This type of assistance is for families who cannot pay the entire cost of attending a particular college. Families must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as October 1st of the student's senior year in high school. The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible after this date because need-based aid is awarded on a first come first served basis. Click here to go to the online FAFSA application.
How Does Need-Based Aid Work?
The student and parents both complete the appropriate sections on the FAFSA form. The government uses the information from this form to determine how much the family can afford to pay for college during the next school year. This fixed amount is called the expected family contribution (EFC). Each college the student applied to has a different cost of attendance (tuition, room & board, books, fees, etc.). The difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution equals that family's financial need. Example:
||Cost of Attendance
||EFC (always fixed)
For College B there is no financial need because the family is able to afford the entire cost of attendance for that school year. There is a financial need of $25,000 for College A, which the college will then attempt to meet through any or all of the following:
Grants - gift aid which never needs to be repaid.
Scholarships - also gift aid which does not require repayment either.
Loans - several different types of loans are available, but all have to by repaid.
Work Study - money earned from part-time jobs on or off campus is put towards the cost of attendance.
Financial Aid Resources of the Internet
College Goal Wisconsin - get help filling out the FAFSA
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
FAFSA Pin Number
U.S. Department of Education - Federal Student Aid Guide
School Codes for FAFSA
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT Tool)
6 Ways Colleges and Universities Award Financial Aid