Who Should File the FAFSA And CSS Profile?

  • Any US citizen or alien registration or permanent resident cardholders wanting to receive need-based aid who believes they might qualify
  • Anyone who thinks they may require financial aid at any point during their child’s undergraduate career. Many colleges will not consider a financial aid application from a matriculated student, admitted as a full-pay freshman if they did not originally submit the FAFSA when they applied for admission as a high school senior.
  • Anyone who expects to have two or more children in college at the same time, which significantly lowers the threshold for need-based eligibility
  • Anyone applying for merit aid at institutions (a few) that require either the FAFSA or PROFILE for consideration for such awards

Completing the FAFSA

In order to understand the financial aid aspect of college admission, parents who plan to apply for financial aid should visit the official website to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”). It is highly recommended that parents complete the FAFSA online. There are instructions available on the website to help parents answer the needed questions. The application goes live on October 1st and parents should complete the application and submit the application as soon as possible after that October 1st date. This application is meant to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. Please check out The Summit’s Financial Aid webinar video to understand how the financial aid process works.

What is the CSS Profile? Which Universities Require It?

In order to complete the CSS Profile, visit the official website.

This financial aid application is required by approximately 400 colleges and universities, nearly all private entities, that use the information to determine eligibility for their own institutional financial aid. The website lists which colleges and universities require the Profile. It is a fee-based service. The CSS Profile opens on October 1st. Parents should submit the application as soon as they possibly can so that the university has a completed CSS Profile for financial aid consideration.

Cal Grants

To qualify for California state financial aid, you can submit the FAFSA or the CA Dream Act Application.  The application can be found on this website. The Cal Grants application also requires the submission of a certified copy of the student’s GPA by the March 2nd deadline.

Make sure you apply for federal student aid as early as you can. Each school sets its own deadlines for campus-based funds. You can find a school’s deadline on its website or by asking someone in its financial aid office.


With the ever-changing admissions landscape, you will have an experienced counselor who will guide the student through high school, and help the student put forth a strong college application. With each family, I explain how the financial aid process works and I incorporate the family’s financial needs in the college admissions process. Want to learn more?