How to Fill Out the FAFSA

Financial Aid - FAFSA and CSS

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

  • FAFSA opens up October 1st of the year before applicants will be attending school. Be sure to check for deadlines for specific schools 
  • FAFSA needs to be refilled every year for students to continue to get aid 
  • Some schools offer more or less financial aid than others,  don’t rely solely on FAFSA 
  • Applicants with divorced parents may file under ONE PARENT ONLY 

How is CSS Different from FAFSA? 
Whereas FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid, the CSS profile is used by some colleges as a private survey to determine institutional aid

  • If you are filling out CSS, you also need to fill out a FAFSA, however not every school necessarily requires you to fill out the CSS 
  • The CSS is more often required by private universities
  • The CSS form generally requires MORE information about a families finances than FAFSA does

CSS Profile

  • Unlike FAFSA, applicants with divorced parents filling out CSS are required to file under both the parent they live with AND their “non-custodial parent” 
  • Individuals filing out a CSS profile are required to create a College Board account 
  • Not all schools require CSS, but even when filling out CSS, FAFSA should also be completed 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

What You Need to Know About Applying for Scholarships

  • Most scholarships are based on MERIT, this means that students should focus on their academic performance and extracurriculars and community service 
  • Lottery scholarships make sure that everyone who enters has an equal chance of winning 
  • Community service is a major factor in standing out for scholarships, it also reflects a student's positive attributes and good values 
  • If you do not meet the criteria for a scholarship, it is not recommended that you apply at all (anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements is typically disqualified immediately) 
  • It is often better to start looking for scholarships before your senior year (mid junior year is ideal) 
  • Quality and perspective of an essay is more important than just technicalities 
  • You can apply for scholarships after you’ve already started college
  • Be sure to look for scholarships outside of those allotted just through a specific school 
  • Make sure to look at the percentage of students who receive financial aid at specific schools (this results varies, regardless of a students financial situation, some schools offer more money than others)  

Individual Scholarships

TheDreamUS Scholarship provides college scholarships to DREAMers who would like to get a college education but cannot afford it. Deadlines vary.


Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition Students compete for this award by writing and recording an audio essay on a patriotic theme. The 2020-21 theme is "Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?"The first-place winner gets a grand prize of $30,000 as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC. The program gives out a total of $2.1 million in awards and incentives each year. Due October 31, 2021

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Coca-Cola Scholars are judged primarily on their academic performance, extracurricular activities, leadership experience, and community service. This scholarship program  gives out 150 awards of $20,000 each.  Due October 31, 2021

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship Submit an online written response to the question: "Imagine that your high school or college has been overrun with zombies. Your math professor, the cafeteria ladies, and even your best friend have all joined the walking dead. Flesh out a plan to avoid the zombies, including where you’d hide and the top-five things you’d bring to stay alive." (250 words or less) One winner will receive $2000.  Due October 31, 2021


UFT / Albert Shanker College Scholarship Fund is open to graduating NYC public school students. Students may be eligible for a $5,000 award (spread over 4 years). Due December 31, 2021

Dell Scholars offers financial support of $20,000, a laptop, and textbook credits in addition to services and solutions to address individual and systemic issues that can create major barriers to student success. Due December 1, 2021


Profiles in Courage Essay Contest is open to High School students in grades 9-12. Students must describe and analyze an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917. First place winner will receive $10,000, second place receives $3,000, 5 finalists receive $1,000. Due January 14, 2022

APIASF General Scholarship (The Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund) offers applicants scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $20,000. Due January 26, 2022


AEF Scholarship awards scholarships to immigrant students and children of immigrants who are graduating from a New York City high school to attend public or private colleges and universities, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status. Scholarship is for $20,000. Due February 2, 2022


Horatio Alger Scholarship Award
 This need-based scholarship is geared toward students who have faced and overcome great obstacles. To be considered eligible, your gross adjusted family income must be at or below $55,000. At the national level, there are 106 $25,000 awards; there are also state scholarships that range between $6,000 and $10,000. Due March 15, 2022


American Fire Sprinkler Association Contest For high school seniors who plan to further their education at a college, university, or certified trade school in the United States. Scholarship is for $2,000. Due April 1, 2022

The Bayside High School Alumni Fund for Queens College Students provides scholarships to students who are interested in pursuing their undergraduate degree at Queens College.  This fund awards generous scholarships to deserving students who have demonstrated high academic merit.  Recipients will receive the scholarship ($1,500-$3,000) for four consecutive years. If you are interested, please contact your guidance counselor.


1 Do-Over Scholarship For students who want to reflect on past mistakes and how they could have done things differently.  Scholarship is for $1,500. Due June 30, 2022