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  • Writer's pictureNeil Chacko, CFP®, CKA®

How Do I Get Financial Aid for My College Bound Child?

By Neil Chacko, CFP®, CKA®

If you seek need-based aid for your child, you’ll need to file at least one financial aid application and that would be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Roughly 20 million Americans file this form every year. Here is a breakdown on why colleges and universities require families to complete the FAFSA:

1. The federal government relies on the information in the FAFSA to determine who qualifies for federal grants. It is also necessary to obtain federal student and parent college loans.

2. States require completion of the FAFSA to be eligible for state financial aid grants.

3. Most colleges and universities use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their own in-house, need based financial aid.

You can find the online application on the FAFSA website: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa


The CSS Profile

The CSS Profile is the College Board’s financial aid application that roughly 200 colleges and universities use. Nearly all the schools that use the CSS Profile are private, but a few of them are state institutions. For a full list of these schools, you can visit

These schools use this secondary application in addition to the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their own institutional aid. A student that is applying to one of these institutions would need to complete both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile digs deeper into the finances of a family than the FAFSA does. Some institutions that use the CSS Profile ask questions such as what kind of cars the family drive.


All CSS Profile schools rely on the FAFSA to determine which of their applicants will qualify for federal and/or state financial assistance.


The CSS Profile can be found here: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/

If you have further questions about these documents or other questions about the college financial aid landscape, feel free to schedule a quick call on my calendar at the below link:


In next month’s blog, I will cover how investments and other assets that are owned by parents, or the child would affect financial aid.




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