Which Colleges Require CSS Profile?

CSS, FAFSA, EFC; the acronyms often seem endless. However, each one is equally important, and the CSS Profile is something all parents, guardians, and students should familiarize themselves with. The CSS Profile is one type of online application that determines financial aid. It’s used by colleges and scholarship programs alike and, as such, tudents who qualify may receive non-federal financial aid. By completing this online application, students can apply for a variety of scholarship programs. The FAFSA is what most students focus on, but Completing the FAFSA isn’t enough; you also need to complete the CSS Profile if you’re looking for alternative types of financial aid. But is this online application required and which colleges require the CSS Profile? This article answers these questions and more, beginning with the CSS Profile vs. the FAFSA. What’s the Difference Between CSS and FAFSA? Once you complete your CSS Profile, your information will be added to the Institutional Methodology formula. This formula determines how much financial need you require, along with whether you can contribute towards paying your school’s tuition. But how does this compare to filling out the FAFSA? With the FAFSA, student need is calculated using the Federal Methodology. Unlike the FAFSA, the College Board offers the CSS Profile, a private and independent form. Which CSS Profile Should You Fill out? You may be wondering, “Which CSS Profile should I fill out?” For starters, the CSS Profile is an online application for you or your parents/guardians to complete. You can do so by creating or accessing your College Board account. If you already have a College Board account, you’ll sign in to complete your CSS Profile application. If you previously created an account for the PSAT, SAT, or AP, then you’ll use this same login information. If you’ve never created a College Board account, you’ll need to sign up and create a new account. Once all your information is complete, it takes between three and five business days for all information to be processed and updated. From there, you’ll receive notification about your submitted documents. Completing Your CSS Profile Once you know which institution you’d like to apply to, take a look at their website to see if they require the CSS Profile, FAFSA, or both. If they require the CSS Profile, be sure they receive a copy. Required documents include W-3 forms, tax returns, and any other records for taxed and untaxed income, as well as assets, benefits, and bank statements. After you complete your online application, it’s best to keep an eye on your College Board account, ensuring no more actionable items are required. You’ll also see a payment receipt based on how many colleges you sent your CSS Profile to. If you have additional colleges you’d like to add, you can do so for an additional fee. When completing your CSS Profile, be careful to accurately complete the application. Although you can correct mistakes after you submit your application, you’re only allowed to make one correction every academic year. If you see additional mistakes that require correction, you’ll need to reach out to interested institutions for direct corrections. Are There Any Fees for Submitting the CSS Profile? There isn’t a limit to how many schools can receive the CSS Profile. However, there’s an associated cost for each school you send your CSS Profile to. For example, it costs $25 to send your initial online application to one institution of your choice. From there, it’s $16 for each subsequent institution that receives your CSS Profile. If you have a fee waiver, you may be able to submit your CSS Profile to different schools for free. To qualify for a fee waiver, you have to be a domestic undergraduate student. Additionally,  your family-adjusted gross income can’t be more than $100,000. There are other ways to qualify for a fee waiver, such as qualifying for the SAT fee waiver. Orphaned students under 24 also qualify for fee waivers. Do You Have to Submit a CSS Profile Every Year? Yes, if you’re looking for institutional financial aid yearly. You can complete your online CSS Profile application as early as October 1. Another popular question is whether you can complete both a CSS Profile and a FAFSA application. You should submit both a CSS Profile and FAFSA application, working to get maximum financial aid for school. Does it matter if you’re late with completing the CSS Profile? Yes. The school you’re interested in attending will have specific guidelines for completing the CSS Profile. If you don’t complete it on time, you might not qualify for scholarships and grants. Unfortunately, most schools won’t allow you to submit your CSS Profile after the due date. Which Schools Use a CSS Profile? Another question is, “Which schools require CSS?” Over 300 colleges, scholarship organizations, and universities require the CSS Profile. The difference between the CSS Profile and the FAFSA is that almost all institutions require the FAFSA, whereas fewer require the CSS Profile. If you’re unsure if your school requires the CSS Profile, you can check this list. Is the CSS Profile Required? Yes, knowing which colleges require the CSS profile is an important part of the college application process, but it’s also important to understand if you have to complete the CSS Profile. Even if your school of choice requires the CSS Profile, you may not have to complete one if you or your parents/guardians are paying for school out of pocket. However, always check with your educational institution to ensure you don’t have to complete the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile allows schools to consider you for aid based on merit, which means it’s not always a requirement. However, completing the CSS Profile may award you with scholarships, which means it’s worthwhile to complete. Complete Your CSS Profile Today Now that you know which schools require the CSS Profile and the importance of completing this online application, you may find yourself with other questions. This might be about completing the FAFSA and more,

Everything You Need to Know About Filling Out FAFSA

If you or your child is among the millions of students seeking a degree from a college or university, then it’s important to understand the basics of filling out the FAFSA. The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, offers countless benefits. For example, federal student loans are known for their reduced interest rates, helping borrowers pay back their loans after graduation. Additionally, if you’re interested in applying for grants or scholarships, then you may have to apply for the FAFSA, making it a crucial part of the college application process. With the FAFSA comes a myriad of questions, however, from registration to paying back student loans. Here’s what you need to know. How to Register for FAFSA You may be wondering how to sign up for FAFSA. Do students or parents fill out the FAFSA? More importantly, do you have to fill out the FAFSA? To complete your FAFSA form, you’ll need to visit the Federal Student Aid’s website. From there, you’ll be prompted to start a new form, provided this is your first time filing. There is also an option to access an existing form if you already applied. The FAFSA is technically the student’s responsibility, but parents and guardians have a substantial part in the application process when students are considered dependents. Parents and students have to report basic information, such as name, birth date, and social security number, if applicable. Marital status, household size, and residing state are also required questions, along with personal finances. Is FAFSA Required? Another popular question among parents and students is whether the FAFSA is a necessity. Since the FAFSA is a college financial aid application, students who don’t want or need assistance aren’t required to complete the FAFSA. But, as previously mentioned, the FAFSA may be a prerequisite for grants or scholarships. It’s also important to know when to apply for FAFSA. Every year has similar dates for application: between October 1st and June 30th. However, it’s advisable to apply early and to follow dates for application, especially when funds are limited. But do you have to pay back FAFSA? FAFSA isn’t a loan, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to repay. Do I Have to Pay Back FAFSA? Completing the FAFSA helps eligible students obtain various types of financial aid. This includes grants, federal student loans, and student employment. A Federal Pell Grant typically does not require repayment, but FAFSA is still required to apply for these grants. Federal student loans, however, require repayment. The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program doesn’t require repayment either. Is FAFSA Free to Apply For? Another common question is if it’s free to apply for the FAFSA. Yes, it’s free to apply for the FAFSA. Additionally, if you choose to apply for private student loans, you most likely won’t pay a fee either. To summarize, does FAFSA reimburse you? No, as it’s just an application for financial aid. Do you pay back financial aid from FAFSA? Yes, if it’s a loan and not a grant or FWS, as FAFSA helps you obtain various types of financial aid. Does FAFSA Deny Applications? There is a chance that FAFSA will deny your application. This happens when applications don’t meet the program’s basic eligibility requirements. For example, if you’re not a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, you may be denied. Additionally, if you haven’t shown that you need financial assistance, your application may also be denied. If this happens to you but you still need some type of financial aid, it’s best to talk to your school. You may be able to appeal your rejection for federal student aid. You can also ask what your school’s minimum requirements for financial aid are and how you can become eligible. When Do I Get My FAFSA? FAFSA is an application for financial aid determination. When you receive funds is up to your school. Each school has a schedule for distributing funds to students, which is why it’s important to complete your FAFSA — in its entirety — as soon as possible. When do FAFSA awards come out? This answer depends on the schools you applied to, but they traditionally send out award letters around mid-April. These letters explain what’s included in your financial aid package. When to Apply for Student Loans When you apply for student loans depends on the type of loans you’re interested in taking. If you want to apply for federal student loans, then you need to complete your FAFSA, following application guidelines. If you’re interested in private student loans, however, then you don’t need to complete the FAFSA unless you also want to apply for grants or scholarships. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to apply for private student loans about two months before you have to pay college tuition. This means you need to pay close attention to when your school requires tuition payment. For example, if payment is due in July, then you want to apply for private student loans no later than May. Does FAFSA Affect Admission? No, FAFSA does not affect admission. Schools look for students who excel in a variety of diversified areas, and financial status doesn’t affect their chances of receiving acceptance to a college or university. Completing the FAFSA and receiving financial aid can help make your dream of earning a college degree that much more attainable. Students are also protected by various laws, ensuring they’re not discriminated against due to personal finances, amongst other things. For example, take The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation prevents discrimination in multiple areas, education being one of them. More specifically is Title IV of the Act. This protects students in public schools and higher education. Additionally, Title VI protects students from being discriminated against if they receive federal funds. Considering that over 85% of students receive financial aid in one way or another, all students should feel comfortable applying for — and accessing — the FAFSA. Filling Out The FAFSA Although not every student has

College Saving Strategies

It’s reported that 85% of students receive financial aid to offset the cost of tuition. This may include loans, grants, scholarships, and more. However, parents need to focus on the best college-saving strategies, working to prepare for their child’s continued education. The type of college a student attends plays a large role in how much they’ll spend on their education. A private college, for example, could be as much as 75% more expensive than a public one. However, the school your child attends depends largely on their area of study and which school can help them achieve their career goals. This means that parents should prepare for their child’s education as early as possible. There are various ways parents can save, but which savings plan is best? Let’s take a look at different college-saving strategies.  Focus on a Dollar Amount Before figuring out the best way to save money, it’s important to consider a dollar amount. A general rule of thumb is to save at least 50% of your child’s complete college tuition. If you start saving when your child is young, it’s difficult to predict where they’ll go to school. But you can base your savings plan on the average tuition cost in your state or even in the country if you plan on moving. You can create a monthly savings plan that works for you, your family, and your budget, investing so you see a return when your child is college-bound. How Much Will Your Money Grow? Although many parents choose to invest their child’s college funds in a 529 account (more on that to follow), not everyone does. There are certain drawbacks to a 529, and some parents may opt to invest in some type of low-cost brokerage account. However, you’ll need to decide if you should conservatively or moderately invest. It all depends on when you start saving for your child’s future. If you start earlier, you may benefit from a more aggressive account that wields a higher return. A few years before you’re ready to access this money, you’ll want to reduce your account to a more conservative one. Consider that, annually, the stock market has an average rate of return equal to 10%. If you save $10,000 a year for 15 years you’ll have roughly $350,000 in your account. If you start saving as soon as your child is born, you can scale back to a more conservative account by the time your child is a sophomore in high school. What’s nice about investing in the stock market is that you can use this money for anything. This means that, should your child get a scholarship, this money is available to fund their future in other ways — their first house, first car, wedding, and so forth. Keep in mind that there is a risk associated with investing in stocks, and you have to pay long-term capital gains taxes. 529 Savings Account A 529 savings account has its benefits. However, you’ll also encounter some drawbacks. For starters, 529 accounts offer limited investment opportunities. You may find that the type of 529 plan you choose — and your state — restricts where you can invest. On the other hand, there are tax benefits with this kind of account. No, you can’t use your 529 plan for any income tax deductions, but you can grow these accounts federal tax-free. Additionally, when you withdraw funds from this type of account, you’re not taxed. If your child receives a scholarship or decides against going to college, then your 529 plan will cost you. Should you cash it out for anything besides your child’s tuition or other college-related expenses, you’ll have to pay federal income tax on the money plus an additional 10% penalty on any money you have earned. This can make a 529 plan offputting for parents. It’s also possible that a 529 plan will count against your child’s ability to receive student aid, so always speak with a qualified professional if you’re unsure about the best way to save. Save Monthly According to T. Rowe Price, if possible,  save $250 a month starting when your child is born. However, this isn’t always feasible for everyone. Even if you don’t have $250 to save every month, make saving habitual. No matter how much or how little, put money aside regularly. For birthdays, holidays, and other milestones, consider asking family and friends for contributions to your child’s college fund. It’s also important to consider your finances when creating a savings plan. When your child is young, daycare can be expensive. The average cost of childcare is anywhere from $5,000 to $17,000 yearly.  As your child becomes school-age and transitions out of daycare, your monthly childcare expenses should be reduced. From there, you can add more money to your child’s college savings account. It’s a good idea to sit with a financial planner yearly, discussing your investments and what you can change. If you’re unsure about how to find a financial planner, start with your local bank. They usually have a financial planning department ready to help you with your college savings goals. Parent Income vs Student Income When saving for college, remember that a parent’s assets and a student’s assets are different. When utilizing 529 plans, understand that this type of account is considered an asset of the owner. It’s not the asset of the student beneficiary. Additionally, a student’s assets and income can affect their Expected Family Income (EFC), soon to be the Student Aid Index (SAI). Before beginning the FAFSA process, parents should transfer assets from the student’s name into the parent’s name. It’s also important to factor in student income allowance, as it’s protected income. Asset protection allowance isn’t considered when determining your child’s financial aid. This means that students and parents can have assets that aren’t used for educational expenses. Additionally, these assets may be eligible for EFC/SAI calculator exclusion. The result is more federal financial aid being awarded, along with additional grants and

Paying Your EFC for College

Consider the following information: 36.7% of undergraduate students receive federal loans that average $8,285. Another 42% of undergraduate students receive an estimated $5,179 just in federal grants. Even more importantly, in a single academic year, it’s reported that $2 billion in federal student grants remain unused by students. With this amount of federal money in play, it’s more important than ever to understand your EFC for college so you can take every opportunity to benefit from it. This article covers questions such as “What is EFC?” and explains why you need to know this information as your prepare to pay for your child’s school. What Is My EFC? As your child prepares for college, you may find yourself overwhelmed by acronyms and student aid-related terms. If this sounds familiar, you might be wondering, “What is EFC on FAFSA?”. You may also wonder how it applies to your family. So what is the EFC exactly? EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. This index number serves as the deciding factor in your child’s federal student financial aid eligibility. Once you complete the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’ll be assigned an index number. What EFC means to each family is different. For example, benefits, assets, and taxed and untaxed income are all taken into consideration when determining this number. You can find your EFC on your Student Aid Report (SAR). Log into your FAFSA form, select “View SAR,” and you’ll find your EFC number. Your EFC is important for schools to determine how much financial aid your child qualifies for. It’s important to remember that, if you need additional funds, there are ways to obtain them. This includes scholarships, so be sure to speak with your child’s school and ask what else you can apply for. What Is a Good EFC Number? At this point, you may find yourself asking, “What is a low EFC and is it better?” As a rule of thumb, a low EFC number yields a higher government reward. You complete the FAFSA and schools determine EFC numbers between 0 and 999,999. Once this number is determined, the amount of federal student aid your child qualifies for will be applied the following school year. If your child’s EFC number is 0, they’re entitled to the maximum dollar amount of student aid available. Any number over 5273, however, receives no student aid. Keep in mind that these numbers are fluid and that the amount of money awarded to families varies from one academic year to the next. The closer your EFC score is to 0, the more student aid money received. Does Your EFC Affect Financial Aid? Your EFC meaning correlates to your FAFSA. This means that, in theory, a lower EFC number provides your child with more financial aid. To determine how much financial aid your child needs, subtract your EFC from the cost of attendance (COA) from the school of their choice. COA includes everything your child needs to thrive academically, including tuition, room and board, supplies, books, and transportation. Using this formula, your child’s school will send you a financial aid package so you know what you’re responsible for and what the federal government pays. This package is called a financial aid offer. Does this mean that your child should avoid the most expensive school on their list? Not necessarily. There are instances where an expensive school might be the least expensive for your family. Never let the price of a school deter your child from applying. The vast majority of students receive some type of scholarship or financial aid. They may also receive work-study or grants, or a combination of everything. Each school has a total financial aid package and this number is what plays the deciding factor in how much financial assistance your child receives. Remember that your child can also apply for student loans with flexible repayment options that you can assist them with. Why Your EFC Matters Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is EFC FAFSA and how do I find out my number?”, you may be wondering how soon you need to obtain this information. Ideally, you should try to get your EFC as soon as your child starts looking at colleges. Since your EFC number helps you determine what your out-of-pocket contributions are, the sooner you find out, the better. If your family’s EFC number is high, your child might want to look at schools that award merit scholarships. These are ideal for academically competitive students. On the other hand, if your family has a low EFC number, you may want to consider schools with considerable need-based aid. You can also use your EFC number as part of your long-term financial planning solution. Since your EFC is recalculated every year, consider if your financial situation will change at all. It’s important to also consider if you’ll one day have more children attending college and, if so, how this will impact your EFC. This will also affect how much financial aid a school with offer your child. When you know your EFC number and understand how it affects your child’s future tuition, you can make changes to lower what you can expect to pay. Your EFC is calculated using information from two years before the academic year your child is applying for, so you’ll have time during that year to reduce your EFC. Determine Your EFC Number Once you complete your FAFSA and have your EFC number, you can work with a financial planner to determine the best way to pay for your child’s college. You can also use this information to consider the best schools for your child’s needs but remember that tuition alone shouldn’t be a deciding factor in where your child attends college. Most schools offer some type of assistance, so focus on areas of study that interest your child and send them to the best school for their needs. Use your EFC as a guide to help you prepare