Financial aid is a key piece of the college puzzle for many families. The sticker price of college in the US has gone up in the past decades, virtually across the board. What that means is financial aid is an increasingly important tool for a growing number of families in sending their kids through college. But the process of qualifying for financial aid isn’t easy, and many families who could receive financial aid might end up taking out large loans or digging out their savings to pay for their kid’s or grandkid’s college education.
The reason for this may come down to the different forms that are required to be completed and submitted to qualify for financial aid. So, what are the key pieces of information you need to fill out your financial aid forms? In order to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, you’ll need the following items according to the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education: Your Social Security number or Alien Registration Number if you are not a US Citizen, your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned, bank statements and record of investments (if applicable), records of untaxed income (if applicable), and an FSA ID to sign electronically.
In addition, some colleges require an additional, more detailed financial aid form as well. This one is called the College Scholarship Service or CSS Profile. The form is 20 pages long and is a more comprehensive qualifying document which can make it even harder to obtain financial aid, even if you should be qualifying. Only 400 colleges use this financial aid form, but of those 400 are some of the nation’s top colleges and universities that provide considerable amounts of financial aid, so check with your kid or grandkid to see if any of the colleges on their list require a CSS Profile and prepare just in case.
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