FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Families must complete a FAFSA to apply for federal student aid and to apply for most state and college aid.

  • FAFSA forms are free. *Be wary of organizations that charge a fee to submit your application.

  • Many schools require students to submit a financial aid form specific to the school, and many private colleges require students to submit a form called the CSS/Financial Aid Profile form.


EFC: Estimated Family Contribution

Scholarships and Grants: Scholarships and grants are money from federal, state, and private sources that can be used to pay college costs, and that do not need to be paid back. Scholarships and grants are based on financial need or merit, and many are earmarked for women, minorities, athletics and students with special skills or interests. Scholarships and grants are awarded by schools and private organizations based on the following criteria:

  • Merit-based scholarships and grants are awarded based on students' academic, artistic, athletic, or other abilities. Financial need is not used to determine the recipient of the award.

  • Need-based scholarships and grants are awarded primarily based on students and family's financial circumstances. Such scholarships will cover all or part of tuition and may even cover additional costs. For example, the federal government provides Pell Grants to students based on financial need.

Federal Work-Study: The Federal Work-Study Program is administered through the Office of Federal Student Aid, a program of the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time jobs to students with financial need. Most jobs are on-campus.


  • Social Security numbers- make sure to enter the number correctly

  • Missing signatures- See in PIN information above

  • Citizen or permanent resident- If a student is born in this country or has a Certificate of Naturalization they will indicate that they are a US citizen.

  • Divorced/remarried parental information- Answer the questions using the information about the parent that the student lived with more during the past 12 months. If the student did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided the most financial support for the student (e.g. money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothes, medical expenses). *Step-parent's information must be included for remarried parents.

  • Student lives with grandparents- Information on biological parents (and step-parent if applicable) is required on the FAFSA. Students cannot use grandparent income information nor can they use a sister, aunt, uncle, etc. except in cases where the student was legally adopted.

  • Household size- Parents' other children should be included.

  • U.S. income taxes paid- Parents and students frequently report an incorrect value for taxes paid. It is often reported the amount of tax that was taken out of their paycheck or reported the same as their adjusted gross income.