As we start the new school year, seniors should start working on the college applications. And at the end of October, parents will need to complete financial aid forms. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is available on October 1 but we recommend sitting on the sidelines for at least 10 – 14 days so the Dept. of Education can work out the bugs on the new release every year.
As I have mentioned before, this is an important process for ALL families to complete, even if you don’t expect to get any need-based financial aid. Merit-based money is often accessed through the need-based door. So while your student is busy completing admissions applications, you should be busy filing the family’s FAFSA and CSS Profile.
The Department of Education puts out some good videos to give you an overview of the process. They also have a website dedicated to financial aid: studentaid.gov.
This is an exciting and stressful time for families with seniors. So, take a deep breath and remember that getting into college is not the end goal. It is the start of the process of adulthood and independence for our children.
If you would like help navigating the financial aid process, interpreting the award letters in the college’s admissions portal, evaluating the awards based on the school’s historical standards, or plan to appeal an award with the school’s office of Financial Aid, we can help!