We have additional posts explaining the depths of college financial aid (here) but we wanted to answer one common question very simply…. do you NEED to apply for financial aid? Yes! Let us explain…
We encourage all families to apply for financial aid for at least the first year of college. After the student decides which college they will attend, you can inquire with the school to see if the forms will be needed for subsequent years.
All schools accept the FAFSA, and certain schools require an additional financial aid form called the CSS Profile for institutional aid eligibility. There are schools that will need one or both forms, even if the student is only considering eligibility for merit based aid. It is best to submit the forms by the schools’ financial aid deadlines to ensure all bases are covered and that your student has the maximum eligibility for aid.
Even if you do not think your family will qualify for need based aid, the FAFSA will need to be submitted if the student will be using the federal student loans, or if the parents will be using the federal parent loan to help pay for school.