FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

College can be an expensive investment, but there are several resources to help make it an affordable one! Most importantly, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by virtually all two and four-year colleges, universities, and career schools for the awarding of federal student aid and most college aid. Filling out the FAFSA is an important first step in determining the amount you and your family can expect to contribute to your college education.

Once you complete your FAFSA and send it to colleges you have applied to, you will receive Financial Aid Packages. Financial Aid Packages typically list awarded grants, work-study, and loans. A grant is free money based on need that doesn't need to be paid back. Work study is when you get paid to work on campus to help pay for college expenses such as textbooks. A loan is borrowed money that must be paid back starting 6 months after graduation.

The FAFSA can be a confusing application, but there are several workshops around Philadelphia that can help you complete it! Scroll down to the Local Workshops section to find one near you!

  1. Fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) - for Government Loans
    FAFSA Reference Guide
    Federal Student Aid at a Glance
    FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
  2. Fill out your PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) application
  3. Lists of Grants and Scholarships from Graduate! Philadelphia
  4. CSS Profile
  5. Federal Financial Aid
  6. Financial Aid Videos
  7. PhillyGoes2College - Paying for College Tips

Scholarship Resources

Scholarships are a great way to ease the burden of college tuition! They often require essays, transcripts, or a letter of recommendation, but the effort is always worth it. Use the following resources to help you find local and national scholarships.

Scholarship Search Tools

Scholarship Search Tailoring to All High School Students (Organized by Grade Levels)

Local Scholarships

Major Scholarships

Minor Scholarships

Contests and Awards

Nursing/Healthcare Scholarship Websites

Scholarships for African American and other Minority Students

Travel Scholarships

Post-Secondary Scholarships


The PROFILE is an online application form, created by the College Board's College Scholarship Service (CSS), which collects student information for certain colleges and scholarship programs to use to award institutional aid funds. It is different from the FAFSA since the latter is used to apply for federal aid funds. The PROFILE is currently used by nearly 400 institutions to award financial aid such as scholarships and grants.

Before you apply, check out the following guides on how to prepare the application:

The application process involves three easy steps: register an account, complete the online application, and submit it. You should sign in to College Board to access the PROFILE registration and application.

While you apply, you may refer to the detailed instructions for completing PROFILE online.

College Board Net Price Calculator

The Net Price Calculator is a tool that you can use to estimate your "net price" to attend a particular college or university. Net price is the difference between the "sticker" price (full cost) to attend a specific college, minus any grants and scholarships for which you may be eligible. Sticker price includes direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) and indirect costs (books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses).

Here are other relevant resources you can find at College Board:

Net price is the key to understanding what a specific college is likely to cost, and allows you to better compare your out-of-pocket expenses from one college to another. It can help you widen your college choices beyond those institutions that you think you can afford. It is possible that your net cost will be lower at a college with a high sticker price or higher at a college with a lower sticker price. You may find that some colleges you thought were financially out of your reach may be very affordable.