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The prior responders have been addressing the FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Some schools, mainly private schools, also require completion of College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) - see
It is my understanding (though I have never completed one) that it asks for far more information than a FAFSA, including, IIRC, value of 401k and IRA accounts and equity in your home.

We completed a FAFSA, and also the forms for another kind of financial aid but I don't remember what it was called (2007). It wanted to know the value of all homes, but didn't ask for IRA or 401k balances. It was nosier than the FAFSA for income, though. I think I recall the FAFSA using lines from the 1040 tax form, but you can game that (a little). A salaried person maybe can't, but a company owner can choose to have the company provide a car and other stuff in lieu of a salary that a person would use to pay for those items. Also, he (or she) can opt to take a small salary in the year that the forms are looking at, then give himself (or herself) a big bonus in some other year. That other form made it harder to game the income, IIRC.
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