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CafeTrebleClefCafeTrebleClef Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
I have a few questions about the FAFSA form and CSS, and I'm sure anyone could easily tell that I really don't know anything about either of them:
1. if im starting college fall of 2012, do i fill out the 2011-2012 form or the 2012-2013 form?
2. im supposed to list the colleges applying to on the FAFSA form, so i guess this is a stupid question but if I still don't know which colleges I want to apply to, I can't fill out the FAFSA?
3. a. after I send the FAFSA form what happens? as far as I know, I get a thing called the SAR and do the colleges I listed on the form get a copy of the SAR too?
3. b. so I don't actually send the FAFSA to the colleges?
4. another stupid question: is the form found on Home - FAFSA on the Web-Federal Student Aid

For CSS:
1. what is the point of this if im filling out FAFSA? what's the difference between FAFSA and CSS?
2. there seems to be a limited number of schools that take this form? so if the college im applying to isn't on the CollegeBoard list of colleges that participates in the CSS process, i don't need to fill it out?
3. the CSS is not a free form?

Any help would be greatly apprectiated!
Post edited by CafeTrebleClef on

Replies to: FAFSA and CSS?

  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 20,920 Super Moderator
    1. if im starting college fall of 2012, do i fill out the 2011-2012 form or the 2012-2013 form?

    You would file the 2012-2013 FAFSA, which is not available until 1/1/2012. Regarding question 2, by 1/1/12, you will have a better idea as to what schools you are applying to and you will list them on your fafsa.

    Question 3. Yes, all schools you list on your FAFSA will get a copy of your SAR.
    1. what is the point of this if im filling out FAFSA? what's the difference between FAFSA and CSS?

    The FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid.

    To apply for student financial aid from the federal government based on the information submitted by the student and their parent(s). The FAFSA determines your eligiblity to receive federal aid : pell grants, seog grants (if applicable to your school) federal work study and federal student loans (subsidized/unsubsidized stafford loans and perkins loans). The FAFSA is required by all public colleges and universities and an overwhelming number of private schools require the FAFSA (some in addition to other FA forms).

    There will be a big difference between the EFC numbers your get for the FAFSA which only determines your eligibility for federal aid (pell grants and loans) and the CSS profile which is what the college uses to determine how they are going to distribute their institutional funds .

    If you attend a profile school, they use a combination of both the federal and institutional methodologies.

    At minimum you file the FAFSA (at almost every school) to determine your eligibility for federal aid (Pell/ seog grants, stafford and perkins loans). Most public univeristies will just require the fafsa (the exception may be UVA, UNC- CH, Mich and a few others which may require their own forms)

    The CSS profile is used at different colleges that distribute their own institutional aid (Many of these schools have much deeper pockets).

    Many schools that use a federal methodology to determine EFC will require only the FAFSA. Schools that use an instutional methodology or a combination of the 2 will require the CSS profile or their own FA forms.

    Differences between the IM and FM models are

    IM collects information on estimated academic year family income, medical expenses, elementary and secondary school tuition and unusual circumstances. FM omits these questions.

    IM considers a fuller range of family asset information, while FM ignores assets of siblings, all assets of certain families with less than $50,000 of income, and both home and family farm equity.

    FM defines income as the “adjusted gross income” on federal tax returns, plus various categories of untaxed income. IM includes in total income any paper depreciation, business, rental or capital losses which artificially reduce adjusted gross income.

    FM does not assume a minimum student contribution to education; IM expects the student, as primary beneficiary of the education, to devote some time each year to earning money to pay for education.

    FM ignores the noncustodial parent in cases of divorce or separation; IM expects parents to help pay for education, regardless of current marital status.

    FM and IM apply different percentages to adjust the parental contribution when multiple siblings are simultaneously enrolled in college, and IM considers only siblings enrolled in undergraduate programs.

    The IM expected family share represents a best estimate of a family’s capacity (relative to other families) to absorb, over time, the costs of education. It is not an assessment of cash on hand, a value judgment about how much a family should be able to use current income, or a measure of liquidity. The final determinations of demonstrated need and awards rest with the University and are based upon a uniform and consistent treatment of family circumstances.

    Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, Colleges classifies incoming students as dependent upon parents for institutional aid purposes, even though some students may meet the federal definition of “independence.”

    The profile will take into consideration tuition for children attending high school. They may consider school expenses outside of high school for special needs children. They will consider unreimbursed medical expenses and taking care of elderly parents.

    Students enrolling as dependent students are considered dependent throughout their undergraduate years when need for institutional scholarships is determined.

    For institutional aid purposes a student may not “declare” independence due to attainment of legal age, internal family arrangements, marriage or family disagreements.

    Your COA (cost of attendance) is tuition, room board, books travel expenses and some misc. expenses associated with attending college.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 20,920 Super Moderator
    The CSS profile is not free. There are fees involved in filing.

    You are charged an application fee of $9, plus $16 for each college or scholarship program to which you want information sent. A limited number of fee waivers are granted automatically to first-year, first-time citizen — or eligible non-citizen applicants — from low-income families, based on the financial information provided on the PROFILE.


    Info regarding CSS Profile fee waivers

  • annasdadannasdad Registered User Posts: 4,827 Senior Member
    In both cases, for fall 2012 admission, you fill out the 2012-13 forms. The 2012-13 FAFSA will become available January 1; the CSS PROFILE is available now.

    FAFSA qualifies you for federal student aid. Every college that participates in federal aid programs (99%+ of the colleges in the U.S.) require it if you are to be considered for need-based aid.

    Many colleges also use the information you provide on FAFSA to assess your eligibility for institutional need-based aid.

    Some colleges - generally (but not exclusively) the more selective, expensive, and generous colleges - also require the CSS PROFILE. They want more in-depth information than the FAFSA provides to base their decisions on.

    If none of your schools require CSS PROFILE, then you fill out only FAFSA.

    The CSS PROFILE is not a free form - $25 for the first college, $16 thereafter, although they will waive the fee if you are very low income.
  • CafeTrebleClefCafeTrebleClef Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
    I now understand the difference between FAFSA and CSS and a little more about FAFSA in general - thank you all so much for the help! (especially sybbie719 for alllll that info!)

    I am now confused about how the college determines and let's students know how much aid they'd recieve. I thought the amount of aid the students recieves comes with the acceptance letter. But if a student does Early Action or Early Decision, then he/she couldn't have filled in the FAFSA form, so how could the university let him/her know how much aid he'd/she'd be receiving?
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 20,920 Super Moderator
    If a student does early action, they will most likely not get a financial aid package until late march/ early april since they do not have to make a decision until may 1.

    For ED, which is binding, there will be some FA forms to fill out. IF it is a profile school, they will submit the profile and then submit the FAFSA on 1/1. Keep in mind the ED financial award can be adjusted once the school receives your actual numbers.
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