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Articles / Paying for College / Sending CSS Profile and FAFSA Follow-Up Letters

Jan. 28, 2017

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!

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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