The Process

FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Aid) process is used by all institutions of higher education.

(Must be submitted after January 1st but it can be prepared before this date.)

The FAFSA is a Need Analysis Process referred to as Federal Methodology to determine a family’s ability to pay for one year of college. The result of this analysis is referred to as the Expected Family Contribution or (EFC). This process must be completed each year that the student is applying for aid. It is a free service provided by the government. This process only evaluates need; it does not determine the kind of aid that the student will receive. Only the financial aid officer at the college, state or scholarship agency can determine the kind of aid to be awarded.

CSS PROFILE (College Scholarship Service) is a Need Analysis Process referred to as Institutional Methodology to determine a family’s ability to pay for one year of college. Some colleges require the College Scholarship Service’s (CSS) Profile as well as the FAFSA and this document may be submitted in early November.

Electronically filing is required by both processes. Web sites to be used are:





  1. Apply for a PIN number for the student applicant and one parent in the student’s household. Note: When you submit your information for the PIN, you will need to wait three days for it to be emailed to you.
  2. After January 1, use the student’s PIN and submit the FAFSA to the Central Processor using actual or estimated income for the year prior, to evaluate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  3. You will receive the (EFC) results immediately, it will appear on the printout as a five (5) digit number without a dollar sign ($).
  4. Wait three days after submission and you will be able to update the FAFSA with new financial data or to add schools.
  5. If possible, complete your Federal Income Tax forms (1040) ASAP. (It is recommended that your taxes be filed by February 15 for the academic year your student plans to attend college). It is important not to require an extension for submitting your tax forms, since this action could prevent the student from receiving maximum financial aid.
  6. A “Verification” of the student’s FAFSA may be requested by the college and your  financial aid will NOT be processed until all required documents are received.  Federal regulations require colleges to select a certain number of applications for a review process called “Verification”. If your application is selected, you will be notified by the office through either a written request or via student email, for additional information. You will have 30 days to submit the required documents.

    If the colleges has requested you to send a Tax Return Transcript, you must provide the information in one of two ways:

    1.) Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that is part of the FAFSA on the Web. Go to, log in to the student’s FAFSA record, select “Make FAFSACorrections”, and navigate to the Financial Information section of the form. From there, follow the instructions to determine if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer IRS income tax information onto the student’s FAFSA.

    2.) Obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript as follows:
    – Go to and click on the “Order a Return or Account Transcript” link, or call 800-829-1040.
    – Make sure you order the “IRS Tax Return Transcript” and NOT the “IRS Tax Account Transcript.”
    – You will need to use your Social Security Number, date of birth, and address on file with the IRS.

    NOTE: It takes up to two weeks for IRS income information to be available for electronic IRS tax return filers, and up to eight weeks for paper tax return filers. If the parents are married, and they filed separate tax returns, then you must obtain a separate IRS Tax Return Transcript for each parent. A copy of a paper tax return prepared by filer or tax preparer will not be accepted.

  7. After the above process has satisfied the college’s documentation requirements, then you will be receiving an award letter (notification of the amount of aid being offered) in the student’s e-mail or U.S. Postal address. This notification will explain what types of financial aid the college(s) will be offering the student (loans, grants, scholarship or work program).

The College Scholarship Service PROFILE (used in addition to FAFSA):

(Document MUST be submitted by the College’s deadline, which could be as early as October or November of the year that preceeds the academic year of choice.)

PROFILE is a service of the College Board. Institutions of higher education use the information collected on the PROFILE to help them award non-federal student aid funds.

The PROFILE Application is customized for the student, based on the information given when the registration is completed.

The PROFILE requires a registration fee for each college that requires the results.

The PROFILE is normally required by select four-year private colleges and a few four-year public institutions such as University of Virginia. However, not all private colleges require this document. In Maryland, only four colleges require this document and they are: Loyola University, Goucher College, St. Johns of Annapolis and Johns Hopkins University. In the District of Columbia, only Georgetown University and George Washington University require the PROFILE.

The PROFILE processes the family information similar to the FAFSA process. In addition to the information submitted on the FAFSA, PROFILE requests information related to equity in the home and sometimes information held in retirement plans. It may also request information on the Non-Custodial parent.

The PROFILE process used to assess the results is referred to as Institutional Methodology need analysis.

Important Notice: if the college requires the PROFILE, it is “very” important that all deadlines and supplemental documents are submitted on time. This is the main document that PROFILE colleges use to distribute their institutional funds.

The PROFILE institutions, many times, requires the supplemental forms such as the Non-Custodial Parent Profile, the Business and Farm Statement, and the INSTITUTIONAL Document (IDOC) forms to be submitted to finalize the aid process.

Dr. Davis provides this processing service for his clients in addition to college financial aid planning.

  1. The CSS Profile is submitted electronically in the Fall for early decision candidates.
  2. The CSS Profile requires taxes and financial documentation for three years.
  3. The CSS Profile is required by some institutions for only the first year of college.
  4. Non Custodial Profiles and Business and Farm Statements are normally only required the first year of college.

Institutional Aid Application (IAA):

1. The IAA is a document used by select institutions to gather additional information on the student and family. For some schools, this is a necessity to find additional information, so as to select qualified students to receive funding from restricted funds at the institution. In other cases, it is used to replace the request for the CSS PROFILE process.

2. The IAA is normally located on the institution’s web site or you can request the IAA from the financial aid office at the college.

3. The IAA is a free application.

4. The IAA normally has a deadline that is important to adhere.

In terms of good financial aid planning, always ascertain from each college of interest:

1. What forms are required to receive maximum financial aid?

2. What are the college’s filing deadlines?

3. What is their cost of attendance/budget allowances? (Tuition, fee, room, board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expense)

4. When do they notify the student of the award and how do they notify the applicant? (ie: email, U.S. Postal Service)