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January Tip: Completing the Financial Aid Process

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For college-bound seniors, January is a busy time of year.  Your classes are challenging, and you are doing the hard work of submitting college application items ahead of the approaching deadlines.  While it is important to focus on the application process, keep in mind that completing the financial aid process can be every bit as important as the application itself.

If you intend to apply for financial aid, we strongly encourage you to think of applying to college and applying for financial aid as “parallel” processes. Rather than completing your college applications and then moving on to financial aid, we recommend working on both simultaneously. By doing so, you not only save time and effort, you also reduce the risk of missing important deadlines.

Here is our step-by-step guide to help you complete the financial process:

Step 1: Not sure if you and your family qualify for financial aid?

Federal guidelines require all colleges to provide an online tool called the Net Price Calculator. This tool allows you to receive an instant estimate of how much and what types of financial aid you qualify for during the 2014-2015 academic year. It takes no more than 20 minutes and can help take the guesswork out of your financial aid eligibility. F&M’s Net Price Calculator is available here.

Step 2: Indicate “Yes”

If you are applying to F&M and would like to be considered for financial aid, be sure to indicate your interest in financial aid on your college application by clicking YES to the “Do you intend to apply for need-based financial aid?” question in the “Future Plans” section of the Common Application.

Step 3: Complete the 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The FAFSA is used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, including federal loans and Pell Grants. Almost all colleges and universities require the FAFSA as part of the financial aid application process. To complete the FAFSA, please visit the federal government’s website. The FAFSA must be submitted to F&M by February 1, 2014.  F&M’s Federal code is 003265.

NOTE: The FAFSA must be completed no later than February 15, 2014, even if your family’s 2013 tax returns have not been fully completed (use estimated 2013 figures). You will have the opportunity to return online to the FAFSA and amend it once your tax returns have been fully prepared.

Step 4: Complete the 2014-2015 CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

Many private colleges like F&M commit a large portion of their budgets to financial aid. The CSS PROFILE is a resource used by many of these schools to determine a student’s eligibility for institutionally-determined financial aid.

To be eligible for Franklin & Marshall need-based grants, students must complete the CollegeBoard/CSS PROFILE by February 1, 2014. To access this important part of the financial aid application process, please visit the College Board’s website. F&M’s school code is 2261.

Step 5: Submit your family’s 2013 tax returns and related tax records through “IDOC”

What is IDOC? It is a service offered in conjunction with the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE that allows qualifying students to submit their 2013 tax returns electronically. If you have submitted the CSS PROFILE and the College requires your 2013 federal tax records, you will automatically receive instructions on how to use the IDOC by email in early February.  It’s that easy!

As you complete the financial aid process, questions may arise. If you need any help at any time, please feel free to reach out to our dedicated and knowledgeable financial aid staff.  They can be reached by email at or by phone at (717) 291-3991.