ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled College is saved to My Colleges.

Get Advice & Insights

Articles / Admissions / Is it Unlawful for College to Use Profile EFC and Not Federal?

May 19, 2020

Is it Unlawful for College to Use Profile EFC and Not Federal?

Question: My son did not receive any financial aid from the college he will attend, but he received a federal loan and work study. When a college offers financial aid based on need, and the FAFSA reflects a higher EFC amount than the CSS Profile, is this school, required by federal law to default to the higher FAFSA EFC amount in awarding its own aid? Since our CSS profile EFC is lower than the FAFSA EFC, the school stated they cannot award school grant money because by law, they are not allowed to. Is this correct?

Good question! The college can't give your son more FEDERAL aid than he's entitled to using the FAFSA EFC figure. (Not the college's, which apparently is lower.) So, if this college only awards Federal aid (e.g., Pell Grants, Federal loans) then, indeed, it would be unlawful for them to give your son anything else.


However, it would NOT be unlawful to use the CSS EFC to award the college’s own money over and beyond the level allowed by the FAFSA EFC.

(posted 4/29/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

A-Z College Forums

Browse the College Forums
C1E9D4E7-C4C9-4B28-8946-8F441A6D62B3

Find Your Best Fit

Find your best fit college and track your favorite colleges.