Category Archives: CSS PROFILE

FAFSA FAQs 2

Q: I won’t qualify for financial aid. Do I need to fill out the FAFSA?

A: Yes! Regardless of whether you think you’re eligible for aid, you should complete the FAFSA. You have to complete it if you (or your student) intends to take out federal student loans, which are available to anyone regardless of need. If you have any intention of borrowing, the Direct Student Loan should be your starting point. Plus, some Continue reading FAFSA FAQs 2

Aid Formulas

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, this is a bit of a refresher post.

There are three aid formulas: Federal methodology (FM), based on the FAFSA; Institutional Methodology (IM), based on the CSS PROFILE; and Consensus Methodology (CM), which uses both aid forms. Each is a different way of calculating a family’s Continue reading Aid Formulas

Home Equity and Aid Formulas

With price gains in most housing markets nationwide over the last few years, parents need to understand how aid formulas treat home equity. The good news: the FAFSA doesn’t consider home equity. The bad news: the CSS PROFILE requests information on home equity, and schools using the CSS PROFILE may calculate your home equity’s value for EFC purposes in one of three different ways: Continue reading Home Equity and Aid Formulas

CSS/PROFILE Question SR 160A

Perhaps the #1 most-frequently-asked question about the CSS/PROFILE is “How am I supposed to answer question 160A?” (“Enter the amount your parents think they will be able to pay for your 2017-18 college expenses.”) It’s a trap, right? A higher-stakes version of the “name your price” offers musicians put out there for concerts and downloads. Answer too high and you might be giving up aid; answer too low and your student might Continue reading CSS/PROFILE Question SR 160A

Why file the FAFSA

As many as 1/3 of college students don’t complete the FAFSA. There are a variety of reasons why not, ranging from fears about its complexity to the assumption that it’s not worth the time because the family is not eligible for aid and hundreds if not thousands of other reasons. The end result is that a lot of money is left on the table and many families Continue reading Why file the FAFSA

How to Fill out the FAFSA 3: Assets

Once you’ve finished the income section of the FAFSA, you’re on the home stretch. What’s left? Assets. And once again, the form is deceptively simple: “As of today, what is the net worth of your parents’ investments, including real estate (not your parents’ home)?”

OK, so not the home. But what does count? Continue reading How to Fill out the FAFSA 3: Assets

Life Insurance and Annuities

Many people call themselves “financial advisors” when they should in fact be called sales people. A number of these types are active right now telling parents of high school juniors and seniors that they should buy annuities or life insurance to help themselves in the financial aid process. This “investment” is not as helpful as you might think. Continue reading Life Insurance and Annuities

To Save or Not to Save

Last week I appeared in an article in the New York Times’ personal finance section about whether saving for college is advantageous or disadvantageous with respect to receiving financial aid. Many people believe that college savings result in lower financial aid awards; it’s a logical assumption since Continue reading To Save or Not to Save

2015: The Biggest Year Ever for the FAFSA

This week, President Obama signed an executive order that will dramatically simplify the financial aid process for many families. Beginning next October, for the 2017-2018 school year, families will be able to file the FAFSA using two years’ prior (“prior-prior year”) data. That means that Continue reading 2015: The Biggest Year Ever for the FAFSA