BOSTON (CBS) – The first step in finding financial aid is to meet with the guidance counselor and see what recommendations they have. Then you and your kid get online and check out resources. Then fill out the, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the federally required form for students seeking financial aid, including grants and loans. 

Financial Aid money comes from the Federal government, the states, colleges and private organizations and comes in different forms. Grants and scholarships that don’t need to be repaid, jobs so the kiddo can earn money, and a variety of loans and tax breaks.

Where to find the aid is up to the student and the family. There are good resources for financial aid out there:

  • High school counseling office
  • Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)
  • Colleges’ financial aid office
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • Community groups & religious organizations for private scholarships

The official FAFSA site is at – it’s not a “.com” website. If you go to a “.com” site you will probably be asked to pay to submit the FAFSA form.

Over 350 schools also use the CSS PROFILE Financial Aid Form, produced by the College Board. “CSS” stands for College Scholarship Service. This form is used by colleges for determining non-federal financial aid, such as institutional scholarships, grants, and loans. There is a cost for filing the CSS form.

The financial aid form needs to be filled out every year you are requesting aid. The information on the form determines what your family can afford to pay, your expected family contribution. The school’s financial aid departments also use the information in putting together the aid packages that comes in the award letter once the kiddo is accepted to their school.

Your income stream is what the schools are looking at as well as your assets. They expect you to pay a big chunk out of current income. If your income is over $100,000, it will be tough to qualify for grants unless you have more than one child attending college.

One more thing:   A good resource would be the Peterson’s Guide. When my kids went to college we bought the book, now just go online.

How does Financial Aid work and where does it come from?  A couple more sites to help in your research:  offers an overview for applying for aid application for financial aid an estimate for your eligibility for aid lists of scholarships available