It’s Tax Time! College Applicants Beware!

If you don’t have a high school Senior, this message may not apply to you… but please stay tuned to our blog – we’re going to be sending some great material in the next few weeks!

For those of you with high school Seniors…

We’re getting down to the last few months of waiting… Nearly every college will respond to a student by April 1, 2016 with their offer of admission, denial, waitlist, and a financial aid award.

Will the financial aid award letter be the “final offer?” Not necessarily.

Here’s a great video on the Insider’s Guide to Financial Aid – even though it’s a few years old, the process is the same for applicants for the Fall of 2016.

Now that your financial aid forms have been submitted, or soon will be, the next step is for you to have your federal tax return ready as soon as possible.

Some colleges will require you to submit a signed copy of your return as early as March 1st.

This DOES NOT mean that you have filed your taxes prior to the tax deadline of April 15th — you just have signed copies ready to go.

Schools will request your returns because your student’s name:

  • Was selected at random by the Federal Government for a process known as Verification
  • Applied to a college that requires you to mail or fax signed copies of your tax returns directly to the college
  • Applied to a college that uses the Institutional Documentation Service or IDOC to securely transmit them
  • Applied to a college that verifies tax information directly through the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), or will ask for your Tax Transcript

Not meeting a college’s tax return requirements may not necessarily reduce or rescind a financial aid award. But most financial aid awards will continue to be “provisional” until your taxes have been received by the colleges. If you can’t or don’t meet the college’s tax return deadlines, please have them completed as soon as possible.

For example, MIT asks parents to submit a hard copy of their 2014 tax return now, if they won’t have their 2015 taxes done for IDOC by February 15, 2016.

If your student did not file taxes for 2015 (or is not required to), and a college still wants the student tax form, you may have to file the “non-tax filer IDOC form” to complete the financial aid requirements for the school. Make sure you look up and obtain that form, if necessary.

A great place to find pertinent information is the Financial Aid web page of the college(s).

Stay on top of your emails, and have your student applicant (aka: high school Senior) keep an eye on their email – on a daily basis! Don’t miss replying to important forms, on time! Or you’ll find yourself, out of time… and out of money for college!

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