FAFSA vs CSS Profile

I write a lot about the FAFSA, but there’s a second financial aid form that’s also important: the CSS Profile. While all schools use the FAFSA to allocate federal funds such as Direct Student Loans, a subset of schools– primarily private schools– use the CSS Profile in their financial aid calculations. There are a few key differences between the two…

Preparing for the FAFSA

A lot of people ask about how to prepare for the FAFSA. Doing the FAFSA is a lot like doing your taxes. You can absolutely wait until April 15 to fill out your 1040, but you’ll probably save some money by thinking about your taxes in the fall and taking some steps before the end of the year to mitigate…

Borrowing? Start with Federal Loans

About 1/3 of students and 1/5 of parents borrow to pay for college, with borrowed money covering about 21% of the total cost of college, according to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College. The report also showed that while federal student loans were the most common form of borrowing, about 10% of students used private loans as well. That’s…

The College Financial Lady Podcast

Exciting news: I have a podcast! My initial plan is that it will be more of a supplement to this blog than a replacement for it. My initial set of interviews is around topics outside the strict confines of paying for college– starting with everything you need to know about taking a gap year. You can access it on Spotify,…

College Financial Health

Want to know if your school is at risk financially? The Hechinger Report offers a college Financial Fitness Tracker, a searchable database of colleges showing their overall financial health based on a series of metrics. Their analysis shows that even before the pandemic hit, hundreds of colleges were experiencing financial distress. They cited several factors behind this: A smaller population…