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CSS Profile Question: How do they verify assets?

SouthFloridaMomSouthFloridaMom Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
I am feverishly filling out the Profile. My daughter has applied ED and I have to have it done by Nov 1. Our income is very low (under 40K), but our assets are pretty good. We have a small business that has done poorly over the last three years, but we were able to put money away in the past.

How do the fin aid officers verify your assets? Can they request statements from your mutual funds and stocks? Just wondering how accurate I have to be in this area, and I would love to hear from someone who has a clue about this.

Post edited by SouthFloridaMom on

Replies to: CSS Profile Question: How do they verify assets?

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Generally the schools request verification which would consist of signed 1040 & W-2s & may ask for supporting documentation as well.

    Our experience was verification was every year.

    I think since fin aid is now linked up with taxes, they can let you know if any errors.
  • akebiasakebias Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    Although I don't thoroughly understand how they research - your tax returns give a lot hints - they will look at your interest and dividends, etc. If you misstate by a lot they can easily figure out that you are lying. Do a estimated calculation so you know where your EFC falls. It helps to NOT have a lot cash on hand. So spend it if you need a new car or to fix your house - if you need a new roof, don't wait to replace it. If you can put your cash into the account of a minor child.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,864 Senior Member
    Very often the advice is given her by some to spend down your assets. I'm going to counter that by saying...it's not always the best plan. Parent assets are only tapped at 5.6% for FAFSA purposes and that is AFTER an asset protection allowance (schools that use Profile likely have varying %ages of assets they tap for family contribution purposes). Some folks find that having money IN the bank knowing that some of that might be expected by some schools is better than spending their assets down.

    Is your money in IRA/TSA types of mutual funds or just regular mutual funds? I only ask because the balances of money IN retirement accounts is not counted as an asset (yes some Profile schools ask for that balance...but it's not clear if or how it is used).
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,423 Senior Member
    I agree. I also agree that there are enough clues in tax returns to figure out approximately what is there is in assets or at least enough to know if someone is playing fast and loose with the numbers. I think small business owners have a tougher time because businesses have a value separate from the bodies and hardware although there are various formulas for valuing a business so I suppose if there was scrutiny involved even that wouldn't be hard for a seasoned finaid officer to figure out.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,864 Senior Member
    Both of my kids went to Profile schools. Both schools required my whole tax return as part of the financial aid process (even my EA kid had to send it all in after we filed on Feb 1). And my son's school actually wanted TWO years of tax returns with all schedules.

    Even for Profile schools, you will still need to complete the FAFSA. Any false info on the FAFSA is considered fraud. Your child would not only risk losing any aid they award but could also risk losing an offer of admittance.

    OH...and the info on the FAFSA should be identical to the info on your amended Profile (yes, you will have to amend it to reflect your 2011 completed taxes).

    Bottom line...be honest...tell it like it is. There is way to much to risk by being dishonest.
  • SouthFloridaMomSouthFloridaMom Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    You are all right! I don't want to jeopardize my daughter's future to save a few dollars (or more!) honesty is the way to go.
    This is such a nerve wracking time, our profile form is due Nov 1st. Just filling in those blanks...and waiting for Dec 15 for the ed answer!

    Thanks again.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,864 Senior Member
    SouthFloridaMom, the next couple of months are going to be doozies. This too shall pass....and the students applying today will find good colleges to call home next fall. Good luck to your daughter.

    (P.S. There are some of us here who are past the "forms filling out" stage. You'll get there too...and it will all be worth it).
  • OlymomOlymom Registered User Posts: 1,689 Senior Member
    Keep lots of notes and print off copies of all that you submit. This will help you next year. It is still stressful, but the first year is the worst.

    Not only can colleges request tax forms, they also can call and ask follow up questions and request additional documentation. Somewhere in the fine print it will say that they get to ask whatever they feel is appropriate and if you don't answer to their satisfaction, then they'll just put your kid's file/offer on hold until you do clarify.

    I like "How to pay for college without going broke" by Chany/Khany. It lays out how you approach each hurdle in a way that is honest but is the least flattering snapshot of your finances (it's the opposite of scrapbooking -- you don't get to say you are someone different, but you want the picture that makes you look the poorest!).
  • SouthFloridaMomSouthFloridaMom Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    Olymom, we are on the same page! I have been combing through Chany's book, and its not the first time. Every so often I give it another look and I seem to learn something new everytime.

    Thanks for the words of support, I will be submitting it by the end of next week!
This discussion has been closed.