Financial Aid: FAFSA and PROFILE
In order to obtain any type of financial aid, students and families must complete the FAFSA.
There are two forms — one absolutely necessary — and the other optional — that can assist you in obtaining financial aid to help pay some of your college costs.
FAFSA — Free Application for Federal Student Aid — official application that needs to be completed in order to apply for virtually all types of financial aid (federal, state, or institutional) for higher education. This form is distributed and processed by the United States Department of Education and should be completed as soon in possible in January of your senior year (and then in subsequent years) — once you have basic income and tax-related information for your family. You must complete a FAFSA every year — as close to January (once taxes are done) as possible. Go to the FAFSA.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE’ — the financial aid application service of the College Board. More than 600 colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for nonfederal student aid funds. Fee-based, but some waivers are available. Make sure you complete the FAFSA first, since it is the tool used for determining federal financial aid. Go to the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Next up? A quick overview of the Federal Work-Study program.
Need help with any of the terms described on this page? If so, find the answers in our High School College-Bound and College Planning Glossary.
Return to the main page of the College Planning Tutorial.
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