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Financial Aid 101: Finding Funds for College
Finding a way to fund your college education can be tricky, but IS possible. Included here are some helpful links and general information to guide you along the way. Jennifer Marsden, AHS ASPIRE Coordinator, is available in the counseling office to answer your questions on financial aid, FAFSA, and the CSS Profile.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA is an online application which calculates the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to college costs. A student’s EFC is then used by colleges to determine whether a student is eligible for the federal Pell Grant. The FAFSA is also used by the State of Oregon to determine if a student qualifies for the Oregon Opportunity Grant and the Oregon Promise. For more information about FAFSA and to see FAQs visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.
All families are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA, regardless of income. Many scholarships (even some that are merit based), and student and parent loans require a completed FAFSA.
The FAFSA for the following school year becomes available on October 1st– seniors and their parents should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st to guarantee students receive all aid for which they qualify.
Before starting the FAFSA, get an FSA ID. The FSA ID is your electronic signature. Both the student and one parent need to attain an FSA ID. Students should complete their own FSA ID application, as they will use their FSA ID throughout college to access their FAFSA information and to accept student loans if they decide to take them: Sign up for an FSA ID at https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm
Make sure to apply for your FAFSA at the official government site at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Other sites are not secure, and often charge fees to complete the application. Never pay to complete the FAFSA!
When you file the FAFSA, your financial information is automatically submitted to OSAC (Oregon Office of Access and Completion), which determines if students are eligible for the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) and Oregon Promise (OP). These are need-based grants for Oregon residents planning to attend Oregon colleges. More information about the OOG and OP can be found at these links:
CSS Profile The CSS Profile is an application used by many private colleges to grant institutional aid based on financial need. The CSS Profile is distributed by the College Board, and used by many private schools to get a closer look into the finances of a student and family. In addition to the FAFSA, which determines if a student qualifies for federal aid (a Pell Grant), these colleges use the CSS Profile to determine how to distribute their institutional aid based on financial need. The CSS Profile is much more extensive than the FAFSA, and if parents are divorced, requests financial information from both parents. Unlike the FAFSA (which is free), College Board charges a fee to complete the CSS Profile, and then an additional fee to send it to each school requested. Students who qualified for (and received) a fee waiver to take the SAT or to send scores to colleges, can get a waiver for CSS Profile fees.
Below are links with information about the CSS Profile. The first is a student guide; the second takes you to the College Board CSS Profile website, which provides extensive details on how to complete the application and FAQs: