and can use their earnings for some of their college expenses. Visit the Student Financial Services Student Employment page for more information about work-study.

Merit-based aid

Merit-based aid comes in several forms and does not need to be repaid.

Mount Holyoke scholarships and awards

We award non-need based scholarships and awards to applicants who have an outstanding record of scholarship and cocurricular achievement in high school and who demonstrate noteworthy leadership skills. These are awarded at the time of admission. No extra application is required.

The following merit-based awards are specifically reserved for first-year students:

Visit the Student Financial Services page for more information about Mount Holyoke scholarship and awards.

The Frances Perkins Scholarship

All students admitted to the Frances Perkins Program receive this scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition. These students are also eligible for other need-based financial aid to defray other costs of attendance.

Outside Scholarships

We encourage you to apply for outside scholarships to reduce costs, including tuition benefits that may be available to parents and families through an employer. Visit the Student Financial Services page for more information and resources for outside scholarships.