All college students, whether they attend a public or private institution, are able to apply to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if they will qualify for aid. I applied for the first time with help from my college counselor at school and with my parents because my counselor spoke Spanish and was thankfully able to translate. Sigh. This was not the case with the CSS Profile because my school did not have sessions for it since they did not really have the expectation that anyone would attend a private college and might as well figured that if they were, we could figure it out on our own.
The CSS Profile is an application for financial aid for private institutions. Smith is a private college, so I had to apply that year as well as every year when the ending of spring semester rolls around. The CSS Profile is not free, you pay a fee of $25. However, as an incoming first year student who is applying, fee waivers are available (that means I paid the 25 bucks this year). The kinds of questions that are asked are things like are you a beneficiary to a trust fund, do you have any assets, or investments? This was completely foreign to me and it made me nervous knowing that I was most likely attending school with other students who actually fill in the blanks where I input zeros. Once I got to Smith, I also could not wrap my head around how some of my classmates have their parents fill out all these necessary forms or them. As a first generation student with parents who don’t speak English, these forms have become quite familiar to me now because I fill them out every year. I laugh about it now because I seriously do things like ask my little sister to send me pictures of my parents income taxes because they don’t know how to use the scanner and do not have email addresses. Then I transfer this information through the pictures while calling my dad over the phone as I try my best to translate this foreign financial language to yet another language, Spanish.
This process is a bit frustrating to me every year, but I have gotten the hang of it and my parents are becoming more familiar with this process too. After turning in my CSS profile before the April 1st deadline this year, my mom told me, “I am so thankful that your little sister will be able to have you when she has to fill this paperwork out when she gets to college. We won’t be as lost anymore.”
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