Applying For Financial Aid

Drishti10 (anonymous)

I am currently doing my A LEVELS 2nd year. By doing early decision, I expect to start college by Fall or Spring 2017.

  1. When is the right time I start looking for financial aids?
  2. What is the whole detailed process of applying for financial aid?
  3. What things or documents do I need to make ready by now?
  4. How do I actually apply for financial aids and how does it work?
  5. Is getting a financial aid and getting scholarship different? And, does one affect the other?
Siddhant_Agrawal answered
Siddhant_Agrawal 335 Rep.

Hi Drishti,

Thank you for raising these important questions, which likely baffle a lot of applicants in the beginning. While Deepak dai has already done a wonderful job of giving a detailed answer, I would like to add some points.

Sending CSS Profile costs money – a good deal of money as far as an average Nepali citizen is concerned. Often times reaching out to colleges about the financial burden that the cost of CSS will impose on your family will elicit a sympathetic response from them. While some of them will allow to you submit ISFAA (which is free), others will provide you with a CSS Code, which will enable you to file your CSS for free 🙂 Be mindful that there are colleges which won’t be able to help you!

Next, I will try to give a comprehensive list of what documents you MAY need for applying for financial aid, and briefly outline why those documents are needed.

  1. CSS Profile/ISFAA/College Specific Fin Aid Application: Colleges will ask you for one of these three documents to get a sense of the finances of your family — income from different sources, expenditures in different areas, bank balance, property, etc. While it is best to have accurate numbers on this application, approximations are totally fine. Also, remember that some colleges have their own application, what I have called above College Specific Fin Aid Application, for collecting all this information, like Bates College does. So check the website of the colleges you apply to. From experience, CSS Profile collects a lot of information from you and is time-consuming, so please plan accordingly.
  2. Tax Receipt/Income Statement: To verify your family income, colleges will ask you to send them your tax returns. In Nepal, we don’t file tax returns. Here, we pay taxes and get a proof of the payment. Sending that to colleges will do the job. However, you may have to get the proof (receipt?) notarized — colleges ask for documents translated in English. Or, if your parents are service holders an income statement from the company will suffice.
  3. Business Supplement/Farm Supplement: If you parents own a business or a farm, likely colleges will ask you to complete this form. Sometimes they may have their own customized application to collect such info, like Williams College did when I applied. If your parents get audit reports prepared, filling out this form is a lot easier. And, this document is free! It works like ISFAA.

Most likely, this is all that you will need to submit. However the documents asked by colleges can differ. So you may keep in mind the following documents too:

  1. Bank Statement: If you parents have large savings from which they plan to pay for your college expenses, colleges might ask you to provide a proof of those savings. It is better to have this document ready because if you get accepted, colleges most likely will ask for it, unless you are on a full ride. Request a copy of bank statement of your parents’ savings to you bank. It’s usually an easy process.
  2. Property Evaluation: If you mention about property owned by your parents/you in your Fin Aid Application, some colleges can ask for Property Evaluation report. If you go to an accountant, he should be able to help you for a fee. The consultancy right opposite to the US Embassy in Kathmandu provides this service.
  3. Non-tax Filer: If your parents don’t file tax returns, colleges ask you to complete this document. Its basically asking your parents to verify that they don’t file taxes. Again, this is free.

This is all that I can think off the top of my head. If I find something more, I will update the list. Good luck!

Siddhant_Agrawal edited answer
Deepak Shah 2.01K Rep.
  1. FAFSA is a form to be filled by the citizens of United States. Colleges use this form to understand the financial background of a student. It cannot be used by International students. For Internationals, we use CSS or ISFAA.
  2. Generally there is a 15 days timeline after you submit your application to submit the financial aid application. For most colleges financial aid application for ED are around November 15 or December 1. For RD, it is around February 1 or 15. You need to check college websites in specific to see what date they have mentioned. You send this financial aid before you get the acceptance. Your financial aid need will affect your acceptance decision for most colleges (need-based colleges).
Deepak Shah answered

Thank You for ur detailed answer. But, then

1) What is FAFSA? What is the difference between FAFSA and these forms?

2) When do I send my application for aid to colleges? Should we send it along with appication packet or after I get acceptance letter from the college?

Anonymous answered
Deepak Shah 2.01K Rep.


  1.  Right time to start is NOW.
  2.  To apply for financial aid, you need to fill CSS or ISFAA. CSS is online form that costs $25 to send to 1 college.- this is the link: https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile  Not all students are able to pay that cost and so ISFAA is the alternative. ISFAA is an offline form available at: https://earlham.edu/media/2475619/2016-17_International_Student_Financial_Aid_Application_Secured%20(1).pdf The CSS and ISFAA do primarily the same thing. They are applications distributed by the College Board allowing college students to apply for financial aid. They are primarily designed to give colleges and universities a closer look into the finances of a student and family. They ask questions about the financial status of the student and the student’s parents.CSS is much more detailed than the ISFAA. While ISFAA can be filled offline and later send it to the colleges or universities via email, CSS needs to be filled online. Each CSS Profile costs a fee, varying from year to year but ISFAA is free of cost. Obviously, you might wanna go ahead with ISFAA but not all universities accept it. As always email the admission officers first and ask if sending ISFAA is an option or not.

    ISFAA is quite simple to fill compare to CSS. You download the latest form and fill out by hand and scan and send via email or upload as mentioned in the college’s website. You should better ask the admission officer about what you must do.

    In case of CSS fill up the form online and submit online after paying some money.


    Regarding bank related documents, you better try to gather your parents tax form, parents property audit report and bank statement. All colleges will not ask for these documents. You can ask the admission officer about which documents to submit.

    You might be asked to present these documents during visa interview.

    And if you are in Kathmandu, please go to USEF. They provide detail information session on these forms, how to fill, and the bank documents.

  4. You can apply online- CSS or scan, print, fill, scan and then email back the ISFAA to the college.
  5. Most colleges have need based aid for international students and you will most international students qualify for that. If colleges do have other scholarships (not common) Merit based, sports scholarship,arts scholarship, then your application may also be considered for these scholarships. But generally it is just the need-based aid.

If you have more confusions, ask follow up questions.

Deepak Shah answered


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