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.