College Bound

Students and Parents attend Bootcamp and filled out FAFSAFinancial Resources

Expected Family Contribution Calculator

Students and their families are expected to contribute to the cost of college to the extent that they’re able. Use this 2020-21 academic year Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator to:

  • Estimate how much the student’s family will be expected to contribute for the year. After all, you can’t make a realistic plan to cover the student’s share if you don’t have any idea what the student’s share could be.
  • Gain insight into the student’s financial aid eligibility. If you’re unable to contribute the entire cost of college, financial aid is available to bridge the gap. That's how the financial aid system works. The difference between the total cost and the student's EFC is considered the student's financial need and the amount of aid you’re eligible to receive.

Don't let the sticker price scare you. There are many ways to pay for college. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison provides this Net Price Calculator as a tool for early financial planning for college. The calculator is an approximation of federal and state aid eligibility for undergraduate students that plan to attend UW-Madison. This is for your information only and it is not an application for financial aid. (This calculator is availble for all to access, you do not have to be planning to attend UW-Madison to use it)

Financial Aid - FAFSA

All seniors, regardless of your family’s income, should complete this application, which will qualify you for grants, loans, scholarships and work-study. Many colleges require the FAFSA to be filled out in order to provide financial assistance or awards to students. The application opened on October 1 and should be completed as soon as possible. You’ll need to register for an FSA ID prior to completing the FAFSA. 


What is Federal Financial Aid?

Financial aid from the federal government can help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for this aid. Types of Federal Aid video is a helpful video that explains the difference between types of federal aid available to students. Additional information about federal student aid can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

Who Should Apply for Need-Based Financial Aid?

All students with a social security number (see your school counselor if you do not have a social security number and need support finding money for college) should apply for need-based financial aid. Many families mistakenly think they may not qualify for this type of aid based on their income and assets. However, if students choose not to apply for need-based financial aid, they may be closing the door on opportunities that could help pay for college, like scholarships from their college. There are other sources of financial assistance available regardless of need, but most require that the student file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) first.

What Do You Need With You To Fill Out the FAFSA?

  • Social Security Number/Alien Registration Card/Permanent Resident Card (a student needs a Social Security Number to fill out the FAFSA; however, a student's parents do not need one for the student to complete the FAFSA)
  • 2019 Federal Tax Return and W2
  • 2019 untaxed income records, such as child support or veteran's non-education benefits
  • Information on savings, investments, business assets and farm assets (if applicable)
  • Mobile phone (if you have one)
  • Parent(s)/Guardian(s) dates of birth
  • Month and year of parents' marriage, divorce or separation
  • FSA ID (if you have one). Visit to create an FSA ID (You will need this before completing the FAFSA) For help with this process, call 1-800-433-3243
    • Every student and at least one parent of a dependent student will need an FSA ID
    • If a parent already has an FSA ID or has more than one child attending college, the parent will use the same FSA ID to sign all applications, but each child must have their own FSA ID
    • Each FSA ID user must have a unique mobile phone number and/or email address

I was selected for FAFSA Verification, what does this mean? 

You might be notified that you’ve been selected for verification; or your college might contact you to inform you that you’ve been selected. Verification is the process your college uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA form is accurate. If you’re selected for verification, your college will request additional documentation that supports the information you reported.

Don’t assume you’re being accused of doing anything wrong. Some people are selected for  at random; and some schools verify all students' FAFSA forms. All you need to do is provide the documentation your school asks for—and be sure to do so by the school’s deadline, or you won’t be able to get financial aid. Below is information that can help you through the process. 

How Does A Student Apply For Need-Based Financial Aid?

  • The FAFSA is the form used to apply for need-based financial aid. The student must complete the FAFSA to apply for need-based grants, as well as for federal financial aid and other aid from colleges. Students must apply every year.
  • The FAFSA4caster is a tool designed to assist families to plan for education beyond high school.  Students can receive an estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by entering their information into FAFSA4caster, a simplified version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  FAFSA4caster also provides guidance on next steps for applying for admission, applying for federal student aid, and paying for education beyond high school. A Spanish version is available.

How Can We Get Help With the FAFSA? 

Is There a Deadline to Fill Out the FAFSA By? 

There is a not a formal deadline to filling out the FAFSA, you can do it anytime. However, most colleges have a "Preferred Filing Date". By completing the FAFSA by this date you are increasing your chances of receiving scholarships and aid from the colleges you are considering. 

ScholarshipsMandela Barnes and Tammy Baldwin present award to student

Scholarships are available for all kinds of students! This is FREE money that you do not have to pay back. MMSD lists all local scholarships on Xello (our Academic and Career Planning Website).

1. Log into your Xello Account (through your MMSD account)

2. Select College Planning

3. Search for Scholarships

Your college of choice will also have a website devoted to scholarships - in many cases you may have to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for these. Below are a few other places to start looking for free money for your education. 

Disclaimer - Do not pay money to apply for a scholarship. See your school counselor if you have questions about applying for the right scholarship for you. 


Loans are money that you DO have to pay back with INTEREST! Be sure you completely understand the terms and conditions of what you are signing before accepting loans. Your college's financial aid office can help you understand more about taking out loans. Filling out the FAFSA will determine if you are eligible for any loans. 


A grant is money given to you typically based on financial need, usually by the government, that you don’t have to pay back. Fill out the FAFSA to find out if you’re eligible for any grants.


While in college, you may consider getting a job on campus. Federal Work-Study (FWS) provides the opportunity to possibly get a part-time job easier for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. So, fill out the FAFSA to find out if you’re eligible for Work Study.

Reading Your Award Letter

After completing the FAFSA the college/s applied to will send the student an award letter that details what type of aid and how much financial aid a student is eligible for at that institution. Students can accept all the aid offered or can accept only what they need in order to pay for school. Your Financial Aid Award Explained is a good resource to understand your award letter. Your school counselor can also help explain what is on your award letter. Use the Compare Your Aid Awards tool to get a side-by-side comparison of your aid awards. Read about how to compare your aid awards and analyze your results.