17 Things, Minor and Major, I’ve Learned about Completing the CollegeBoard Profile

The rear of the Wren Building at the College o...

Wren Building, William & Mary. Image via Wikipedia.

This fall marks the first time I’ve had to complete the CollegeBoard’s Profile (read:  financial aid application). Given three members in the household Mod Squad, I’ll be completing this every year from now through 2020 or so (let’s assume that everyone finishes in four years).

I can only hope this will get easier every year. I won’t think, for now, about changes that will be made in the forms over the next ten years. I’ll just focus on what I’ve learned so far about completing the Profile financial aid application.

I learned 4 things about the Profile before I even began. [How to register, how to prepare.]

  1. While I’ve encouraged (read: pushed) Mod Squad Pete to get applications in ahead of the deadline, I submitted the Profile, due for one of his colleges November 1st, on November 1st.
  2. I may have questioned the need for printing the complete instructions (11 pages) and worksheet (22 pages), but that was before working my way through them. I printed both documents, punched holes, and put them in a mini-binder; that became my ‘bible’ for gathering financial info.
  3. The amount of time the Profile takes to complete will vary widely, depending upon the timeliness and neatness of financial paper-filing practices and the simplicity or complexity of the household’s finances.
  4. For example, anyone who tallies their tax-related information throughout the year, including medical expenses, taxes paid, deductions, etc. will be well-prepared to complete the Profile.
  5. However, those of us who open envelopes and drop paperwork into folders for end-of-year bookkeeping, will be doing that bookkeeping before completing the Profile.
  6. Anyone, and I won’t lay claim to this characteristic, who has to search through a stack of unopened envelopes to find financial data will find this takes a long time to complete.
  7. The College of William & Mary got it right on their admissions site: “Please set aside a considerable amount of time for collecting and organizing your financial information and completing the Profile.”
  8. Some might find some of the questions intrusive. [Purchase date for each vehicle? Step-parent’s assets?]
  9. Others may find this practical for colleges to determine real need. [Are you the beneficiary of a trust?]
  10. The deadline for completing the Profile might be around the same time as an Early Action/Decision deadline, or it might be around March 15. Check each college website to be sure, especially since a lot of financial aid is first-come, first-served.
  11. You will need three years’ worth of tax information to complete the form, some of which must be estimated. For example, the Profile due November 1, 2011 required data from our 2010 tax returns, best estimates for our 2011 tax forms, and best estimates for our 2012 (the school year the Profile covers) work/tax/family situation.
  12. If you must submit the Profile to any colleges in the fall, submit it just to those that require it then. You can update the online form later with real numbers from the 2011 tax returns for submission to those colleges requiring it in 2012.
  13. While I initially thought the Profile was required only by private colleges, not so. Over 500 public and private colleges, universities, and scholarship programs use the Profile to help them award non-federal student aid funds. The FAFSA, required by all colleges and universities and submitted to the government, helps determine need for federal student aid funds.

Come early January, we’ll file our 2011 tax returns, complete the FAFSA, and update the Profile. Ahh. So much still to be learned.

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Filed under Paying for College

2 responses to “17 Things, Minor and Major, I’ve Learned about Completing the CollegeBoard Profile

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly Reader: 13 Key Items to Know About Financial Aid. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  2. Pingback: The Sophomore Search for College [or... hiding from the emails] | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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