Paying for College

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)