College Board


Applying For Financial Aid

Appying For Financial Aid2If your son or daughter is going to college, then you already know that you should apply for financial aid if you want to be considered for need-based aid, grants and loans. What you may not know is that there are two different financial aid applications.

First, let’s talk about the application everyone needs to fill out.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the application that is required by every college in order to consider and then award financial aid to your son or daughter. The FAFSA is free and while it will take some time to fill out, if you organize yourself ahead of time it will be much easier.

The FAFSA is a smart form which you will find very helpful. Based on the information you enter, the FAFSA customizes the questions so that you only need to answer questions that pertain to your individual situation.

While everyone needs to fill out the FAFSA, based on colleges you are applying to, some of you may need to also fill out the CSS Profile.

The Profile is only required by a couple hundred private schools in addition to some scholarship programs. Unlike the FAFSA, the Profile is not free. It will cost you $16 to register and then an additional $9 per school for each school to which you send the form. The Profile also takes longer to complete and digs deeper into your financial picture.

To help yourself out with both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, some of the information you will want to gather before you get started include:

  • Student and parents’ social security numbers
  • Student and parents’ driver’s license numbers
  • Statements for checking and savings accounts
  • Copies of last year’s tax return and W-2’s
  • Statements for any 529 accounts
  • Statements for any investment accounts
  • Current mortgage statement (Profile only)

Keep in mind that while current seniors are just filling out the FAFSA now (it went live on January 1st while the CSS Profile became available on October 1st) next year’s seniors will be able to fill out both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile starting in October.

This is a welcome change to the FAFSA as it will allow you to file financial aid applications using real numbers rather than estimates. Currently, you apply for financial aid using estimations for income and assets based on prior year information. With this new timeline, you will now use prior-prior year information – there will be no more guessing.

For those of you are very much depending on financial aid to help make a decision on where your son or daughter will be able to go to college, having this information in the fall of their senior year rather than waiting until the late spring, when they only have so many weeks left before the May 1st deadline is going to be very helpful.

There’s a lot to like about that.

If you would like some assistance with your college search or financial aid process, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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The CSS/PROFILE: The “Other” Financial Aid Application

The CSS Profile The Other Financial Aid ApplicationThe CSS/PROFILE went live on October 1st officially kicking off the start to the financial aid season. Ironically enough, many families don’t even know the CSS/PROFILE exists.

It does and here’s what you need to know about it:

1. While every college requires a student to file a FAFSA to qualify to federal need-based aid, over 200 mostly private colleges require students to complete the CSS/PROFILE as well for consideration of scholarships.

2. Here in Connecticut that list includes: Connecticut College, Fairfield University, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University, Trinity College, University of New Haven, Wesleyan University, and Yale University.

3. While the FAFSA is a free application, the CSS/Profile is not. The initial application is $25 and then each subsequent submission costs $16.

4. Unlike the FAFSA, a family’s home equity is taken into account as an available asset.

5. If a family owns a business, 100% of its equity will be assessed.

6. Assets held in the names of siblings will be considered parental assets and assessed as such increasing the parents’ EFC.

7. Only untaxed social security benefits for the student will be excluded whereas benefits for the parent will not be excluded.

8. Pre-tax contributions to flex-plans for healthcare and dependent care are assessed as untaxed income.

9. Schools have their own deadlines for when the CSS/PROFILE should be filed and these dates can range from as early as sometime in November for Early Decision or Early Action applicants to as late as February for students applying Regular Decision. When in doubt, families should always check the school’s website or call the financial aid office to verify deadlines.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into the CSS/PROFILE. It’s costly, it’s invasive and it’s just another hurdle standing in the way for many students and their parents.

If you would like some assistance filing the CSS/PROFILE as well as the FAFSA, contact me today. Like an accountant would with your taxes, I can help you gather the documents you need, assist you in the filing of both applications and then also help you with appeals should the need arise.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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Should You Take SAT Subject Tests?

Should You Take The SAT Subject TestsSAT Subject Tests are hour-long content based tests which allow you to demonstrate just how awesome you are in a given subject. There are 20 Subject Tests in all and unlike the SAT where you have to complete all three sections, you get to choose which Subject Tests you would like to take. Subject Tests are offered on the same dates as the SAT and you can take up to three tests in one sitting.

You can check out a complete list of all Subject Tests on the College Board website here.

Now that you fully understand what a Subject Test, let’s move on to the bigger question.

Should you take one?

The answer is an easy “yes” when you plan on applying to a highly selective college. If you review their admission requirements, a lot of these schools will require or recommend Subject Tests. Pay close attention to the fine print though as some of them will recommend specific subjects depending on your major.

For example, engineering applicants to Johns Hopkins University are strongly encouraged to submit two SAT subject tests: Mathematics Level 2 and one of the sciences. Applicants for Lehigh University’s combined BA/MD degree program are “strongly encouraged” to take Mathematics Level 1 or Level 2 and Chemistry.

So, in some cases, you do have to be very strategic about which tests you take.

But what if a college doesn’t strongly encourage them? What if they just recommend taking a Subject Test? What if they say they will only use them if the scores enhance your chances for admission?

In my opinion, you always want to go beyond the basic requirements. So while there is a difference between “strongly encourage” and “recommend”, in either case the college is making a reference to them as something they like to see in their applicants’ files. When a college is telling you what they want to see, you should listen.

And if a school is only going to use them in situations where they help you, well, you’ve got nothing to lose except for a couple hours on a Saturday morning.

In today’s competitive applicant pool, especially at the most selective colleges, you can’t afford not to put together the strongest application possible. SAT Subject Tests can and will play a role in that so review the requirements for your schools and take a couple tests in your strongest subjects. Do well enough and they may just help your chances.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. If you’re in the local area, check out my FREE college planning workshops coming up this spring in Cheshire and Southbury. 

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College Counseling Tip Of The Day – January SAT test scores are released today

If you’re happy with your scores, good for you! If not, you still have several opportunities to test again before early applications go out in November. If you’re self-motivated, start taking some practice tests, score them and then go back and figure out what you got wrong. If you need a little more guidance and support (aka a kick in the pants) hook up with a good test prep tutor.

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College Counseling Tip Of The Day – Today is the deadline to register for the March SAT

Yesterday’s Tip Of The Day was about not missing deadlines. Today is a perfect example. If you want to take the March SAT, you have until the end of the day today to register. Sure, you can register tomorrow, but you will pay a late fee and who likes late fees?

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