Tips for Your Financial Aid Forms - COLLEGEdata - Pay Your Way
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Tips for Your Financial Aid Forms

Filling out financial aid applications can feel overwhelming. They ask for a lot of information. Here's some help to get those forms right.

The most common financial aid forms are the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. How and when you fill out and submit forms can determine how much aid you'll receive—or if you'll receive any aid at all.

Read the instructions and the entire form first. Read through the instructions and the form before you fill anything in. Get an idea of the information requested and how long it will take you to gather it. This will help you plan enough time to do an accurate job.

Be accurate. Don't make guesses about your information. Use a copy of the form or online practice worksheets to figure out your answers before you complete the actual form. Have all relevant documents handy.

Be consistent. Keep copies of all your completed forms so you can provide consistent answers if the same questions appear on different forms.

Fill in everything. Even if a question does not apply to you, indicate that you have read the question by putting an "NA" (for not applicable) or a zero.

Answer items completely. It's easy to get distracted and leave out information the form requests. Before you send it, review it again to make sure you left nothing out.

Anticipate deadlines. Find out the deadlines that your state and colleges have for receiving aid applications. Don't wait until the last minute to fill out a form. Getting your share of financial aid may depend on submitting forms well before the state and college deadlines.

Be careful with last-minute submissions. If you are down to the wire, make sure you understand the definition of a deadline. Some deadlines are the "date received," others are the "date postmarked" or the "date processed." If you're submitting your application online, don't wait until hours before the application is due to submit it. Your application might be rejected for technical reasons, and there may not be time to resend it.

Look again! No matter what form you're filling out, take your time and do it right. Go back and reread what you've written to see if it reflects your honest understanding of your family's financial situation. Have someone you trust read your data before submitting it.

Save copies. If applying online, save a copy of the application and keep a printout of the confirmation page for your records. If you are mailing the aid application, make a copy and get proof of the date you mailed it.

What's Next?

Note: Financial information provided on this site is of a general nature and may not apply to your situation. Contact a financial or tax advisor before acting on such information.

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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

Activity
CD$
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Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.