My Top Websites for Financial Aid Information

It’s that time of year again.  No, I’m not talking about the holiday season….I’m talking about  financial aid filing season!  The CSS Profile (which I wrote about in a recent blog post) is ready and waiting to be completed by those of you who are applying to those schools who require it, and the FAFSA’s availability is imminent (January 1).  So, in the spirit of giving, I thought I’d give you all my thoughts on some of the most useful financial aid websites that are out there.

Important Sites for FAFSA and CSS Profile 

FAFSAFree Application for Federal Student Aid.

FAFSA Worksheet: Worksheet to use before filling out the FAFSA.

FAFSA Forecaster:  Calculator that helps you estimate your financial aid.

FAFSA PIN Application: Apply for FAFSA PIN here.

CSS Profile Application:  Some schools require this application as well as the FAFSA.

Great Sites That Provide A Financial Aid Overview  This should be everyone’s first stop when they are initially trying to orient themselves to the world of financial aid.  It does a great job explaining every aspect of financial aid including information on loans, scholarships, and savings plans.  The site also provides users with various tools to help them estimate their potential college costs and Estimated Family Contribution.

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (   This site provides you with a whole host of useful information including an overview of the financial aid landscape, state-level financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and regional tuition discounts for which students may be eligible.  In addition to all kinds of other great information on the world of financial aid, Mapping Your Future provides some great tools to help you understand what you can afford to borrow.  Check out their Debt Wizard which shows you how much you can borrow based on your projected future earnings and their Student Loan Repayment Calculator which tells you what your loan payments will be and how much money you’ll need to earn to pay those loans back.  This is a great site for those concerned about the rising student debt situation in our country.  In particular, they provide a list of those schools who have pledged to either eliminate or limit loans in their financial aid packages.  Put out by Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, which is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation, this site provides a great foundation on financial aid with links to all things FAFSA-related.

Sites that Give Insight on Merit Aid

New York Times Tally of Schools That Provide Merit Aid:   A great big thank you to the New York Times who has published this list of the merit aid that schools have given out over the last few years and the percentage of students who receive it at each institution.

Thomas Jefferson High School Merit Scholarship Listing:  We stumbled upon this site, and we’re glad that we did!  Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia pulls together for its students a copious list of merit scholarships that are available at different colleges and universities across the country.

Invaluable Sites for International Students

International  For international students who are looking for help to finance their U.S. education, this website is invaluable.  Among their many pages, the site offers an option to explore by state which colleges provide financial aid to international students and how much they have historically provided on average.   Another great resource for international students.  This site gives tons of information on all aspects of attending school in the U.S., and their section on financial aid for foreign students is a must read for anyone from abroad considering studying in the U.S.

Looking for more assistance with your college search?   Give Montgomery Educational Consulting a call!

Andrea Aronson

College Admissions Consultant

Westfield, NJ


Published by Andrea Aronson

Leading our New Jersey office and based in Westfield, NJ, Andrea Aronson holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a certificate in college counseling from UCLA. As a marketing expert, she assists all students in presenting themselves in the best possible light.

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  1. Like preparing an income tax form, the federal student aid application (FAFSA) is complicated for some. Others aren’t sure when they prepare their application if they have made a mistake – a mistake that could boot them out of the virtual line for aid. Other people may not have the time or interest in preparing this 130+ questionnaire. Just like income taxes, the federal government offers two ways a student can prepare the form – either by themselves on the U.S. Dept. of Ed website, OR by getting fee-based professional help from a legitimate aid application preparation service.

    While legitimate firms, such as Student Financial Aid Services don’t charge a submission fee, they do apply a modest cost (less than $100) to ensure a student’s aid application is correctly prepared so the student receives the most financial aid possible to help make a college education more affordable. To ensure you’re getting assistance from a legitimate firm, check their Website about policies for not gaming the system, assisting low income students without charge, and client comments as well as the Better Business Bureau rating.

    Accuracy is essential and top-notch aid application preparers run a computer check of the 450 ways to make an error and have a professional read every answer. Some preparers have experts who speak multiple languages, a service that many parents of first-generation college students find helpful.

    Free FAFSA prep info is here:

    For those wanting to better understand financial aid, another good website is, which explains eligibility for military, federal, state and institutional aid and how financial aid system works. There’s also a lot of useful college-planning information on this website.

  2. For prospective college students, you can get a personalized estimate of how much financial aid to expect before you apply to any colleges by using colleges’ online Net Price Calculators. While some NPCs are much more accurate than others, at the very least you’ll get a rough estimate of how much each college you’re interested in will offer in free grants (aid you don’t have to repay). A college’s sticker price (Cost of Attendance) minus free grants equals Net Price.

    The most accurate Net Price Calculators offer much more personalized information to help students compare colleges’ affordability. Really accurate NPCs ask 30 to 40 questions, which takes about 8 to 12 minutes to answer. They provide students with not only reliable estimates of free grant aid and net price, but also their eligibility for military aid, work-study, federal education loans, and institutional scholarships. As a results students will know their out-of-pocket cost (the check you or your family writes while you’re in college) and what, if any, monthly loan repayment amount to expect.

    It is essential you prepare a federal student aid application (FAFSA) with the help of a fee-based professional service or by yourself on the US Dept. of Education’s website. But now incoming first-year students are provided greater college cost transparency so they can compare college deals and determine which colleges fit their academic and financial circumstances.

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