On October 1st each year, both FAFSA (Federal) and CSS Profile (Institutional) financial aid applications became available for students and parents to submit to colleges. Here are some tips that will help you save time and money:
High School Juniors:
- Get a sneak peek at how much need-based financial aid you may qualify for. Go to this website and you will get an estimate of your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) from both the FAFSA and CSS profiles. Use your student's PSAT login credentials to save your work.
High School Seniors:
- Go to the websites of the colleges to which you want to apply, and see if they require the CSS profile in addition to the FAFSA in order to be considered for aid.
- Complete the Net Price Calculators on each of these colleges websites to get an estimate of the package they will offer your student if they are accepted.
- If the net price calculator value seems reasonable for your finances, then submit the FAFSA (and CSS profile if requred) to these colleges on or before the date your student sends in their application. This may allow you to get a financial aid package from the school at the time of the acceptance letter.
- For FAFSA, the student AND the parent EACH need an FSA ID (login) to be able to sign the application. Create both of these IDs a few days before filling out the FAFSA at this website: fsaid.ed.gov.
- Fill out the FAFSA here: fafsa.ed.gov
- Fill out the CSS Profile here: cssprofile.org. Use your student's PSAT, SAT or AP login information.
- Use the IRS data retrieval tool to automatically fill in data from your taxes into the FAFSA application to save time and possible mistakes.
- If your tax return for the coming year will look very different from last year's (big promotion, job loss, divorce, etc.), call each school and tell them about the change so they can adjust your aid package.
- Review your package from each school carefully. Student and parent loans are not "aid". They need to be paid back with interest. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid.
- Don't hesitate to call a school to negotiate the package if your student wants to go there, but the package doesn't make it financially possible to do so.
Questions or comments? Contact me! Eric