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Applying for Financial Aid

What forms and documents do I need to submit to apply for financial aid?

All students applying for federal financial aid are required to complete the FAFSA each year.  All students applying for Wake Forest need-based scholarships are required to complete the CSS PROFILE.  While the CSS PROFILE is not required if only applying for federal financial aid, to be considered for all available sources of financial aid, students should complete both forms.  In addition, parents and students must submit signed copies of federal income tax returns (including all schedules, W-2 wage statements, partnership tax returns and schedules, and S corporation tax returns and schedules).  If either the student or parent did not file a tax return in the previous year, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to obtain a non-tax return filer form.

If my parents are separated or divorced, do they both need to submit financial information?

Yes. Wake Forest’s policy for determining need is based on the principle that both parents have a responsibility to contribute to the costs of education. We therefore need financial information from both households. The custodial parent and current spouse (if applicable) should complete the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA applications. The noncustodial parent and current spouse (if applicable) should complete the CSS Noncustodial Profile. Both parents and stepparents are required to submit copies of W-2 wage statements and income tax returns, including all schedules, to verify reported income.

Where do I obtain the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE applications?

The online FAFSA application is available at The paper version is available at most secondary schools and colleges. The FAFSA school code for Wake Forest is 002978.

The online CSS PROFILE application may be accessed at The CSS PROFILE school code for Wake Forest is 5885.


What is the difference between the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE?

The CSS PROFILE is used to determine eligibility for institutional funds, while the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal aid. There are variations in the way the two applications gather information and evaluate criteria to determine need. The CSS PROFILE was developed by the College Scholarship Service of the College Board and is the primary tool used by many private institutions to determine the expected family share of costs for education. In evaluating a family’s ability to pay educational expenses, the CSS PROFILE follows what is known as institutional methodology (IM). The information is used to determine how need-based funding will be awarded from the resources of the institution. The FAFSA follows federal methodology (FM) and is used solely to determine eligibility for federal aid, including Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Work-Study jobs. Both applications are necessary to establish eligibility for all available sources of financial aid.

What are the due dates for applying for financial aid? When can I expect to hear about my award?

Incoming freshmen and transfer students must submit the CSS PROFILE between October 1 and February 15. The FAFSA must be completed between January 1 and February 15. All income tax documents must be submitted to CSS IDOC by March 1. Students who meet the March 1 priority deadline should receive notification of eligibility for financial aid by mid-April.

Returning students must complete the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA by March 1, and submit all tax documents to CSS IDOC by April 1. Returning students who meet the April 1 priority deadline will be notified of financial aid awards by mid-June.

Scholarships and Grant funds may be limited after these deadlines. As a result, students who complete their financial aid application after these published deadlines may find that their financial aid award is weighted more heavily toward need-based loans than need-based scholarships.

Do we need to have our taxes completed to file the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA applications?

No. Students and families may complete both applications using reasonable estimates of income. Before a final award can be made, however, completed tax documents must be submitted to CSS IDOC, in order that we can verify the information reported on your financial aid applications. At that time, the information on the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA will be adjusted to reflect actual figures and calculate your eligibility for aid.

If I am not able to provide all of the materials by the deadlines, will I lose the opportunity to receive financial aid?

Financial aid awards cannot be made until all necessary documentation is received. Since a financial aid award may determine a student’s ability to attend Wake Forest, all students are encouraged to meet the priority deadlines. By submitting the materials by the deadlines, students maximize their chances to be considered for the full range of gift aid, including a variety of need-based scholarships.

Do I need to reapply for financial aid each year?

Yes. All returning students must reapply for aid each year by submitting the FAFSA (for federal aid) and the CSS PROFILE (for Wake Forest need-based aid) by March 1, and sending all required US income tax documents to CSS IDOC by April 1.  (If you are only applying for federal financial aid funds, then you do not have to complete the CSS Profile.)

Will I receive the same financial aid award for all four years?

The total dollar amount of financial aid awards is based on need. Any change in family circumstances, such as an increase or decrease in parents’ or student’s income, assets, family size, or number of family members attending college, may affect eligibility for financial aid. If the family’s circumstances do not change significantly over four years, the financial aid package should be comparable each year.