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Score at the Top Blog

Financial Aid - What you need to know!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Turn the radio down. Power off the TV news. We’ve got some real financial news that’s important to your high school senior’s (and your) pockets: financial aid for college.

Plan now. The Department of Education in Washington loans money to every student who needs it. But to qualify, you must complete the FAFSA and possibly the CSS/Profile.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid www.fafsa.gov It’s an application for financial aid also used to apply for aid from other sources like the state. All colleges require the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid. Some may also require the CSS/Profile or their own form as well; you’ll need to check financial-aid requirements with individual colleges.

The CSS/Financial Aid Profile, CSS/Profile, or College Scholarship Service Profile is available from the College Board and is much more detailed than the FAFSA profileonline.collegeboard.com

The FAFSA determines Federal funding and uses a formula to calculate what it and others call the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Note that the FAFSA does not take into account home equity, medical expenses, or change in employment.

The CSS/Profile helps determine money that will come from the college’s own resources in many cases. A school’s EFC calculation will vary somewhat by institution, and may take into account home equity, deductions for medical expenses, and provisions for special circumstances. In addition, some colleges require their own form to determine financial-aid eligibility.

No matter what your household income may be, you should consider filling out the required forms in a timely manner. The CSS/Profile has varying deadlines depending on the school and becomes available in the fall. If you are applying EA or ED, the CSS/Profile may be due quite early. The FAFSA becomes available on January 1 and should be submitted as soon as data is ready.

Please note there is now a FAFSA requirement for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org

The FAFSA application can be found at: www.fafsa.ed.gov. Operators will be standing by at FAFSA who are EXTREMELY helpful in answering your questions. Call them rather than remain in the dark concerning the online application. Phone numbers are 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 319-337-5665; online chats are also available with a click!

Fill out the required forms each year if you desire aid for college. And always check your college’s website for further financially-related forms or information. You never know what a college may require in addition to the above forms.