Hello, Rochester undergrads! For those of you who are aid applicants, you may already know that you can get started on your application for the 2021-2022 academic year. But, you may ask, what exactly does that entail? What documents do I need to submit, and what information do I need to have available to make sure my application is accurate? While the Financial Aid Office will start sending out additional information and reminders in December, this blog entry is here to help guide you through the process and answer the big picture questions you might have about applying for aid.
What information will I need to have on hand to complete my application?
There are essentially two primary financial components that aid eligibility is determined from: income and assets. Income comprises any money made over the course of a given calendar year, while assets comprise money and financial resources that are held by the family as of the day the application is filed.
For the 2021-2022 academic year, the federal government and the University will use income from the 2019 tax year in determining aid eligibility. For the most part, 2019 income will be captured by the family’s 2019 federal tax return (Form 1040 or 1040-SR), and the various tax schedules a family may have filed with their 1040. Before moving forward with completing your application, you’ll want to make sure that all 2019 tax returns for your family are on hand. However, not every aspect of yearly income is captured by tax returns. With that in mind, you’ll also want to make sure you have your family’s 2019 W2s, 1099s, and any other financial statements showing 2019 income. Income can also include child support received by your family or social security benefits that are not necessarily reflected on the family’s tax returns.
While the income information on your application comes from a fixed tax year, assets are reported as they are at the time of completing your application. So, if you submit your FAFSA on December 10, you’ll need to report the amount of cash, savings, investments, and other assets that your family holds as of December 10. With that in mind, you’ll want to collect financial statements of any and all bank accounts, investment accounts, home and other real estate equity, and business equity.
Now that I have those materials together, what do I actually need to submit to complete my application?
All students who apply for need-based aid are required to file out a 2021-2022 FAFSA. It became available on October 1, so folks reading this can go ahead and get started on it right now through https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa. Our school code is 002894.
Beyond the FAFSA, every student will have their own set of individual requirements and application materials. In some cases, the FAFSA alone is enough. However, many students are also required to complete and submit a 2021-2022 College Board CSS Profile, which became available on September 16, 2020. For students whose biological parents are divorced or separated, the non-custodial parent will also have to submit their own 2021-2022 CSS Profile, which will become available once the custodial parent has completed their Profile. Profiles can be submitted through https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/. Our school code is 2928.
Students who complete a Profile will also be required to submit copies of their family’s 2019 federal tax returns through the College Board’s IDOC service. IDOC is a secure, private method of submitting tax information to the University, with College Board making the documents available to the Financial Aid Office through a password-protected portal. The Financial Aid Office will not accept hard, emailed, or faxed copies of tax documents.
So how do I know what I need to submit, in particular? How will I be notified?
Fear not! The Financial Aid Office will begin sending out application instructions and reminders to your student email account this month. We’ll let you know if you are required to submit a Profile, and also if you are going to need to provide tax information through IDOC. For those students who will need to use the IDOC services, the College Board will also reach out directly with a separate email notifying you that your IDOC portal is ready for you to log in. You won’t have access to IDOC until you receive that email, so you won’t necessarily be able to log in and complete your IDOC requirement at the same time as your other application materials. Keep an eye on your inbox, and we’ll keep you well aware of what you’ll need to submit!
Also coming this month, you will also be able to see your application requirements through your FAOnline portal under the “Required Documents” page. Make sure to select the 2021-2022 academic year from the dropdown at the upper right of FAOnline. After you’ve submitted your initial application documents (e.g. FAFSA, Profile, and/or taxes through IDOC), any additional requirements will also be emailed to you and posted to your FAOnline Required Documents. You can view your FAOnline account through https://faonline.rochester.edu/Logon.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f.
Additional requirements? What might those be?
These can vary widely, but will almost always be tied to either conflicting or missing information in your other application materials. For example, if both of your parents worked and received a W2 reflecting their 2019 earnings, but only one W2 is submitted to IDOC, we will reach out to request the missing W2 also be submitted. For another example, if you report that your household has six members on your FAFSA, but five members on your Profile, we’ll reach out to clarify which is the correct figure.
With that in mind, it goes a long way to take your time and make sure you’re submitting complete, accurate information and documentation. Make sure you have all the materials you need together and in one place before you start your FAFSA and/or Profile. If you have questions about what particular documents or information needs to be submitted, you can always reach out to your financial aid counselor in advance: https://enrollment.rochester.edu/financial-aid/contact-us/
What is the timeline once I’m ready to submit my application?
The deadline for returning undergraduates to submit their 2021-2022 aid application is MARCH 15, 2021. Starting later in the fall, and going all throughout the spring semester, we’ll remind you of that deadline and make sure you’re up to speed on what application materials we’ll need from you. If you have concerns about submitting your application by the March 15 deadline due to extenuating circumstances, it’s well worth reaching out to your financial aid counselor in advance to let them know. Students who have not submitted their materials by the deadline may have their aid eligibility reduced due to limited funding. Students can learn more about our late policy, and all things financial aid, through our FA Handbook.
From there, you can expect to receive notification of your aid package for the 2021-2022 year sometime in June, provided all materials were submitted in full and on time. As always, feel free to reach out to your counselor if you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation. We’re here to help!