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Institutional Methodology (IM)

Ensure that financial aid is awarded fairly

Institutions award over 24 billion dollars of their own funds each year, allowing thousands of qualified students to attend the college of their choice. How can you be sure your funds are targeted to the most deserving students?

Institutional Methodology (IM) is the College Board's need-analysis system. Developed by financial aid practitioners and economists, IM provides a comprehensive evaluation of a family's ability to pay for the costs of higher education. Over 350 institutions and scholarship programs use IM in conjunction with the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE to target their need-based funds equitably to the most deserving students.

IM provides:

  • An economically sound approach to determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that is based on current financial indicators and up-to-date consumer research and tax policy.
  • A realistic assessment of both parent and student income. Paper losses and income adjustments—perfectly legal in the federal tax system—are not considered in the IM definition of income. Although Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is important, it is not the sole determinant of genuine income strength.
  • A comprehensive evaluation of all family assets—including investments, real estate and equity in the home, farm, and business.

IM provides you with a way to effectively measure family resources (.pdf/156K requires Adobe Reader (latest version recommended).) and target your private funds to those students with true demonstrated need. And the IM is governed by financial aid practitioners, researchers, and economists who meet regularly to adjust the formula as needed.

By using IM, you can be assured that your financial aid awards are fair, valid, and defensible to families.

To learn more about the IM formula, contact us directly at (800) 927-4302 or send an email to

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