Many students who qualify for financial aid do not received it because they don’t fail out the necessary College Board financial aid forms.
There are three types of College Board financial aid forms:
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
- CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE; and
- Various state forms.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
The vast majority of colleges require this one of the College Board financial aid forms because it’s used to determine eligibility for federal student aid. Most financial aid comes from federal, not private sources, so it’s important to complete the FAFSA and return it promptly to your financial aid officer.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
The PROFILE is used by many colleges to determined eligibility for institutional aid.
Various State Forms
In-state applicants are often eligible for state aid. This is not the same form as the FAFSA, which determines federal financial aid.
Students and their guardians must be aware of the need to adhere to the financial aid timeline. The timeline will be provided to you by the school’s financial aid office. While the financial aid timeline for each state and institution is slightly different, they all generally look like this:
- In January, students will complete the FAFSA.
- February is, for many colleges, the priority deadline for new applicants.
- In March, you will generally receive a call from the financial aid department, asking you about any special circumstances that must be taken into account when awarding aid. If the office doesn’t call you, be sure that you make contact with them.
- Admissions and financial aid notifications are usually mailed out in by the beginning of April.
- Students must tell all of the colleges offering them acceptance whether or not they will attend by the first of May. Deposits will generally be due at that time.
- The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is usually due sometime between October and December.
College Board data indicates that almost all students who apply receive some form of financial aid. At four-year colleges, 73 percent of students apply for some sort of financial aid; 73 percent of students are determined to need financial aid, and over 95 percent are awarded financial aid in the form of federal loans and grants, private student loans, scholarships, work-study programs, and fellowships. The main reasons reported by the College Board for not receiving financial aid are because students and their guardians don’t apply, and because they fill out the forms incompletely or incorrectly.
Work closely with your financial aid office, adhere to your institution’s timeline, and make sure to follow all directions carefully when filling out the College Board financial aid forms.