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Institutional Applications for Student Financial Aid

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In addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and, perhaps, the CSS Profile™ form, some schools require financial aid applicants to complete the school’s own financial aid applications or forms to determine eligibility for institutional aid.

The FAFSA is the only financial aid application form a student must complete to apply for federal student aid funds. With limited exceptions, students cannot be required to complete supplemental forms or applications to determine eligibility for federal student aid. Supplemental forms or applications are permitted only when used to collect additional information required for verifying the FAFSA or for resolving conflicting information. However, colleges may request supporting documentation from the student and/or family to confirm information provided on any financial aid applications or forms. However, if the additional collected information conflicts with information reported on the FAFSA, the discrepancy must be resolved before financial aid can be disbursed.

Colleges and universities may require the student to complete supplemental financial aid forms and applications for the purposes of awarding institutional or private student aid funds. Institutional aid applications allow colleges and universities to distribute scholarship and other financial aid from the school’s own resources. Some of these scholarships and financial aid programs have special data requirements that are not necessarily collected by the two national application forms, the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Some colleges use their own financial aid application instead of the CSS Profile.

Institutional financial aid application forms are often very detailed in their requests for data. For example, the school’s financial aid applications might ask questions about the student’s religious affiliation, academic major and previous employment history (if any). Some institutional financial aid application forms ask about any special circumstances the student and/or family does not believe were adequately explained on the FAFSA or the CSS Profile, such as unreimbursed medical/dental expenses, job loss and high dependent care costs for a special needs child or elderly parent.

To determine if a college or university requires its own aid application to be completed in addition to the FAFSA, students should review the aid application procedures and deadline dates posted on each college’s financial aid web site.

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