Beyond the FAFSA and Profile

Financial Aid, Saving Money

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably already familiar with the two most common requirements when applying for financial aid, the FAFSA and CSS Profile. As if those two were not enough, some colleges have even MORE additional requirements. The rule of thumb: the more selective the college, the more likely they’ll ask for additional information before awarding aid.

So what else might you be asked to provide?

A Copy of Your IRS Tax Return
Many selective colleges will require a signed copy of federal tax returns for the student and parents, including all W2s, 1099s, schedules and attachments. This serves to verify that the numbers you entered into the FAFSA and Profile are correct.

Colleges differ in how they want this submitted. Some actually want it mailed or faxed directly to their financial aid office. More commonly, the tax returns must be submitted through the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service, or IDOC, through which the College Board collects documents on behalf of the colleges. If you have submitted a Profile for a college that uses the IDOC, the College Board will notify you by email with instructions for how to submit your tax returns to your participating colleges. Once you log into the IDOC, you’ll see a list of requirements for each of your colleges.

College Specific Forms
Some colleges have their own financial aid forms. In some cases, applicants are given the option to complete either the Profile or the college’s own form. Washington University in St. Louis is one example. Other colleges, Princeton for example, require their own form in addition to the Profile.

It can be hard to keep track of all these requirements, especially if you are applying to a lot of colleges. But if you do your research early, and stay organized, you will be fine. I recommend making a chart so you can have all your requirements in one place.  Just don’t miss those deadlines!