The Application Process

Every school has its own process for administering financial aid, so be sure to contact each school to determine their requirements.

If you are applying to any of the more than 2,100 schools that use School and Student Services (SSS) to determine aid eligibility, you can complete one application and your information will be sent to all the SSS participating schools you specify.

  1. Contact the financial aid office at each school to which you're applying and ask for financial aid application instructions. If the school uses SSS, you can find the Parent’s Financial Statement (PFS).
  2. Fill in all requested information including family size, total income, savings, investments, debts, medical and dental expenses, any unusual expenses, and other assets, such as home equity. The PFS form includes step-by-step instructions, and you can call the toll-free helpline at 800-344-8328. 
  3. Indicate which schools should receive your information on the PFS. 
  4. Submit your PFS before the deadline. If you are applying to several schools, submit your PFS before the earliest financial aid deadline.
  5. Submit any additional information required by the schools. Some schools may ask for a copy of your income tax return or other information. Find out whether you should send these documents to SSS or directly to the school.
  6. SSS will analyze the information on your PFS and estimate your family’s ability to contribute to educational expenses.
  7. SSS sends a Report of Family Contribution to each school you specified. You may also request that SSS send you a copy of this form.
  8. Each school will notify you about financial aid awards. Every school calculates its own financial aid award decision, so even if you receive no aid from one school, you may get a grant from another. Look for award notices in late March or April.