Financial aid is money used for educational expenses that comes from sources other than the family and is meant to supplement the family's contribution to make college education affordable. The most important words of advice we can offer are apply for aid. You will not receive aid if you do not apply. Please do not eliminate a college immediately because of price. If you do not mind disclosing the information requested, you have nothing to lose except the time required for completing the forms. The purpose of these forms is to determine your family's eligibility for financial aid.
So what forms are needed and who completes the form(s)?
The most widely used "needs analysis" form is the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Any college to which a student applies for financial aid will require completion of the FAFSA. This form is used by colleges AND some scholarship programs to determine a student's eligibility for federal and state financial aid (this is the application required for TOPS). Many colleges will also determine distribution of their need-based financial aid on the information provided through the FAFSA. Again, a student cannot quality for federal aid unless he/she completes the FAFSA.
This form cannot be completed until after January 1st of the student's senior year of college because it requires income information for the calendar year preceding a student entering college. So for 2007-2008 graduates, the FAFSA cannot be completed until after January 1, 2008 and will require income information (and income tax information) from the year 2007. Both the student and his/her parent(s) will provide income information for completion of the FAFSA. The official (and free) website for information or to file a FAFSA, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
A second needs analysis form often required by more selective colleges and universities is the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile asks for much of the same information that the FAFSA requires but also requires additional information from the student and his/her parents. It is the student's responsibility to find out if a college requires completion of the Profile to apply for financial aid. If so, The Profile must be completed in addition to the FAFSA. Again, both the student and his/her parent(s) will provide income information for completion of the CSS Profile.
For more information about the Profile, to see if your college or university requires the form, and to register for the Profile, check their website: https://profileonline.collegeboard.com. Students may register for the CSS Profile early in fall of their senior year. There is a fee (per college) to register.
Depending upon the college or university, it is possible that the institution will have their own needs analysis form. This may be the third form required for application for financial aid. Again, check with the colleges and universities to which you will apply to see what forms are required.
Determine what forms are to be completed and when they are due as it is imperative to meet the financial aid application deadline established by the college or university.
Working with this information, and taking into account such factors as family size, number of family members in college, and parents' ages, the federal processing agency estimates the amount that parents
Copies of this computerized sheet are sent to you and to each of the colleges to which you list on your