Filing for financial aid is a very important part of the going-to-college process—but we know how confusing it can be. Many families depend on financial aid to attend college, and this may be your first time hearing words like FAFSA, EFC, and CSS Profile.
Just because the financial aid system may be a new process for you doesn’t mean that it needs to be overwhelming or confusing. We have all the information you need to understand the system and maximize your financial aid. College costs expert Frank Palmasani is ready to help you get started.
Don’t assume that you won’t receive financial aid.
As a high school guidance counselor and a former director of college admissions, I’ve worked with a lot families. I sometimes hear questions about whether a family really needs to fill out the FAFSA because they assume they won’t even be eligible for any financial aid. The short answer is yes, every family should file for financial aid.
1.7 million students don’t file the FAFSA because they incorrectly believe they won’t qualify for aid.1
While colleges follow general standards for which families receive what kind of aid, you really don’t know what financial aid money your family is eligible for until you file for it and receive your award letter. You can use every kind of financial aid estimator there is, but the final decision on aid comes down to the college distributing it.
Colleges may sometimes even require you to complete the FAFSA in order to be considered for merit-based scholarships that don’t factor in a student’s financial need.
Don’t overlook or dismiss the FAFSA—you might miss out on valuable dollars to help pay for college.
1. “Reasons Why Students Do Not File the FAFSA.” Mark Kantrowitz, FinAid.org. January 2011.