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FAFSA & Financial Aid

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Financial Aid!

Financial Aid can seem really overwhelming, but we are very fortunate in Maine to have some extremely helpful resources that help clarify this process.  In a nutshell, here are some brief facts and resources:

FSA ID:  Federal Student Aid ID
Before filing the FAFSA, each student and 1 parent/guardian must obtain an FSA ID. Essentially, this is a login and password students (and 1 parent/guardian) can use to sign the FAFSA electronically. We urge students/parents to DOCUMENT THEIR FSA ID and keep it somewhere safe, to use each October when filing a new FAFSA.  To obtain your FSA ID, go to this website:

FAFSA:  Free Application for Federal Student Aid
The FAFSA is an electronic form that students must submit every year they plan to enroll in college.  Each year, the new FAFSA is "open" on October 1.  Do NOT submit a FAFSA before October 1st!  The student applying for college and 1 parent/guardian must apply together--signing off on the same electronic FAFSA.  The FAFSA calculates a number of factors, including household income, in order to determine a student's EFC (expected family contribution), which colleges use to determine financial aid awards.

Every year, WSHS Guidance hosts an informational FAFSA night, where volunteers are on hand to help families with questions and to walk them through the FAFSA form.  In addition, families who need extra help based on unfamiliarity with the FAFSA OR complex family situations are encouraged to contact the Guidance Office.  We have an arrangement with a financial aid colleague who will come to WSHS and meet individually with families as needed to help process the FAFSA and to review financial aid award letters later on in the year.  If you need assistance, please ask!  THE SOONER A FAFSA IS SUBMITTED, THE BETTER. The FAFSA is always free.  Never pay to file a FAFSA!  To make the process as easy as possible, be sure to have your SSN available and your 2016 tax returns on hand for students applying to go to college in 2018-19.  Here is the official website:


CSS Profile
The CSS Profile is another electronic form required by some PRIVATE COLLEGES.  The Maine community college system, and the University of Maine system do not require the CSS Profile.  Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby are examples of Maine colleges that do require the CSS Profile.  Before you complete the CSS Profile, make sure that your college requires it....many do not.  To find out if a college requires the CSS Profile, just check the college's financial aid page or stop in Guidance to ask.

Asking questions and checking on financial aid
It is really important to follow the following steps:

1. Obtain an FSA ID
2. Complete a FAFSA; list all of your colleges
3. Complete a CSS Profile ONLY if required by your college
4.  Print the following documents and keep them safe:  FSA IDs, Student Aid Report from the FAFSA.

Other important categories, can't repeat enough.....
1.  CHECK THE COLLEGE'S FINANCIAL AID WEBSITE, AND CALL THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE WITH QUESTIONS!  If there are extra forms you need to submit, you want to make sure you meet all deadlines and communicate regularly with the financial aid office at your college/s.  They are there to help and answer questions!

Most colleges/universities communicate with students through email, or through a college portal.  Students will miss out on extremely important announcements unless they regularly check email.  It is wise to have a personal email account that you check; your AOS92 email will be purged at some point after you graduate.

3.  If any information changes--address, email address, phone number, etc.  Be sure to update your college, your FSA ID, your FAFSA and/or CSS, and your friendly neighborhood Guidance office!

4.  JUST ASK!  Please come in and ask if you have any questions about this.

Other great resources:

Finance Authority of Maine:  a great, free resource to get FAFSA, CSS, assistance and to get questions answered.  FAME is our go-to place for all financial aid questions.

Big Future:  tons of information about choosing a college, college costs, etc:

Understand student loans:  How long might it take you to repay loans?

Understanding the FAFSA Verification Process: 

Fantastic how-to videos can be found at FAME's youtube channel:  Easy, short, financial aid videos for Maine families

NY Times STUDENT DEBT CALCULATOR to gauge what your payments might be like when you graduate from college:  Student Debt Calculator
Lisa Hallen,
Jan 4, 2018, 4:42 PM