FAFSA, EFC, CSS…It’s not just alphabet soup

A lot of families assume that they won’t qualify for any kind of aid from the federal government to help pay for college, so they don’t fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  This is a huge mistake because many colleges and universities require that the FAFSA is completed in order to be considered for their institutional aid.

When you complete the FAFSA, you will receive an EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  This is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is used by schools to determine how much and what type of aid you will receive.  This aid can come in the form of grants, loans or work study opportunities.

Over 400 individual institutions also use a form called CSS to determine institutional aid.  If a school uses the CSS profile it will be listed on their website.  Again, the results of this information can provide your student with institutional grants, loans or other opportunities on campus.

So, why does all this matter to you or your student?  It is nearly impossible to get your hands on the financial opportunities to help pay for college without completing these forms and getting them turned in on time.  With application season ramping up for rising seniors, it is an important time for parents and students to understand the financial aspects of the process.  A quick way to get ahead of the game is to complete an estimate of your EFC now using the FAFSA 4CASTER.  The earlier you can understand this part of the process, the less stressed everyone will be.  Your accountant can be a great resource to help with this process as well.

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