3 Questions Families Should Know About The FAFSA

Dear College Made Simple reader,

We’re approaching the home stretch. Yes, deadlines may be later – but as soon as the New Year hits, you want to be ready to turn in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

After all, the sooner you finish and apply for financial aid, the better your chances for a good award.

That said – the last thing you want to do is turn in your application on day one – but with wrong, or missing, key ingredients.

With that in mind, we’re continuing our coverage of FAFSA applications today by going over a few key questions we often get from families we work with.


3 Questions Families Should Know About The FAFSA

  • How is the FAFSA different from a CSS profile?

While everyone knows about the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), slightly less well known (but no less important) is the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile.

The CSS Profile differs from the FAFSA in a few important ways. For instance, it may take other assets into account – like your home’s value.

As if the FAFSA wasn’t a big enough pain; consequently, the CSS Profile is far more complex to fill out. However, it may well be worth it.

That’s because the CSS Profile helps you to get private funds from some colleges. Not all participate – you should investigate in the case of individual schools. But if a prospective school does use the CSS Profile, you could do very well by applying for private funds through this form.

It’s a good bit more work… but through the CSS Profile, schools open up an entire new avenue of grants and scholarships unknown to most.

  • What Is More Important On The FAFSA – Income Or Assets?

Income typically counts against your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) much more than assets do. You’re expected to pay a higher percentage of income than of assets – exactly how much depends on who is doing the paying – the student, a parent, or another family member.

In other words, the smaller you can legally make your income, the better your financial aid package will likely be.

The same holds true for assets; the smaller you can legally make your ‘includable’ assets – the assets that the colleges ‘include’ when calculating how much you can pay for college – the better your financial aid package will likely be as well. Remember the key word here; “legally.” We’re not suggesting lying or cheating whatsoever… but we are suggesting taking advantage of any legal strategies you can to keep your out-of-pocket college costs as low as possible.


  • Should Families Pay Someone To Help Them Through The Financial Aid Process?

Well, the short answer to that is, “it depends.” There’s a certain peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ve got an expert working the case for you – especially knowing that college is one of the single largest financial expenditures you will ever make in your lifetime.

You really have to decide if you want to go through this process on your own, or if you’d like someone to take charge of it with you. Only you can decide that. Some people want assurance knowing they did everything they could to make sure their costs were as low as possible by hiring an expert… and others have a more ‘do it yourself’ mentality and want to go at it alone.

By all means, do as much research as you can. And if you’d like the feedback of professionals who understand the “ins” and “outs” of the financial aid space, feel free to take us up on our Free College Funding Analysis, which we make available to help families determine a proper course of action as to what would be best for them in their particular situation. It’s 100% free, and the worst case scenario is that you’ll learn exactly where you currently sit – and if there’s anything at all you can do to better your family’s situation.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC

Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com – The free educational resource of College Planning Network


Related Articles:

FAFSA FAQs: Verification, Changes, PINs and Status

Financial Aid Eligibility: Why It’s Always a Good Idea to Submit the FAFSA

5 Tips on How to Fill Out the FAFSA Form

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.