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Financial Aid Resources for College

The fall is a busy time of year if you have a high school senior --so many exciting plans and opportunities! Although with this excitement there is also some trepidation - how will you cover the cost of college? This month’s focus is on need-based financial aid.

There are 2 basic types of financial aid: 

• Need-based aid consists of grants, work-study, and subsidized loans for financially eligible students. Grants are “free money” that students do not need to repay.  The Federal Work-study Program provides an opportunity for a student to obtain a part-time job. Federal student loans will need to be paid back with interest. The office of Federal Student Aid provides approximately $112 billion to over 13 million students annually. 

• Merit awards, also known as non-need-based aid, are determined by individual college admissions’ offices. Awards are not based on financial need.  Merit awards are given to students who meet the college’s requirements that include GPA, class rank, test scores, a specific major, special talent or where the student lives. 

Submitting the FAFSA for Need-Based Aid: 

• In order to be considered for federal need-based aid, such as, federal grants, work-study, and loans, the FAFSA (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid) must be completed. It provides access to the largest source of financial aid to help families pay for college.  The federal FAFSA deadline for the 2023-2024 academic year is June 30, 2023.

• States and colleges also use a family’s FAFSA information to award their own grants, scholarships, and loans to eligible students. Their deadlines are usually much earlier. For example, college FAFSA deadlines are generally in the months of October or November of the student’s high school senior year. Check out the financial aid section of the college’s website.  The state deadlines vary - please refer to the studentaid.gov (FAFSA Deadlines). 

• FAFSA is available starting October 1st every year.  High school seniors attending college in fall 2023 would submit their FAFSA this fall.  FAFSA must be refiled each year.

• Apply as early as possible -on average more federal, state, and college grants are provided to families when the FAFSA is filed early. 

• Add a school on the FAFSA list even if there is only a slight chance of applying.  It can always be removed later - and potential financial aid won’t be missed.

• FAFSA Tip: Three important reasons to fill out the FAFSA form even if qualifying for need-based aid appears doubtful: (1) students may be eligible for unsubsidized federal student loans which have lower interest rates than private loans; (2) federal loans may offer loan forgiveness programs and customized repayment plans; and (3) some colleges require the FAFSA for merit consideration.   

What is the CSS Profile form?

• In addition to filing the FAFSA form, approximately 240 colleges also require the CSS profile. The CSS Profile provides a more detailed assessment of a family’s financial circumstances which colleges use to determine students’ financial aid eligibility. The majority of colleges that require the CSS profile are the private and more selective  schools.

• The CSS Profile college list is located on Collegeboard.org.

• Remember to check the college website for their specific CSS deadlines. 

Additional Helpful Information: 

Cost of Attendance (COA), or the sticker price, is the amount of money that a student is expected to pay for the college year which includes: tuition, room & board, fees, average cost of books/supplies, transportation cost, and personal expenses. The COA can be found on every college website.  Tip: Don’t just focus on the COA when considering a specific college – a student may receive financial aid or merit which would reduce the overall cost.

The Net Price Calculator (NPC): The net price of a college is the total cost of attendance (COA) minus grants and scholarships. Using the NPC calculator on the college’s website will provide an estimated net price for the school year.  The NPC can be extremely helpful in determining college cost; however, not all NPCs are created equal - some are better than others. 

Loans: In addition to student loans, parent loans may also be necessary. The loan simulator is a handy tool to determine what the estimated monthly costs would be. Parents, along with their student, working through the loan simulator is a great exercise to do together.  https://studentaid.gov/loan-simulator/


As financial aid is a broad and detailed process, the suggestions/article/tips may not answer all of your questions.  If you need more assistance visit the Federal Student Aid website - it is a great resource. Additionally, feel free to contact our office as well.  Good luck and enjoy the journey.  

College 101 Admissions Consultants LLC. Website: www.mycollege101.com. 
Email: [email protected] Phone: 508-380-3845.

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