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CSS Profile

CSS profile submission also opens on October 1st at this website. Check your school to see if they are one of the schools that require a profile submission for financial aid using this list.  The CSS profile provides a more in-depth look at finances over the course of the past two years. The additional information on the CSS profile is meant to help aid officers better understand your family’s ability to pay for college, not hurt your child’s aid eligibility. It is analyzed by each institution to determine eligibility for institutional aid. According to my research, I have not found a time where it is required for students just applying for merit aid (whereas the FAFSA is often required). The cost to complete the CSS profile is $9 for the application fee and $16 for each school you have the profile sent to.

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IRS Data Retrieval Tool

One of our parents brought up great questions about the IRS data retrieval tool this weekend. The basis for the tool is that it automatically pulls the data from your 2016 tax returns to streamline the process. However, after the data breaches last Spring, the IRS has instituted new measures to ensure greater security. What does that mean for you? You will not be able to see any of your tax data that is pulled into the FAFSA. I spoke with two financial aid representatives today, one from A&M and one from SMU. The A&M representative said that entering the data manually may just mean that you would be more likely to be requested to verify your tax data. This requires submitting your tax transcript. The SMU representative, however, stated that using the data retrieval tool was required, and that if you did not use the retrieval tool, you would be automatically asked to turn in your transcript. She recommended checking your tax transcript first, which can be done by following this link, and as long as that information is correct, then the retrieval tool should be pulling the correct information.

Here is a link to a Forbes article that explains more about the new security measures and the explanation from the Department of Education.

 

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FAFSA Opens October 1st!

You will be able to file your FAFSA beginning October 1st at fafsa.ed.gov. The Department of Education has this helpful website that will prepare you for this exciting adventure. (One important note – the FAFSA on the web worksheet they offer is for the 2017-2018 school year, our 2018 graduates will be applying for the 2018-2019 school year and will, therefore, need to be using 2016 tax data when completing their FAFSA). It is important to note that even if you do not believe that you will qualify for financial aid, many MERIT scholarships require the FAFSA report. This Department of Education website has all of the information to help you gather materials to prepare ahead of time. One of the more helpful things to prepare in advance is having both parent and students apply for an FSA ID. Happy FAFSAing Firehawks!

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