Last-minute time-saving tips for FAFSA and CSS Profile

When you’re doing anything at the last minute, it always seems to take longer. That is so true with completing financial documents for college. Recently, I was completing FAFSA in support of my son’s college applications. Several of the private universities on his list also required the CSS Profile. (Yes, I was completing them at the last minute.) So that you don’t get as frustrated and waste time as I did, here are 2 key tips to keep in mind when you complete the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile:

Your Teen Leads the Financial Aid Process

The FAFSA and/or CSS Profile are in the name of your student. This means that your teen must have their own FSA ID in order for you to complete the FAFSA. For the CSS Profile, your student’s College Board account is the account name for a parent to submit financial documents. In my particular case, my son’s login used for his SAT registration authorized me to complete the CSS Profile. It makes sense when you think about it although the logistics are frustrating.

Sidebar: This approach to completing the financial documents speaks loudly to a statement I make repeatedly to parents:

Your Teen is in Charge

It may be scary, but very true. Throughout the college admissions process, your teen owns the process. When we, as parents take over, that’s when our teen’s chances of getting in and getting money are jeopardized.

Plan Ahead

The first step in this FAFSA Guide is to get an FSA ID. It takes 2-3 days to obtain this FSA ID because of the required social security number verification.

What happens though if you don’t have 2-3 days to wait to fill out the FAFSA? If you want to start the FAFSA without the FSA ID, then I suggest that you start the FAFSA using your student’s information. This will allow you to fill out the application immediately. If you filed your taxes in the year requested, please use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to save time.

Before submitting the application, there is a place for an e-signature. This would usually be signed with the student’s FSA ID. Your student may, however, sign without the FSA ID, then select the box to verify the information being submitted. The parent can also sign and submit the FAFSA. Later, after receiving the FSA ID, then the FAFSA can be officially “signed” with that FSA ID.

Please create a reminder on your calendar to return to the FAFSA form and add the FSA ID for the official signature. Taking the initiative to add the FSA ID later will ensure that there are no delays in any college funding your family is due to receive.

College Scholarships for Middle School Students

scholarship money for middle school students

Did you know that your child can start getting scholarships for college before they even get to high school?

It’s true. There are more scholarships available to middle school students than ever before!

I didn’t know this until recently either—I was working with an 11th grade student to find outside scholarships for college, and we were doing some independent research.

We had a meeting set up to review our findings together, which revealed some very surprising results.

Can middle schoolers get college scholarships?

I was amazed at the opportunities available to younger students, long before they even started applying to college.

I realized that (as someone who is fully immersed in the college application and admission processes) if even I didn’t know there were so many excellent scholarships available for middle school students, how could the students and their families know?

I began sharing several of the scholarship opportunities I found with families who had younger children.

While we’re on the topic, you won’t want to miss this post, with tips for preparing your ninth-grader for college. 

What I’ve found is while most people wanted to know about these scholarships as soon as their child was eligible to apply, only a small percentage actually followed through with the applications.

Can you guess what happened when other middle schoolers did take advantage of these scholarship opportunities?

Their road to college was a much smoother ride!

Of course, obtaining scholarships isn’t the only important part of the journey to getting into college.

Although it’s still a few years away, here are some tips for supporting your middle school-aged child during the college admissions process.

Scholarship opportunities for middle school students.

If you want to start garnering college scholarships early, check out these opportunities for middle schoolers:

  1. Doodle 4 Google—Contestants can apply for this scholarship as early as kindergarten through high school.
  2. Gloria Barron Prize for Young HeroesThis scholarship goes to young people aged 8 – 18 who have made a positive difference on people and the environment.
  3. Kohl’s Cares—Students are recognized for their volunteer service from 6 years and up to high school graduation with this scholarship that awards up to $10,000.
  4. MathMovesUThese scholarships go to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and can be used for a summer camp or college.
  5. Scholastic Arts and Writing AwardsThis scholarship is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7 – 12. Students can submit art or writing across 28 categories.
  6. The Angela Award—The Angela Award is a scholarship awarded by the National Science Teachers Association to a girl in grade 5 – 8, who is involved in or connected to science.

This is just a short list of opportunities to help you get started.

I encourage you to do a very specific search on Google to find additional scholarships for your middle schooler. It takes time and diligence to find scholarships and apply for them, so don’t give up!

These efforts can pay off in more ways than one.

What other scholarships would you add to this list?

Need a little more guidance with finding scholarships, college applications, and admissions?

For one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about preparing for college and the college application process, you’ll want to have a look at these articles too:

7 Ways to Support Your Child During the College Application Process
Get In and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors
Where’s the Money for College? Case Studies of How Students Earned Big Scholarships

This article was originally published on June 29, 2015, and has been updated.