In order to receive financial aid for college, students must submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. While all public and private colleges use the FAFSA, about 400 private colleges also require the CSS Profile. After you complete these online reports, the FAFSA and CSS Profile will send Student Aid Reports (SARs) to each of your colleges. You can start this process as early as October 1st and the sooner the better. Colleges won't give you a financial aid awards letter until they have received the FAFSA and/or the Profile. They need this financial information before they make recommendations about what the parents and students could afford to pay for college.
You don't need a CPA to complete these forms, but they can be tricky. Here are some tips to make it easier for you.
This application is online and everyone completes the same form. Billions of dollars are available in federal aid and Pell grants. This application is free.
1. FAFSA Application Form (click on "start here")
2. FAFSA Hotline: (800) 433-3243
3. FAFSA Email: FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov
4. FAFSA Worksheet (to see what questions you'll be answering)
This application form is individualized based on the colleges that you are applying to and how you answer the questions. The information is used to determine how much the college will give in aid from their college funds, not federal funds. There is a nominal fee to file the CSS Profile plus a small fee for every college.
2. CSS Profile (List of Colleges)
3. CSS Profile Hotline: (844) 202-0524
Get started on this right away -- even if you haven't received your W4s or financial records. Remember, the sooner they have your information, the sooner each college will be able to make financial aid offers.