Applying for financial aid can be a daunting task whether you are a first-time parent of a college bound student or have already completed this process in the past. Here's a quick overview of some key forms and suggested resources to help get you started on the basics of financing of a college education.
Frequently Used Forms in the Financial Aid Process:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA, filed directly with the federal government, is the standard route to financial aid awards. The process begins in the fall of senior year when both parent and student must request a ‘pin number’ which will allow access to the FAFSA website as frequently as desired.
Upon completion of the FAFSA, you will be assigned an ‘EFC’ or Expected Family Contribution. This figure is based on earnings and other sources of income. It is this amount that will help colleges decide how much aid they should offer the student and how much a family should contribute. You will have the option of entering college codes for the schools your student is interested in applying to on the FAFSA, granting the federal government permission for certain colleges to access your financial data. Every family should file this important form, even if they believe they will not qualify for aid since this information may be used for scholarship awards as well.
A very important feature of the FAFSA is the fact that it is FREE (the first ‘F’ is FAFSA). There are imposters online who charge for this service! Follow this link to ensure you are using the appropriate form!
- CSS Profile
The CSS Profile is a financial form required by some colleges and universities. This form is filed in addition to the FAFSA and there is a fee to submit it. The form is accessed through the College Board website and filed online. A list of colleges requiring the Profile is also available at this site.
- Institutional Application
Some colleges provide an application for financial aid that must be completed to be considered for aid. Check on each college's Admissions Requirements page and/or their Financial Aid page to see if any additional forms are required for the schools your student is applying to. Contact the financial aid office at each individual school if you have questions about the process for applying for aid.
Other Resources to Help with the Financial Aid Process:
The goal of these organizations is to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education. They offer educational programs and information about tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and as well as other expert guidance.
An online resource for helping students find scholarships to apply for.
Net Price Calculators
Net price calculators are available on a college’s or university’s website and allow prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students like them paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account.