CSS Profile

,

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.


Read More
, ,

Understanding Financial Aid Methodologies

Applying For Financial Aid

So you know you will be applying for financial aid and you’re hearing something about methodologies.

Well, you’re hearing right. Methodologies is plural. There’s more than one. In fact, there are actually two methodologies for calculating financial aid: federal and institutional.

The federal methodology is used by the federal government when you submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) while the institutional methodology is used by individual colleges who require you to submit the CSS Profile, which is actually administered by the College Board.

So, what’s the difference beyond the names?

Good question.

While the FAFSA is required by all schools, only a couple hundred private schools require the CSS Profile. So, if you’re applying to the University of Connecticut, you won’t be required to fill out the CSS Profile. If you’re applying to Wesleyan University, a highly selective liberal arts college, you will be required to submit the Profile and you will then be subject to the more stringent requirements for aid eligibility.

The institutional methodology most often shows that a family needs to pay more for college than the federal methodology due to some of the following reasons:

1. If you own a business, 100% of its equity will be assessed.

2. Assets held in the names of siblings will be considered parental assets and assessed as such

3. Your home equity will be considered an asset

4. Only untaxed social security benefits for the student will be excluded. Benefits for the parent will not be excluded.

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

6. Education tax credits are assessed as untaxed income

Essentially, the federal methodology is much more forgiving than the institutional methodology. Since private colleges are dipping into their endowments to award institutional aid to their best applicants, they want to make sure this money is being used wisely (a very subjective term, here).

So, at the end of the day, take a close look at which schools you are applying to so that you know who is going to require the CSS Profile. Not all private schools will, but the more selective the school, the greater the chance that it will be required. You can find this information on the school’s financial aid website of by visiting the list of participating schools and programs on the CSS Profile webpage.


Read More
, ,

Applying For Financial Aid

Applying For Financial AidIf your son or daughter is going to college, then you already know that you need to apply for financial aid. 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 before we talk about the application some of you will need.

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 also need to 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.

Starting your Profile application is a two-step process. First, you must register. And you must do this in one shot. There’s no saving and going back, so get your documents and information together first, register for the Profile, and then complete the applications.

To help yourself out with the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, you will want to collect the following before you get started:

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

The FAFSA can’t be filled out until January 1st but the CSS Profile becomes available on October 1st so it’s important to start your financial aid application planning now. While the college admissions process is about to take center stage for the next couple months, it’s also time to think about the financial end of things. It can get complicated with college visits, prepping for the ACT and SAT, completing applications and looking at the financial picture.

If you want some help and guidance to make sure you’re doing it right, set up an appointment today for a free consultation.

Read More