- Largest source of grant aid
- Contact Financial Aid Office of school for requirements
- Merit and need-based aid
- Applications and deadlines
STEPS TO FEDERAL STUDENT AID
- Get free information and help from the Financial Aid Office at the college you plan to attend, or the U.S. Department of Education (or 1-800-FED-AID). Free help is available any time during the application process. If an organization offers to help you through the process, and charges you a fee, it is a scam!
- Get a Federal Student Aid ID, a personal identification number. An ID lets you apply, ‘sign’ your FAFSA, make corrections to your application information and more — so keep it safe. Go here to get your ID. Both a parent and student need an ID.
- Collect the documents needed to apply, including income tax returns and W-2 forms (and other records of income). A full list of what you will need is at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- Most colleges require that you file the FAFSA by January 1-February 1 for Regular Decision applicants. Apply as soon as possible after October 1 to meet school and state aid deadlines. Apply online at FAFSA on the web (the fastest and easiest way) by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you don’t already have your ID, you can get it when you complete the online FAFSA.
- The U.S. Department of Education will you send you your Student Aid Report (SAR) — which is the result of your FAFSA. Review your SAR and, if necessary, make changes or corrections and submit your SAR for reprocessing. Your complete, correct SAR will contain your expected family contribution (EFC) — the number used to determine your federal student aid eligibility. IMPORTANT: Do not assume that the EFC number is the amount you will have to pay for college. It is simply a guideline for schools to assess how much need you have.
- The college that you plan to attend may request additional information from you. Be sure to respond to any deadlines, or you might not receive federal student aid.
- The colleges will tell you how much aid you can get at a particular school. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions about that aid being offered. Review award letters from schools to compare amounts and types of aid being offered. Decide which school to attend based on a combination of (a) how well the college suits your needs and (b) its affordability after all aid is taken into account.
One More Step: The CSS PROFILE
Many private colleges require the College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE form in addition to the FAFSA. You may register for the PROFILE online. Consult this site to determine which private colleges require submission of the profile. Some schools require the PROFILE to be submitted by November 1 of senior year.