The Darien High School Guidance Department strives to provide optimal educational planning through individually guided course selection, personal assistance with the college selection process, student training in study skills, and awareness of summer enrichment programs, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities while providing parents and teachers with information to help in our joint endeavors of assisting the development of the individual student


An Overview of Finacial Aid

Financial aid is help for students enrolled in eligible programs at participating schools to cover school expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

Aid typically comes from three sources:  the state, the federal government, and from the college. 

The three most common types of Federal aid (government sponsored programs) are grants, loans, and work-study.

Grants are a type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Generally, the grant amount is based on need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status. Federal Pell Grants for the 2007-2008 school year will range from $400 to $4,050. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants will range from $100 to $4,000.
Two new federal grants, the Academic Competitiveness Grant and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant), are available starting with the 2006-2007 school year.

Loans are borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Maximum loan amounts depend on the student's year in school. Parents may also borrow to pay education expenses for dependent undergraduate students up to their cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance.

Work-study lets you earn money while enrolled in school to help pay for education expenses.

Most federal aid is based on the financial need of the family.

In order to qualify for financial aid, students and parents must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available at  DO NOT use the website FAFSA is free, and this site charges a significant fee to submit on your behalf.  The FAFSA must be completed in a brief window, between January 1 and February 15 of the senior year.

In addition to federal aid, students may qualify for aid from individual colleges and universities. In addition to loans and work study, colleges offer aid in the form of Grants (described above) and Scholarships.  Scholarships are similar to grants in that they are “free money”—you are not required to repay them.  Scholarships are granted not on the basis of financial need, but rather based on achievement or talent. 

Some colleges require more information than is collected on the FAFSA.  Most of these colleges require students to complete the CSS Profile (  There is a fee (per college) to submit the profile, but unlike the FAFSA, the Profile can be submitted early in the process, once the student has a final list of colleges.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Notes for questions 42 and 43 (student assets/investments) and 90 and 91 (parent asset/investments):

Investments include real estate (do not include the home you live in), trust funds, UGMA and UTMA accounts, money market funds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, stocks, stock options, bonds, other securities, installment and land sale contracts (including mortgages held), commodities, etc.”

Investments also include qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts (e.g. Coverdell savings accounts, 529 college savings plans and the refund value of 529 prepaid tuition plans).  For a student who does not report parental information, the accounts owned by the student (and/or the student’s spouse are reported as student investments in question 42. For a student who must report parental information, the accounts are reported as parental investments in question 90, including all accounts owned by the student and all accounts owned by the parents for any member of the household.

Investments do not include the home you live in, the value of life insurance, retirement plans (401[k] plans, pension funds, annuities, non-education IRAs, Keogh plans, etc.) or cash, savings and checking accounts already reported in questions 41 (value of student’s cash, savings, checking accounts) and 89 (value of parent’s cash, savings, checking accounts).

Investments also do not include UGMA and UTMA accounts for which you are the custodian, but not the owner. 

Investment value means the current balance or market value of these investments as of today (the day you file the FAFSA).  Investment debt means only those debts that are related to the investments.

Here is the link to the EFC explanation/calculation:

You may also wish to apply for a scholarship. The list is available from the College and Career Center Website. Scholarship List