Financial Aid

Click here for definitions for common financial aid terms.

The Massachusetts Educational Financial Authority (MEFA) is a non-profit organization that strives to make college more accessible and affordable for Massachusetts students and families. MEFA helps families, plan, save and pay for college.

Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid. FAFSA is the application used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine eligibility for federal, state and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.

The CSS PROFILE is required by some private colleges and universities to determine eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution's own grants, loans and scholarships.

The biggest differences between the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA are:
  • Specific questions: The CSS PROFILE contains questions specific to the school or program you're applying to; FAFSA contains the same questions for everyone.
  • Different methodology: The CSS PROFILE determines your financial need differently than the FAFSA, taking into account such factors as whether your family owns a home. In general, the CSS PROFILE asks for more detailed information than FAFSA.
  • Minimum student contribution: The CSS PROFILE requires this; the FAFSA doesn't.
  • Greater reliance on professional judgment: The CSS PROFILE gives financial aid counselors greater freedom to grant aid based on a student's particular circumstances.
  • Cost: CSS PROFILE costs $25 plus $16 for each school or scholarship program selected; the FAFSA, as the name implies, is free.

To access the CSS PROFILE click HERE

My College Cost Calculator
This website allows families to compare college costs by factoring in financial aid and viewing the resulting net price.

Loan Payment Calculator
This website displays the monthly loan payment amount and total loan cost (based on the amount families plan to borrow) for each MEFA loan repayment type.

AG’s Office Partners with uAspire to Help Students Understand Financial Aid Award Letters

            BOSTON – As colleges and universities begin sending financial aid award letters to prospective students throughout Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey has launched a campaign to help educate families about their higher education options and understand how to pay for them. 

            Last year, the AG’s Office and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce created a Student Debt Working Group to develop concrete proposals to help Massachusetts students pursue quality, affordable higher education. This new initiative is the result of a partnership between the AG’s Office and uAspire – a Working Group member and nonprofit organization that provides students with counseling and tools to find an affordable path to and through college. 

            “This is an exciting time of year for students and families who are making important decisions about going to college, but financial aid award letters can be hard to digest,” AG Healey said. “Through our office’s work to address fraud and abuse in student lending, we have seen the impact that student debt is having in Massachusetts and across the country. This initiative is about better understanding financial aid packages offered by colleges and making an informed decision about where to enroll and what it will cost. We are pleased to partner with uAspire to make sure that all of our students can pursue quality, affordable education.”

AG Healey’s campaign – located at – includes helpful graphics, sample forms, tips, and resources online to help students and families understand and compare financial aid award letters and determine the amount of money they’ll need to pay for college. While acceptance letters are typically straightforward, the financial aid award letters can be confusing, hard to compare, and vary greatly from school to school. Too often, the AG’s Office hears that students did not realize how much they would owe until after finishing school.

            “uAspire is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Attorney General’s Office and the Boston Chamber of Commerce to give Massachusetts families the resources and information they need to effectively analyze award letters, a critical step in making a sound financial decision when choosing a college,” said Gabrielle King Morse, Executive Director of uAspire Massachusetts.

            “We are so proud to have partnered with the Attorney General's Office on the Student Debt Working Group, and we are pleased that, in short time, this partnership has produced a wonderful resource to help students and their families make informed decisions about their higher education and financial aid options,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “Maintaining our state's reputation for the most talented workforce in the world, and improving access to education at all levels, for all Massachusetts residents are top policy priorities for the Greater Boston Chamber and our members. We are thankful to the Attorney General for her commitment to addressing these critical business issues, and look forward to more collaborative and productive work in the coming months.”

“A point of pride for Massachusetts is that it is home to so many high quality colleges and universities,” said Rob McCarron, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM). “Choosing the right college is a major life decision, but also one that brings career and life advantages. Our institutions expect and want students to ask questions, especially when it comes to financial aid opportunities. The financial aid process exists to help students and their families, and college admissions teams are always ready to explore a variety of options in order to create a class that brings diverse talents and interests to their campuses. AICUM is proud to support the Attorney General in ensuring that the financial aid process remains transparent and robust.”

“This is a critically important issue for families, especially for students who will be the first in their families to attend college or those for whom English is a second language,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “While many campuses have made progress in demystifying the language used to describe aid awards, we need to work even harder to ensure that all students understand the financial benefits and implications of their packages. I applaud the Attorney General’s efforts and pledge to work closely with her office to improve the quality and clarity of communications with families.”

Addressing fraud and abuse in student lending has been a top priority for AG Healey since taking office, whether taking predatory for-profit schools to court, and changing the practices of student loan servicers, to going after unlawful student debt relief companies,updating the U.S. Department of Education’s federal loan discharge regulations and helping thousands of struggling Massachusetts student borrowers secure relief and get out of debt.

The AG’s first-in-the-nation Student Loan Assistance Unit has helped student borrowers understand their repayment options, resolve defaulted loans, apply for discharges, and mediate billing disputes with loan servicers.  Each year, the Unit receives hundreds of calls from students and parents who are struggling with student loan debt.  Borrowers with student loan problems are encouraged to file aStudent Loan Request for Assistance to get help.  Students and parents with questions or concerns about financial aid award letters should call the Student Loan Assistance Unit’s hotline at 1-888-830-6277 or fill out an Award Letter Help Request.

Students and families can also get individual help by bringing award letters to a seminar  hosted by MEFA. They may also call or visit an American Student Assistance College Planning Center in Boston or Brockton where counselors are available to help, or go to American Student Assistance’s website for helpful resources. Students are also advised to use to learn more about each school, including the costs of attendance, graduation rates, and the average earnings of graduates.

All males must register with Selective service within 30 days on their 18th birthday. Click HERE.

The mission of the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance is to promote and enhance access to higher education by delivering quality student financial aid information and services to residents of the Commonwealth, and thus ensuring that they have an opportunity to enrich their lives and contribute to the economic development and social progress of the state. 

Not Sure Where to Begin? 
Find the Information You Need Online

Fill out the FAFSA
Basic FAFSA info: What is it and how do you fill it out
Dependency status for FAFSA purposes
How aid is calculated (including link to detailed EFC info)
Types of Aid/ Getting Aid
Types of Financial Aid
Who can get federal student aid
Pell Lifetime Eligibility Used
Finding and applying for scholarships
Loan interest rates and fees
Avoiding financial aid scams
Repaying Loans
Loan repayment
Income-Driven Payment Plans
Repayment Estimator (compares repayment plans)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Loan forgiveness in general
Loan forgiveness for teachers
College Prep
College Preparation Checklist: checklists for academic and financial preparation, for elementary school through adult students
Why go to college (education and pay/unemployment rates)

Special Audience.
Info for parents (tax benefits, support your child, college costs)
Graduate school funding
Financial aid for adult students
Aid for military families
Going to college in another country
Social Media
@FAFSA Twitter feed
Federal Student Aid YouTube channel
Federal Student Aid Facebook page