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Financial Aid: To Apply or Not to Apply

Definition of Financial Aid:

  • A process to help bridge the gap between the family's resources and the cost of attendance (COA).
  • Families furnish the schools with information about their income and assets by submitting aid forms.
  • Schools review family's data to determine how much the family can afford to pay (expected family contribution- EFC).
  • If the family's expected contribution is less than the COA, there is a calculated financial need, and assistance is available.

(supplied by Sue Kim, San Francisco Bay Area Financial Aid Expert)

Connecticut College in Spring by College Find, College Admissions Counselors for Marin and NationwideFamilies are often confused about whether or not they should apply for financial aid. For some, it's an obvious yes because there is great need, while others worry that a college's perception of their need will be different than their own. Even families with a comfortable income ask if applying for financial aid will help or hinder their student in the college application process.

College Find believes the vast majority of families should apply for financial aid. Revealing your family's financial information insures:

  • Your ability to tap into appropriate state and school-based funds
  • Options for borrowing money (student and parent loans)
  • A college's ability to work with you should your financial picture suddenly change

Choosing the right college is a critical component to receiving the best aid possible. College Find works diligently to match your student to schools that will value the ability and interests that your student brings to a campus.

The Major Aid Forms:

FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid: A form required of all families seeking financial aid. It is available beginning January 1 of the year your student matriculates into college. It is best to submit this as early as possible. It takes students line-by-line through the financial aid filing process.

CSS Profile - A fee-based form that collects information some private colleges use to award non-federal student aid funds. Unlike the FAFSA, this form can be submitted in the fall of senior year.

Institutional Forms - An extra form found on some college financial aid websites that requests additional information from families. It is often used for college-specific scholarships.

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"I could not have been any happier with Gael's services. Everything about the entire process worked beautifully. She has a great and inviting office to meet in, her organizational level is extremely high and she was available beyond the call of duty to help me with questions and concerns. Above all, her knowledge of the schools and how to help a student zero in on what they want in a school was done in such an engaging and successful way.

I really don't think our son would have gotten into such a great school without her support. In addition, our son really trusted Gael and sought her out for help he would have never accepted from us."

~ Carla Burman (son, Julian, at Pitzer)

Bucknell University by College Find, College Admissions Counselors for Marin and Nationwide

Two of my children have worked with Gael during the college process. Gael understands the teenage brain, and is a calm and supportive ally during this sometimes turbulent time. Gael helped my son organize his search and focus in on his goals. He is currently a junior studying engineering at Gonzaga University. Gael coached my daughter through her essays and provided encouragement and feedback. She will begin her freshman year at Berkeley in the fall. 

~ Liz Murphy (son, Nate at Gonzaga, daughter, Clara, at UC Berkeley)


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