I want to remind you about a very important upcoming event. October 1st is the first day the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) https://fafsa.ed.gov/ and the CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/ go live for the class of 2020 prospective college applicants. What should families know?
· Any U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen who wants to apply for need-based aid, or for merit aid at a small handful of schools, will need to submit the FAFSA before the institutional deadline at each of the colleges on their list.
· About 250 institutions also require the CSS Profile. A list of those institutions is here, but it is always best to check the website or financial aid office of the college itself: https://profile.collegeboard.org/profile/ppi/participatingInstitutions.aspx.
· Any student thinking of applying early decision or early action may have a financial aid deadline as early as November 1.
· This is the student’s form, not the parent’s, although many parents complete the forms on the student's behalf. To begin the process, the student must first create their FSA ID. If the parent will be co-signing the form for students under 18, or if the parent wants to access the form, they will need to create their own FSA ID after the student creates theirs. The FSA ID is an electronic fingerprint associated with one person and one email address. It can be created here: https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm.
· It is best for each family to calculate their COA (cost of attendance) on each college website using the college’s net price calculator. These calculators estimate you child’s cost of attendance based on the cost of tuition and fees minus any grants or scholarships your child will be eligible to receive.
One question that frequently comes up with my clients is: If we are a full-pay family do we “need” to submit the FAFSA?
Here is my response:
A full-pay family does not have to submit the FAFSA or CSS Profile. Whether they should submit it is a different question. It is about weighing the pros and cons and making a decision that is best for the family.
Reasons to submit the FAFSA and, if required, the CSS Profile:
· As a hedge against a future unexpected loss of income by the family. Many schools will not review a matriculating student’s request for financial aid if they were admitted as a full-pay freshman who did not submit the FAFSA/Profile at that time.
· If a second child will be enrolling in college while the older one is still attending. Two or more children in college significantly lowers the bar for financial aid eligibility.
· If a particular school requires it/them for merit aid consideration, although most do not.
Reasons not to submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile:
· If a family is confident they will not require any need-based aid while their children are in college.
·Those seeking need-based aid, if they are borderline applicants on the cusp of admissibility, may be at a disadvantage against another applicant who is not seeking need-based aid and will be considered full-pay for their four years of college.
·Many families have no desire to share a snapshot of their finances unnecessarily.
In the end, this is the family’s choice based on their assessment of the pros and cons. No right or wrong here.
I wish you and your families all the best during this process.