College Planning - Financial Aid

FINANCIAL AID is usually awarded in a "package," which can consist of one or all of the following components: a scholarship or grant (usually directly from the university) which does not need to be repaid, a loan (usually from federal or state money), and an on-campus job. Distribution is based on financial need. Each college offers an Award Letter, either by email or regular mail, to students in early spring of the senior year. Most financial assistance is administered through the Financial Aid Office of individual colleges. In most instances this will require the family to file some combination of the following three forms:

1) Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This document is filed after January 1 fo the student's senior year.The Federal government will process this form free of charge. Almost every college or university requires the FAFSA, if the family wants to be considered for any kind of financial assistance. It asks families to supply information about their income and assets and is most easily filled out using a completed tax return. The FAFSA will be available online in early January of the senior year, and may be filed electronically at

2) College Board’s PROFILE form: Many private colleges and universities require more information than the FAFSA can provide. Therefore, many of these schools will ask the financial aid applicant to complete the CSS PROFILE. Go to for specific information. A processing fee is charged.

3) Institutional Forms: Some colleges have their own form, in addition to the FAFSA and the PROFILE. Because colleges often differ in their requirements to receive financial aid, students should contact the financial aid office at the schools they wish to attend to determine which forms are necessary.