Our long and winding road of financial aid deadlines: FAFSA, Profile, 1040

Done. I’ve completed the financial aid forms. Not a moment too soon:  most of Mod Squad Pete’s colleges required all the paperwork by March 1st.

  • Friday, I picked up our completed tax returns from the accountant.
  • Saturday, I cleared the desk and ignored all sorts of Saturday chores (and fun stuff) to get the submissions done.
  • Monday, I mailed the final packages, scheduled to arrive today, February 29 (thank goodness for leap years).

I’m not whining — this is all in aid of requesting college funding from various sources other than our own checkbook.

I am writing the paper trail here, in case others want to read about what it takes —  and so I’ll remember some of this in two years when we go through similar steps for M. S. Julie.

Another thing to remember:  Pete applied to six colleges, each with its own detailed specifics on required forms, deadlines, and methods of submission. This in itself is the best argument for keeping Julie’s final application list lean and focused.

November 1, 2011

Pete submitted three Early Action applications; two colleges set the financial aid deadline for March 1 (same as for their Regular Action apps). One college (College A), with a November 1st Early Action deadline, required the CSS Profile that same day, as well as a paper copy of our signed 2010 1040 (including all schedules and forms).

Completing the Profile in the fall of 2011 for the 2012-13 school year required three sets of finances:

  1. Actual 2010 figures from the filed 1040,
  2. estimated 2011 figures (before the year is over), and
  3. guessed-at 2012 figures (before the year is begun).

This might be easier for households with incomes that stay fairly steady; this presents a bit of a nightmare for households with incomes that vary, such as small business owners, consultants, realtors, farmers, salespeople, etc.

January 2012

The FAFSA became available January 1st; all schools recommend it be submitted as soon as possible. Some states set a deadline in mid February. All six of Pete’s colleges required the FAFSA submission by March 1.

Completing the FAFSA requires figures from the 2011 tax returns. We provided as much information as we could to our accountant, including non-official data that would be confirmed by 1099s later, and asked for a draft return.

February 2012

With a draft 1040 in hand I submitted the FAFSA on February 1st.

Mid-February, Pete received an email from the Profile, referring to College A’s need for our 2011 tax return. The email linked to CollegeBoard‘s iDOC site. After signing in, the site presented Pete the list of forms College A required along with the cover sheet to be mailed to an address in Illinois by March 1. Remember ‘do not fold, spindle, or mutilate’? See these instructions in the right-hand column:

College Board iDOC cover sheet

Click to enlarge.

Also mid-February we received our final 1099, sent it off to the accountant, and awaited our final returns. Those were done February 24th. That’s the earliest I’ve ever filed taxes, and I suspect we’ll be filing in February for, say, the next nine or ten years.

Looking at the specific requirements for six colleges, here’s what we had to file:

  • College A: Profile and 2010 returns, Nov 1; FAFSA, Feb 1; iDOC submission [by mail] of completed 2011 returns, Feb 27.
  • College B:  FAFSA only, Feb 1.
  • College C:  FAFSA, Feb 1; Profile, Feb 25; completed 2011 returns by fax*, Feb 25.
  • College D:  FAFSA, Feb 1; Profile, Feb 25; completed 2011 returns by mail, Feb 27.
  • College E  FAFSA, Feb 1; Profile, Feb 25; iDOC submission [by mail] of completed 2011 returns, Feb 27
  • College F:  FAFSA, Feb 1; Profile, Feb 25. 2011 returns will be requested if student accepted.

* We had a fax machine in our home office from 1992 until 2007 when we chose to not replace the no-longer-working machine since we can sign and scan documents. This required a trip to Staples, much ingenuity from the print shop manager to actually get 40 pages to feed, and a $48.00 bill.

March 1, 2012

Within a few days I’ll ask Pete to sign on to each of the college student information systems to check for any further instructions.

For now, though, I think Pete can just focus on the rest of his non-college life and I can do the same. Hurrah.

Let me know, in comments, if you faced any different or additional requirements.

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7 Comments

Filed under Paying for College

7 responses to “Our long and winding road of financial aid deadlines: FAFSA, Profile, 1040

  1. You actually should have filed an estimated FAFSA by Jan 20th! And the CSS/Profile is always due in the fall of the HS Senior year. Remember, better to beat due dates than wait for them. The earlier you apply the more resources (other than your own) you may bring to bear for college costs!

    You only need to expedite your tax return the first year for each HS Senior you have entering college. After that, FAFSA Renewals sent to the colleges will be welcome in Mar, Apr, or May, while they concentrate on the incoming freshmen class and their initial awards

    • Aargh! Thank you, Jim, for the information. I’m wondering about January 20th (and where I could have found out about that date) and, also, if the Profile should have been submitted to colleges in the fall that wouldn’t have received Pete’s applications til December? I hope you won’t mind if I email you some questions… Thanks again.

  2. A great compendium of the too often frantic fiasco that has become the college financial aid process.
    My longstanding advice to students and parents is to complete and submit the CSS-Profile (to colleges that require same) as soon after they have submitted their college applications. FAFSA should be completed and submitted, online, as soon as possible after January 1 (using the year prior’s tax return to estimate figures). Corrections can — and should — be done later.
    In this way, you beat the deadlines — state, federal, priority, etc. — no matter when they may fall.
    Love the blog. Hope you will consider adding The College Whisperer to your blog roll. Keep up the great posts!

    • Thank you for the comment and (of course) the compliment! I was thinking today about how all of this seems so much easier in hindsight. Now, of course, I’m thinking what the heck was I doing in early January that I didn’t get a draft tax return going earlier?
      Ah, well. I’d be excited about how much better I will do this second time around except I figure everything I’m learning is subject to change.

  3. Good luck! We filled out the FAFSA before our son’s first year of college and weren’t offered any money. The government assumed we could spend approximately 60% of our income on college expenses.

  4. Pingback: Follow-Up: Time to double-check FAFSA and Profile submissions | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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