Financial aid and scholarships:
Determining financial need
Many colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for college-based financial aid. To obtain federal student aid, you must complete the FAFSA. Some also use the CSS PROFILE application, sponsored by the College Scholarship Service, to determine institutional aid. Check with the colleges of your choice to see which of these forms you must complete.
By using these forms, the college comes up with your estimated family contribution (EFC). Subtracting the EFC from the total cost of college (tuition and fees and, if applicable, room and board) often leaves a student with a remaining amount that needs to be covered. This remaining amount can sometimes be partially or fully covered by scholarships and need-based aid.
After awarding any scholarships for which the student may be eligible, the school looks for grants, loans and work-study programs that can be applicable to help fill that gap. Students should also conduct their own search for additional scholarships and financial aid. Although schools will work to offer the best financial aid package they can, it is ultimately the responsibility of the students and/or family to cover the costs associated with attending a college or university.