Paying for College

Sending CSS Profile and FAFSA Follow-Up Letters

Question: I completed the CSS Profile form which was required by several of the colleges I'm applying to. But after I sent it in, I started reading some College Confidential discussions about the Profile, and I think I may have put some misleading information on my form that made my family look as if we have income that we don't actually have. So I sent an email to the Profile colleges explaining my mistake and the real situation. Will colleges even read these messages or do they only go by what's on the form itself?

You did exactly the correct thing. Financial aid officers definitely do read explanatory letters and will often use the information in them to adjust aid “packages." Even when students or parents complete the Profile–or the FAFSA–accurately, it doesn't always tell the whole story and may require an extra letter to spell out atypical expenses or other complications.

“The Dean" often says that financial aid officers are a lot like Emergency Room physicians … that is, there is little that the veterans of these departments haven't seen, and no detail should be considered too personal or embarrassing to reveal if it might help to boost an aid award.

In some situations, the colleges may ask for additional documentation–when available–to verify claims in the letter (e.g., paid bills, canceled checks). In your case, if If the college folks are confused by what you have submitted, they will contact you for further clarification.

Good luck!