What You Must Know About The FAFSA Application And Other Essential Steps In Applying For Student Financial Aid


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The FAFSA and CSS PROFILE are what you need to apply for 99% of all student financial aid. And just so you understand what these forms are designed to accomplish, we'll be taking a moment to review the concepts of Estimated Family Contribution, Cost of Attendance, and Financial Need

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the U.S. Department of Education's application, and a form that every college in the country requires. It puts you in contention for federal student aid, which includes Pell Grants, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG's), College Work Study, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, and Federal Direct Loans. All of this aid is given directly to the student.

The FAFSA takes about 4 weeks to process if filed early - between January 2nd and January 15th - but about 6 weeks if filed during peak season - between January 15 to April 15. There is no fee to file the FAFSA.

Your FAFSA application is mailed to a central processor, usually the American College Testing Program (ACT) in Iowa City, IA, or the College Scholarship Service (CSS) in Princeton, NJ. After filing, and assuming it doesn't get lost in the mail, you will receive a Federal Student Aid Report (SAR). This is a summary of the information on your FAFSA. In the upper right hand corner, you will see the term EFC, followed by some numbers. For example, EFC: 07528. This indicates an Estimated Family Contribution of $7,528 for a typical 9 month academic year.


Quick Review On How Financial Aid Is Rewarded:

Cost of Attendance

- Expected Family Contribution

= Financial Need

Cost of Attendance is the amount it will cost to attend a specific college for one year. Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money a student and his family is expected to pay towards the Cost of Attendance. And Financial Need is the amount a student is eligible to receive in financial aid.



In addition to the FAFSA, some private colleges require a CSS PROFILE. This will cost you money for each college listed, and is also filed with either CSS or ACT. If any of the colleges you're applying to also require a PROFILE, you should try to submit it around the same time as your FAFSA so you can have all the results at the same time.

The PROFILE will ask more detailed information than the FAFSA, as the two forms use different types of need analysis to determine an EFC. For example, the FAFSA, which uses something called Federal Methodology, does not factor in your home's equity in its calculations. The PROFILE, which uses Institutional Methodology, does ask about the value of your home.

Colleges that require the PROFILE therefore, can be expected to add about 5.6% of your home equity to the EFC calculated by your FAFSA. This amount will vary depending on the asset protection allowance your are given, which increases as the age of the older parent increases.

If any of your college choices require the PROFILE, be sure to submit it by the earliest deadline given. Two to four weeks after you do so, you will receive an Acknowledgement Report that will contain your fafsa EFC, and a second EFC calculated from the additional data elements you provided. This second calculation is called the Institutional Methodology, and colleges that require the PROFILE use this methodology when they award their own funds in conjunction with federal aid.

As a general rule, public colleges will only require the FAFSA. Many private colleges, with their higher sticker prices, will also usually require a PROFILE application. In addition, self-employed parents will most likely need to complete a Business/Farm Supplement, and divorced or separated parents will be required to file a Divorced/Separated Parent's Statement (which will be included in your PROFILE packet).

After you have submitted your financial aid forms - the FAFSA, the PROFILE, or both - each of the colleges that have accepted you will send you a letter containing your financial aid award. Most award letters will show you the schools total Cost of Attendance for the upcoming year, how much you and your family are expected to contribute (your EFC), and the amount and types of aid you have been awarded.

Most students who are eligible for aid receive funds from a combination of sources and programs, including grants, scholarships, tuition discounts, student loans, and college work study. For first-year students, financial aid award letters are sent with, or soon after, the letter of admission.

That, in a nutshell, is the process of applying for college financial aid. And because it can be a long and tedious process, many just want the process over with as fast as possible, and blindly go about completing their FAFSA and PROFILE applications.

Don't be one of them.

Blindly filling out your FAFSA and PROFILE aid applications can cost you thousands of dollars per year in lost financial aid! Before you submit your forms, take the necessary time to become an educated and informed financial aid consumer.

First off, there are many legal strategies you can apply to substantially increase the amount of financial aid you are qualified to receive.

Secondly, by simply filling out your FAFSA and PROFILE applications correctly, the first time, you substantially enhance the possibility of getting the most favorable aid package possible. A recent study indicated that more than 80% of the FAFSA and PROFILE forms submitted, contained some kind of error or mistake. And mistakes are one of the top reasons for getting less financial aid or even flat-out denial!

To give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining maximum funding for college, a recommended resource is "The No B.S. Guide To Getting Maximum College Financial Aid"

Details can be found at: www.college-financial-aid-secrets.com



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