#038 How to Get Financial Aid Now

Show Notes


Financial aid season is upon us yet again. However, if you’ve got a high school student who is entering college, don’t hit ‘submit’ on your FAFSA or CSS Profile applications just yet. You’ll want to be sure to listen to Stuart Siegal, founder of Financial Aid Now, for his advice on everything you need to know to maximize your child’s aid. He also offers some keen insight into common mistakes you as parents might make on the FAFSA or other forms, which can wind up costing you thousands in potential aid.


Like many other parents sending their first child to college, Stuart Siegal struggled to maximize the potential of his oldest’s financial aid applications. However, unlike many others, Stuart was also a licensed financial planner. So to prepare for his next children’s applications, he supplemented his existing knowledge with in-depth research to learn how to make the most of the available financial aid. Now, he uses his system, Financial Aid Now, to help other parents avoid the same mistakes he made the first time.

However, you don’t need to have the same financial background as Stuart to help your child qualify for generous financial aid (though it can certainly help understand the forms and jargon!). As I spoke with Stuart on this episode, it became clear to me that the most important thing is to simply carefully read the instructions, instead of making assumptions. It’s really easy to make mistakes, so do your own research, don’t guess if you’re unsure of how to answer a field, and ask an expert if you need more help!

Stuart gives a great overview of the many acronyms that relate to college financial aid. Everything from the FAFSA, CSS, and DRT are covered. This is a discussion anyone with high school and college-aged children can benefit from listening to. Even if your family is more affluent, there are still aid opportunities and you’ll want to learn how to make the most of it.


  • Understand the process for getting financial aid
  • What’s the difference between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile for financial aid
  • Avoiding common mistakes while filing for financial aid
  • Learn financial aid acronyms
  • Learn about states that require FAFSA completion 

Meet Our Guest

Financial Aid isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard, either. I didn’t invent the rainy day. I just own the best umbrella.

25 years ago when I was getting ready to send my children to college, I didn’t know how to navigate the financial aid process.

After spending 30+ hours trying to figure it out I sent in the forms, only to be let down by the amount we received. Fortunately, I was a licensed financial planner and buried myself in books and thousands of pages of financial aid rules and regulations. And I have to admit learning over ten thousand pages of congressional language (Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 1965 and subsequent updates) was painful. But I learned more than enough to win more money for my other two and that made up for what I lost on Child #1.

Over a few years of study, I learned from financial aid professionals, admissions counselors, and others to earn. a reputation as the Financial Aid Negotiator. From then on, I started doing for others exactly what I did for myself. I learned how to unlock tens of thousands of dollars–dollars that I thought were out of reach for families like mine. After a quarter of a century, my colleagues have come to see me as their GO-TO financial aid consultant.

The FAFSAsoft EZ File System that I designed has allowed me the opportunity to help tens of thousands of families navigate the financial aid process and access millions of dollars in free aid.

Listen on…the Flourish Site, Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite platform. 

“College & Career Clarity with Lisa is so helpful!”  ← Is that you? If so, please consider rating and reviewing my show so I can resource more families and eliminate overwhelm. Thank you!!

Links mentioned in this episode


Financial Aid Now Website

Episode 36: How To Know If A College Is Giving Their Best Price

List of CSS Profile Schools 

FAFSA Website

Launch College & Career Clarity Course

Launch College and Career Clarity Facebook Community

Financial Aid Acronyms:

COA: Cost of Attendance

EFC: Expected Family Contribution

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

SAR: Student Aid Report


[5:00] Introduction to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

[6:23] What is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

[10:17] Common errors families make when completing the FAFSA

[16:12] Explanation of the CSS Profile

[20:02] The biggest mistake that parents make with their children’s financial aid applications

[21:32] What does DRT mean?

[23:34] The art of negotiation

[25:30] The TurboTax of financial aid applications

Access the episode transcript here.