What is FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Each year, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA get more than $120 billion in grants, work-study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education.
Lots of states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine which students get financial aid—and how much they’ll get.
The FAFSA asks for information about you and your family’s finances, including tax returns, so you’ll need your parents’ help to complete it.
- Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do if you want financial aid.
- The FAFSA is free—you don’t need to pay anyone to prepare it for you.
- You need to submit a new FAFSA before each academic year in which you want to get aid. If you plan to apply for aid throughout college, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA each year.
- Be sure to use a permanent email address on the form, not your high school email, so you can use your FAFSA account throughout college.
Who Should Complete the FAFSA?
Anyone planning on going to college in the next academic year should fill out the FAFSA.
- Each year, millions—sometimes billions—of dollars in federal aid is left on the table by students who didn’t file a FAFSA. It’s simple: If you don’t file, you won’t qualify for most financial aid.
- Your family doesn’t have to have a low income to qualify for assistance. Even if your family makes $200,000 a year, you could be eligible for aid.
- You automatically qualify for a low-interest federal loan when you submit a FAFSA. These loans are less expensive to pay back than many private student loans.
- Many work-study programs require the FAFSA.
- Some merit-based scholarships require the FAFSA to help them determine scholarship amounts.
Check out the Federal Student Aid Website for everything you need to know!
What is the CSS Profile?
The CSS Profile is an online application that students submit to apply for financial aid from colleges and scholarship programs. It’s different from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®) that students use to apply for financial aid from the federal government.
Your child should submit both the CSS Profile and FAFSA to maximize the amount of financial aid they could get.
CSS Profile Facts
- Hundreds of colleges and scholarship organizations use CSS Profile to help them award aid.
- There’s a fee for submitting the CSS Profile to colleges, but many students are eligible for fee waivers to cover the costs.
- Some colleges require students to use the CSS Profile to apply for nonfederal aid.
- The CSS Profile application asks for details about your financial situation that may increase the aid your child gets.
- Each college sets its own CSS Profile submission deadlines.
- The CSS Profile asks for more information about your financial situation than the FAFSA does, but some of the questions are the same.
- To make sure your answers are consistent across both applications, you may want to fill them out at the same time.
For additional information on Financial Aid, College Selection and College Application Processes, please visit the Pine-Richland High School College & Career Counseling page.
Please consider scheduling an appointment with Mrs. Whalen, Director of College & Career Counseling.