Tips for Completing the PROFILE and FAFSA

We have identified and listed below tips on aspects of the PROFILE and FAFSA forms applicants most frequently find confusing. Before you start filling out the forms we encourage you to review our tips. Helpful explanations of questions asked are also built into the PROFILE and FAFSA forms.

Refer to your Social Security Card when completing your PROFILE and FAFSA and ensure that you use your legal name and correct Social Security Number as they appear on your Social Security Card. The student applicant’s Social Security Number is required on all applications. Misplaced your Social Security Card?

Whenever possible, complete both applications at the same time to avoid providing conflicting information. Note your filing deadlines.

Please answer according to your sex as assigned at birth. This question allows us to verify if you have fulfilled your Selective Service requirement.

You will be asked this question in three different ways on the FAFSA. Be sure to answer these questions consistently. A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate college degree typically completed in 3 – 5 years. Most students have not received their first bachelor’s degree prior to entering BU. If the FAFSA you are completing is for an academic term in which you will still be an undergraduate working toward your first bachelor’s degree, you should answer “No” to the question “Will you receive your first bachelor’s degree by July 1, 2016?”

To be considered for Federal Work-Study, be certain to answer “Yes” to the FAFSA question “Are you interested in being considered for Work-Study?”

If you or your parents have already filed a US tax return, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import IRS income tax data directly into your FAFSA. This option will streamline the application process and help you avoid errors which can cause processing delays.

Education tax credits reported on your US tax return are excluded from income in the need analysis formula. The amount of education tax credits (also called the American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credits) that you or your parents claimed on a US tax return should be reported as “Additional Financial Information” on the FAFSA and as “Income and Benefit Information” on the PROFILE.

Payments to tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans (paid directly or withheld from earnings) include amounts reported on your W-2 form in box 12a through 12d (codes D, E, F, G, H, and S). The amounts must be reported on your FAFSA and PROFILE as untaxed income. If you overlook reporting this information and are offered financial aid on the basis of that incomplete FAFSA data, we may have to reduce your award later.

The value of any family-owned business should always be reported on the PROFILE. On the FAFSA, however, do not report the value of a family-owned business if your family owns more than 50% AND the business has 100 or fewer full-time employees. Business and/or investment farm value incudes the market value of land, buildings, machinery, equipment, inventory, etc., less business and/or investment farm debt.

To complete your FAFSA, you and your parent must sign the application. Processing of your financial aid application will be delayed until a FAFSA has been submitted with both signatures, which may result in a reduction of your award.

Once you have submitted your FAFSA and you have received your Student Aid Report (SAR), please do not make any changes to it unless the SAR instructs you to do so. The information reported on the FAFSA is supposed to be a snapshot in time.