Greetings Parents and Students- Especially Our High School Seniors -2020,

Students should be grateful for the offers of help from their parents – but we all agree and continue to provide support for students taking the lead on all things college application related – with the exception of FINANCIAL AID.
This blog outlines specific tasks to be completed to apply for financial aid and how I  assist in applying for, negotiating and maximizing your financial aid award.
Bonnie Rabin,PhD with student and college application cceptances

College Planning and Financial Aid:

My conversations with families on selecting colleges, including whether to apply ED/EA and the discussion over public vs. private universities have shaped each student’s final list of colleges– a balance between academics, social and financial considerations.  Every student should have a healthy mix of reach colleges and financial-safeties.    No student should apply to any university that they wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to attend.  Your college list is strategic – creating opportunities to leverage up your financial aid awards later this spring.

When do I submit my FAFSA and CSS Profile?

First and foremost, there’s no rush to submit the FAFSA.  Some parents seem to be told by misguided GCs and other parents that doing so gets you more money!  That is false!   Submitting college applications earlier in the process shows more intent to attend and places you on the radar for scholarship consideration.  But the time you file your FAFSA has ZERO impact on the amount of money you’ll receive – short of being filed LATE/AFTER A DUE DATE.  

WHAT’s THE DUE DATE?   IT IS NOT OCTOBER 1, 15 or any October date! It is earlier for Early Decision than for Regular Decision applicants.

FAFSA is now open for filing- and depending upon college’s noted dates, most are in early 2020.  Relax. In fact, if there are changing , unique or special circumstances, please DO NOT FILE until we discuss.  PLEASE CHECK EACH College’s website:

 NOTICE THAT THE FAFSA and CSS PROFILE DUE DATEs for PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS are DIFFERENT FROM CURRENT STUDENTS – here’s the links for a few colleges that might be on your radar.

University of Florida  – December 15, 2019

Cornell University – How to Apply

Everything you need to know about financial aid is  found  in my recent blog –


.   Interested, curious or simply have insomnia-then please pay particular attention to the link to the algorithm page 9 that shows how your EFC is determined – showing the role of both student and parental assets, including any 529 or state-pre-pay tuition monies.  NO WORRIES- please schedule a College Admissions & Financial Aid Planning Session to Discuss YOUR SITUATION One-on-one!!  CLICK TO SCHEDULE with Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD

Financial Aid and College Planning with Bonnie R. Rabin
At this point- every family should be crystal clear on the difference between receiving need-based assistance (financial aid) and receiving merit-based scholarships.  The former- this requires applying for financial aid- and it’s now time!

Parents– it’s now time to begin the financial aid process.

As noted in a few previous blogs,  there are two tasks that parents should complete ASAP.
1– Apply for a student and a custodial parent FSA-ID – this process takes 24 to 48 hours.  Two IDs are required- and these are used in the final submit phase where you provide your electronic signature.
2-  For each university – please verify whether in addition to a FAFSA, a CSS Profile will be required.  Most private universities will require this additional form and it’s submitted through the College Board.   You’ll also find unique questions on assets, ability to contribute and assorted matters that vary across colleges. Please seek guidance in how to reply to these form-fill and narrative fields on the CSS Profile.
Be mindful of due dates- most are in December/January- and some, including public universities and any ED/EA will be as early as November 1.

3-  The easy and uncomplicated FAFSA — you’ll be using the “IRS” retrieval tool and the process to file is relatively straightforward and painless. Make sure your 2018 taxes were filed and uncomplicated – if there are no anticipated income reductions for 2019 relative to 2018- press forward.

Once a FAFSA is completed, you’ll print out and enter the exact same financial data inputs into the required fields of your CSS Profile to avoid any discrepancies that would hold-up or trigger a concern.  This is slightly troublesome if your family divorced or separated during 2018 or 2019 – SCHEDULE WITH ME BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT THESE FORMS.


4-  Unusual circumstances impact the- FAFSA and CSS PROFILE  and if done properly will INCREASE YOUR FINANCIAL AID AWARD LETTER by carefully including the inputs to reduce your EFC.

  • Divorced or recent separation, or blended families,
  • parents on disability,
  • parents who are legally no longer connected to their children,
  • bankruptcy,
  • care of extended family in US or abroad,
  • unusually high medical expenses,
  • job loss,
  • windfall financial gains- divorce, inheritance, one-time financial bonus/gain….etc–All of these situations need to be handled with specialized and knowledgeable attention by an experienced college counselor.
All and any of these– SPEAK WITH ME FIRST on how we include this information on the CSS Profile, status on FAFSA and how and when we will provide information to each college.

5-  CSS PROFILE – Non-Custodial Parent

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times —families in the process of separation/divorce– here’s an important reminder. The FAFSA  will require reporting of the financial information from only one parent – the “custodial” parent.   Parents- please speak with your accountant about the impact of assigning the lower-earning parent as “custodial” if there’s any shared-custody arrangement in place.

In contrast the CSS Profile may require financial information from the Non-Custodial Parent– sometimes things go smoothly but in some families – the process can bring old wounds to the surface and simply be unpleasant.  This requirement will vary across universities and I assure you I can assist while maintaining the privacy and dignity of both parents- our goal – maximize the financial aid your student receives!

***TO DO – review each college’s financial aid requirements-
Look for the following:
  CSS Profile – Non-Custodial Form Requirements
 CSS Profile  Non-Custodial Non-Compliance /Exemption form
Should this be your situation- please reach out for guidance on your individual and unique situation.
6-  EVERYONE-DO NOT FILE YOUR FAFSA in  a batch.  Universities have NO knowledge of where else you’ve submitted a college application-as the Common and Coalition apps are blind to other institutions.  That said, the FAFSA is NOT – and I will show you how to submit your FAFSA one university at a time rather than in batch.  This is very important for highly selective and/or ED/EA situations.
7- Throughout the month of March, it’s time to negotiate your financial aid award -that is why we work together to submit college applications to include “financial safeties”- to leverage awards.
Although FAFSA opened October 1–please understand that there’s no larger award for filing early. Please do NOT rush to submit your form until I work through with you how this process unfolds.
Wishing all  high school and undergraduate students a peaceful and successful 2019-20 academic year.
Warm regards,
Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD
Educational & College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus & Cornell University South Florida Alumni Representative
561.509.0021  or 833.MY.ESSAY