As we get closer to college application deadlines, I would like to encourage families to complete all the required financial aid forms on time. The FAFSA and CSS Profile applications for the 2023-2024 academic year open on October 1st. 

For those planning to submit college applications during the early decision, early action, or priority rounds, many colleges have a November 1st or November 15th financial aid deadline. A few are even as early as October 15th. Make sure you know your deadlines!

To get a better understanding of what forms are required and the deadlines, you should review the admissions or financial aid pages for each college. 

Please Note – These forms should be completed for high school seniors (12th graders), students who plan to enroll in college in August/September 2023, or those who are currently enrolled in college. 

Keep reading for more information on the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the gateway application that is required to be considered for federal grants and loans. 

Many families believe they may not qualify for need-based aid and choose not to complete the FAFSA. However, keep in mind that there are colleges that require the FAFSA to be completed for consideration for merit-based scholarship opportunities. Merit-based scholarships are typically tied to a student’s academic performance (grades/test scores) and demonstrated leadership abilities.

To get started on your 2023-2024 FAFSA, grab your 2021 taxes, and review the below resources.

What is the CSS Profile?

In addition to the FAFSA, there are about 400 colleges/universities that require the completion of an additional financial aid form called the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service PROFILE). The CSS Profile is used for consideration of any institutional aid that the college may be able to offer your student. 

Unlike the FAFSA which is free, the CSS Profile costs $25 to add the first college and $16 for each additional college. If your student qualified for an SAT/ACT application fee waiver or has free/reduced lunch, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. 

State Financial Aid Opportunities

Your state may be another source of financial aid. Many states offer need-based and merit scholarship/grant opportunities. 

Keep in mind that every college and state may not have the same financial aid deadlines. The earlier you apply, the better your chances are of receiving the most aid.

To review your state’s opportunities and to understand the requirements, visit

Here is a quick link to the state financial aid website based on the location of our blog subscribers.  

Have questions about financial aid? Please leave them in the comment section or contact us directly. 

Happy Filing!

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