Archive

Applying for Free Money (i.e. Financial Aid)

Financing Available Image

The process to apply for college financial aid requires families to complete several forms.  Below is a list of the forms needed to complete the financial aid application process:

2011 Tax Returns? Check.

FAFSA (aka Free Application for Federal Student Aid)?  Check.

CSS/PROFILE?  Wait a minute…What’s that?

2012 Tax Returns, done?  Excuse me, why do I need to have my 2012 taxes done already?  It’s only January 3rd.

The above list shows the range of information that will be requested by colleges.  In some cases, colleges also have their own forms that families must complete in order to apply for financial aid.  Each college defines it’s own application process for financial aid, so be sure to check what information is required and the deadlines for submitting each form.    Here’s a simple understanding of how each financial aid form is used in the financial aid process:

  • 2011 Tax Returns will help families complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.  The FAFSA is released each year on January 1.  (Be sure to check deadlines for when colleges request the FAFSA be completed.)
  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):  Any need based aid will be determined from the information families present in the FAFSA.  Even if parents don’t believe their student will qualify, fill out the form anyways.  Let the college say, “No.”  If anything, parents will have an understanding of what the Federal government determines is their out-of-pocket expenses, also called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  The EFC can be helpful in discussions with financial aid offices, if needed.
  • CSS/PROFILE:  This form is often required by private universities, wanting a more detailed understanding of a family’s finances.  Found through the College Board, families can generate worksheets to fill out the form offline, then submit the information to multiple campuses online.  The fee for the initial report to one college is $25, with additional college reports costing $16 each.
  • 2012 Federal Tax Returns:  Private universities often ask for parents to submit signed copies, with all schedules, of 2012 Tax Returns as a verification of their finances, as well as (in some cases) determine more about the family’s ability to pay.

If you have any questions about the process to apply for financial aid, ask.  The more you know, the more you’ll be able to help your children achieve their college goals.

Through planning ahead, families can find help to finance college.  If your family is seeking guidance about affording increasing college costs, call Creative Marbles Consultancy at (916) 457-4090 to help you plan.