This is a segment of Bautis Financial’s college planning series, which includes webinars, podcast episodes, blog posts and downloadables to aid college-bound students and families in the admissions process. Visit our college planning hub for more valuable resources.
The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a government application that millions of parents fill out every year in order to qualify for federal and state college aid.
The FAFSA gives families access to aid like federal parent and student loans and the Pell Grant, which is the major grant for middle- to lower-income families. There are also some minor grants from the federal government, for instance, for students in certain high-need subjects – like teaching – or if a parent was killed in the Middle East conflict.
Students and parents will want to complete the FAFSA even if they believe they won’t qualify for need-based financial aid, because it’s needed if you want your child to qualify for a work-study job on campus, if you think you might end up borrowing money for college, etc.
When to File the FAFSA
The FAFSA opens on October 1st. It’s always a good idea to fill it out as soon as you can, because many state schools award financial aid and grant money on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who file the FAFSA in the first three months of its opening tend to get twice as many grants as those who file later, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for SavingforCollege.com.’
When it comes to the FAFSA, some assets have to be reported – and others don’t. Learn how your assets could impact student aid eligibility and 15 answers to the most important FAFSA questions.
What Schools Require the CSS Profile?
The vast majority of schools use only the FAFSA, but there are about 300 colleges and universities that require the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, which is how they decide who gets institutional need-based aid.
The CSS Profile also opens October 1st, but is a bit more involved than the FAFSA, so it may take longer to fill out. Read what you need to know about the CSS Profile.
You can find a full list of the schools that require the CSS profile here. To give you an idea of the schools that use it, they include all of the Ivy League members, University of Southern California, Stanford, NYU and elite liberal arts colleges. Very few public schools use the CSS Profile, but a few do, including University of Michigan, Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Virginia.
Begin your journey of mastering the college admissions process with Bautis Financial. Whether you’re a parent or guardian, student or school counselor, book a free consultation to discuss how our financial advisors can be a college planning resource.