Analyzing Questions on The Profile Form

3122 0

If you are reading this section, that means you are willing to fill the PROFILE along with the FAFSA. Before starting to fill the PROFILE, thoroughly review the instructions after you register. The forms are customized according to your responses at the time of your registration.

A two-letter three-digit help code follows every question. We are simply taking a guess that the order of the questions will be similar to the previous year. If there are any significant changes made to the form, you should adapt to the form accordingly.

How is profile different from FAFSA?

There may be some special instructions provided online which you must follow, and based on your registration responses, you may not have to answer every. You should not create a notion that FAFSA and PROFILE are very much similar. Keep an eye on the important differences between both the forms, some of them are listed below:

  1. The “real estate” should not be included as an “investment” on the PROFILE form. It comes under a separate category of “other real estate”.
  2. The PROFILE wants you to list the “What is it worth today” (value) and “What is owed on it” (debt) separately. The College Board will then do the subtraction for you to determine your net assets.
  3. You can skip the asset questions on the PROFILE.
  4. Do not list amounts in cent. Only whole dollar amounts are expected. Do not use the dollar sign- just list the dollar amount. Do not use commas to separate numbers. If you want to write $46,404, write it as $46404. Use minus sign before any negative numbers; do not use parentheses.
  5. The PROFILE tips are mostly for the students living in U.S, as a major portion of our readers live in the U.S. Most of the questions for the international students do not correspond to items on the FAFSA.

PROFILE Section – Parent’s Data (PD)

Note: Refer to the appropriate instructions for the PROFILE, because maybe you were not required to fill the purple shaded parent information section of the FAFSA, but you may have to complete the parent’s section of the PROFILE.

QUESTION- PD-100 through PD-285

In this section, you got to have the skills to underrate things for betterment. When you are asked to list down the occupation of parents, try to be as humble as possible. If you exaggerate your parent’s profession, then you should leave the hope of getting sympathy, and a good aid from the FAO.

For PD 145-170 and PD 240-265, you are required to write down various retirement programs that may yield fund at some point in the future. You have to mention the programs, even if you are not receiving any such funds now.

Pd-165 and PD-260 covers questions regarding any fund, which you have contributed to, such as- 401 (k) s, 403 (b) s, 403 (b) s, a TDA plan and/or other tax-deferred retirement plans. The total value of such plans has to be listed in PD-175 and/or PD-270.

List zero if you have no fund, or contribution to the above mentioned accounts.

PROFILE Section- Parent’s Household Information

This question is similar to question 73 on the FAFSA. The exception to this case is for the families that have to include other children, solely because they cannot be considered as independent.

For PROFILE, other children can be considered as a part of the family if they receive more than half of the support from the custodial parent(s) and/or, custodial stepparent (if applicable).

This exception can also be considered, If the student’s parents have not married, but live together in certain states,

The question is similar to the question 74 on the FAFSA.
This question is meant for the remarried custodial parents.
If you have not got this detail, then leave the space blank. If, the student’s parents are separated or divorced, list the email address of the custodial parent.
This question is same as question 75-79 on the FAFSA. If the parents have received any benefits during the last 24 months, then answer this question with “yes”.
Same as question 84 on the FAFSA.

PROFILE Section- Parent’s 2015 Income and Benefits (PI)

Total number of exemptions. Same as question 87 on the FAFSA.
This question is a bit tricky, and is designed to check how true you were while reporting your income. The college wants a more precise information about your income. If you have already done your taxes, and have constructed a draft version of your taxes, as we had instructed, then you may not face any problem in answering this question. The formula which the college uses is, (sum of PI-105 through PI-125) minus PI-130. The result must match with the answer of question 85 on the FAFSA as well as PI-135

NOTE- Use minus sign before any negative numbers.

Same as the question 85 on the FAFSA.
Same as the question 86 on the FAFSA.
If you have completed your tax returns, then answer the question by referring to the appropriate line of your federal return.

If you have not completed your tax returns, then refer to question 93a on the FAFSA.

If you have not paid any post-secondary school tuition during the previous calendar year, then the answer to this question shall be 0.

f you have already filed your 2015 income taxes, then refer to the last line of the schedule A of the IRS 1040 for the answer to the question.

If you have not filed a schedule A and took standard deductions, enter “0”.

Same as question 88 and 89 from the FAFSA respectively.
Same as the question 93e on the FAFSA.
The questions PI-185, PI-187, PI-190, PI-192, PI-210, PI-211, PI-215, PI-212, and PI-225 are same as question 92 on the FAFSA. The institutional methodology excludes any social security benefits received by the student. So, the PROFILE form now asks you to list down only those untaxed benefits that are received by the parents for all the family members, except the student.

If you have not paid any post-secondary school tuition during 2015, then the answer for question PI-195 is 0.

PI-200 asks for any pre-tax contribution to Flexible Spending Accounts for the dependent care and medical spending accounts, and/or to Health Savings Accounts.

Do not include deductions for health insurance premiums. For PI-225, you should complete the PROFILE worksheet as per the instructions.

Some other important questions in this section are listed below:

  • PI-205. Earned Income Credit. The earned income credit is given to the lower income individuals, who earn at least some of their income from work.

    So to answer this question you must refer to the appropriate IRS line references, (If you have completed your tax returns for 2015).

    If you have not yet completed the tax returns, then consult your accountant and the IRS worksheet in the tax return instructions booklet to determine the amount of credit

    If your income is higher, and you don’t qualify for this credit, then you must answer “0”.

  • PI-165. Social Security Benefits. The question is not about the social security tax (FICA) that you may have paid on your income; rather it is about the
    untaxed social security benefits, which you may have received for other family members, excluding the student during the entire year.
  • Be sure to not to double-count the amount. Include only the untaxed portion of the benefits.
  • Benefits received by the parents for their children are considered to be a part of a parent’s income for financial aid purposes. This is an advantage, as the parent’s income is accessed lightly as compared to the student’s income. But the sad part is, benefits received for other children will also have to be included as a part of parent’s income

PROFILE Section- Parent’s 2015 Income and Benefits (PP)

This question relates to the figure of the year previous to the base income year. The processor wants to know, if there were any major change in income between the two years.

If you had filed the tax return for the year 2014, then refer to the 2014 returns, if not- then leave the question blank. Some IRS line numbers will have changed from 2013 to 2014.
Include the same types of incomes and benefits as in PI-165 through PI-225. Refer to PROFILE worksheet as well.

PROFILE Section- Parent’s 2016 Expected Income & Benefits (PF)

Obviously, if you are asked to write down the future estimates, there is no question of getting into trouble if the numbers are off a bit. Though there are very few schools who use this data to change your aid, still try not to exaggerate.

This question can be of benefit for some people who have been terminated, laid off, have received notice that they will be laid off, or are self-employed but out-of-work due to harsh economic conditions or a natural disaster. The FAO can use his professional judgement, and ignore the income you had in the base income year to decide aid for you. This can save you thousands of dollars.

Some important points for this section:

  • The instinct tells you to write the income same as you had last year. If you are about to get a raise, but have not yet received it, then don’t mention about it. If you are out-of-work, then show it to the FAO as a disaster, and make him feel that you may not get employed by the next year.
  • If you are self-employed, use your expected NET business income, not the gross
  • Nobody knows how much importance the college gives to the question in this section. So, try to reflect any negative thing that is going to happen to your income in the upcoming year. Don’t rely on the FAO to take projections into account.

PF-100 and PF-105. Income earned from work. Though the questions may seem to be similar to questions PI-155 and PI-160, but they are not the same; PF-100 and PF-105 count as income questions this time. Be careful not to double count your income. If you project that you will be contributing to deferred compensation provisions next year, you should include the contribution as regular income earned from work for that year and exclude them from PF-115, untaxed income and benefits. Do not count them twice.

**No matter what the instructions say, you should not include the IRA and Keogh contributions or the amount of the tuition and fees deductions as a part of untaxed income for the coming year.

**Do not include the combat pay which should be included in PF-100 and PF-105.

**If your upcoming years income is going to be less than your base income year’s income, and if you are not applying to the college that require you to fill the PROFILE, then you must separately write to the FAO, telling him about your situation.

PROFILE Section – Parent’s Assets (PA)

Read the PROFILE instructions carefully before answering the question.
Include the same investments and debt that you had used to calculate the answer for question 91 on the FAFSA, except for the real estate other than your home and/or any student-owned Coverdell/529 plans.
If the parents own other real estate or if the student owns any Coverdell/529 plans, then the “value” minus “owed” answers to this PROFILE question will not necessarily be the same as FAFSA 91.
If you have rented your home and live in other owned real estate – You will not be asked the question. Rather, you will be asked to include the value of this other real estate as a part of question PA-180.
This is just a double verification that the college does to check, if you have low-labelled the price of the house.

The price of the house is “0”, if you have inherited the house, and if you have constructed the house on your own, then the total value of the house is the cost of the house plus the cost of the land.

This question asks you to list the value of any other real estate owned by the parents, which you had included as a part of FAFSA 91, and any debts against the real estate included as part of FAFSA 91.

If you own more than one real estate, you should list appropriate information for one of the properties in PA-190 and PA-195. Later in the section, when asked about the ES of the PROFILE, you should break out the individual elements for each of the properties.

If you do not own any real estate, then you should list “zero” as the value for the debt, and the purchase price.

PROFILE Sections – Business Assets (BA) and Farm Assets (FA)

The questions in these sections, basically relate to the Self-employed people, and Farm owners”. Unlike the FAFSA, people are asked to note down the value and debt on the “Family Farm, and “Family Business” separately.

  • If you have already listed the farmhouse in the question PA-130, then do not include its value in question FA-120.
  • If you list more than 100 employees for all business entities in BA-130 and “no” for all entities in FA-135, then the sum of your business “value” minus the sum of your amount “owed “on the business, is the answer to BA-120, BA-125, FA-120.
  • The answer to FA-125 should be the same as FAFSA 90.

PROFILE Section – Parent’s Expenses (PE)

This section involves question relating to 2015 and 2016. We recommend you to use annual figures only, and enter zero whenever appropriate.

If your answer to the question 93b is “0”, then list “0” for the PE-100, and answer the PE-105 accordingly. Otherwise, you should refer to the “child support you paid…” in FAFSA 93b. List the same dollar amount for PE-100. Then, give your best estimate for 2016.

Those who were not required to answer purple shaded part of the FAFSA, should refer to the PROFILE instructions for this question.

Read the question and instructions carefully, and include the repayments done for the loans.
The parents underrate these kind of expenses, and many a times don’t report them. These expenses can also be of help. Remember to report all the expenses paid through credit card, even if they have not been cleared yet.

List all the health-insurance premiums paid, and medical-related transportation costs. You can also include other medical related expenses. You should include any kind of medical expenses that come to your mind, as you don’t really know which expenses can be advantageous.

If you are self-employed or own 2% of the shares of an S corporation, you may have already taken the self-employed medical insurance deductions on line 29 of the 1040 form. Be sure to exclude those medical insurance premiums if you have already deducted them. After you have out 2015 expenses, project 2016 as best you can.

These are calendar year payments and not academic year payments. According to the instructions, you cannot include any private school tuition for the student who is now applying to the college.
Include any mortgage or debt against your primary home, condominium, or cooperative apartment, as well as the maintenance fees, and home equity loan payments. Otherwise, list the monthly rent paid by you. These numbers are not factored into the formula.
If asked, list your best estimate for each of these items for the entire year.

PROFILE Section – Information about Noncustodial Parent (NP)

Most of the divorced, Separated, or never married parents are very excited about this question “Does this mean they are going to track down my ex-wife and ask her to pay for part of our son’s college bill?” Well, this can happen, but most of the times it is not the case. You can consult experts @ Collmission to learn more.

PROFILE Section – Student Data (SD)

The questions in this section are self-explanatory types, and these questions intend to learn about a student’s school information for 2015-2016, state of residence, citizenship, and student benefit information.

Some questions in this section are only meant for the international students.

For independent students, the answer must be same as the answer for question 95 on the FAFSA. If the student is dependent, then most likely he/she won’t be asked this question.
Independent students can also include their parents, in response to the question (if the parents qualify as household members, and the student pays half the support for his/her parents)

PROFILE Section – Student’s 2015 Income and Benefits (SI)

Same as question 38 on the FAFSA.
Same as question 36 on the FAFSA.
Same as question 37 on the FAFSA.
Same as question 44a on the FAFSA.
Usually most of the students do not itemize their deductions, yet if somebody decides to do so, or has already done so, then the answer to this question shall be the same as the bottom line of schedule A of the IRS 1040 form.
Same as the questions 39 and 40 respectively from the FAFSA.
This question is intended to double check the student’s asset during the base income year. The asset that you enter here should match with the dividend and interest income reported to the IRS.
Read the PROFILE instructions before answering the question. Unlike the FAFSA, the amount of social security benefits paid directly to the student, needs to be reported on the PROFILE (SI-140), although such benefits will not affect the family contribution figure, calculated by the PROFILE processor.


Most of the students may not have any untaxed income items for this section, but if your child has got any untaxed income, or may be some of which were not required to be reported on the FAFSA 45, may have to be listed on the PROFILE form.

If your answer for FAFSA 44c and FAFSA 44d was “0”, then answer “0” for this question as well. If not, then the answer for this question will be the sum of your responses for FAFSA 44c, 44d, and 44f.

PROFILE Section – Student’s Expected Resources (SR)

The FAFSA does not ask you about the veteran’s educational benefits, but you may have to list it on the PROFILE.

You will have to list it on your PROFILE-

If you receive or expect to receive any such benefits between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. You are also required to include the number of months for which you expect to receive these benefits during that 12-month period.

As we had suggested in the Student’s income section, you should aim for “0” student’s school year income (excluding the work-study income).

If you still can’t avoid earning during the school, then try to keep it as close to the standard amount that the colleges ask you to earn, during the summer months under the institutional methodology (which is $1,800 for a freshman, and $2,450 for an upperclassman).

If you are going to estimate the amount, then always keep it on the lower side, while answering the questions SR-110 through SR-130. Most likely, the college is going to use the institutional methodology to determine the student’s contribution from income.

If there are no other sources of income for the student other than work, then enter “0” for SR-130 to SR-145.

Questions SR-120 and SR-125 are only meant for married or remarried category students.

This question is meant for the ones who have, or are about to receive any outside grants and scholarships or any award through AmeriCorps benefits. Remember not to include any of these until it has been received.

If the student has not received any official confirmation from any outside organizations at the time you are completing the PROFILE form, then list “0”.


Remember not to include any award from the college or universities to which you are applying for aid.

While answering the previous questions, you were required to show these numbers to be as low as possible. If there are no tuition benefits received, then answer this question with “0”. If there will be benefits, then enter the least benefit, that you are going to receive from the list of colleges you have applied to.


  • SR-156 to SR-158 apply only to international students.
  • U. S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens are required to answer these questions with a “no”, until they receive any benefit from any government other than the U.S. federal government.
students, the best way to answer this question is by estimating the Expected Family Contribution, using the methods and strategies we have listed before, and then understating the EFC by 30%. If, anybody overstates the EFC, then the college holds them responsible for the higher figures of EFC.

If you are an independent student, and expect any help from the family, then understate the help a bit. If not, then write “0”

Before answering this question, make sure that you have thoroughly read and understood the help comments for Direct Payments to the Schools, that is available online.

PROFILE Section – Students’ Assets (SA)

The answer to this question will be same as the question 41 on the FAFSA. If you are a FOTW (FAFSA on The Web) filer, and if you were eligible to skip the question because you met the SNT or the Automatic Zero-EFC, then, you must follow the PROFILE instructions for this question, in order to find an answer.
Most of the students are not likely to have IRAs, Keoghs or other retirement accounts, so the answer for them will be”0”. If any student has any funds in these types of accounts, then they are required to list the value as on December 31, 2015, and not on the day they fill the form.
The “value” of the students’ investment, and “the amount owed” on the students’ investment should be listed separately in different questions.

The answer should include investments and debt against investments, which you had calculated when you had answered FAFSA 41. You should exclude the trusts and real estate other than the primary residence, and Include the Student-owned Coverdell ESAs and student-owned 529 plans in your response to this question.

The questions from SA-130 through SA-135 are meant to double-check, and verify whether or not you have labelled the value of your real estate correctly.

If the student doesn’t own any real estate, then he/she should go back to the registration area, and check his/her responses.

The value and “debt against the value” of the real estate owned by the student, should be listed separately for different questions.

If the student doesn’t own any Coverdell/529 plans, then the sum of the “value” (amounts) from SA-110 and SA-140 minus the sum of the “What is owned on it” (amounts) in SA-115 and SA-145 must equal Question 42 of FAFSA.

The formula goes something like this-
(SA-110+ SA-140) – (SA-115+ SA-145) = Question 42 of FAFSA.

Unlike the FAFSA, the PROFILE includes the value of a “family business” and “family farm”. If, the student owns any farm or business, the “value” and “what is owned on it” must be listed here.
Leave the question blank if the student doesn’t own any business.
Leave the question blank- if the student doesn’t own any farm.

If your answer for this question is “yes”, and/or your answer for SA-165 is “no”, then your answer for SA-150 minus your answer for SA-155 must equal FAFSA 43.

You are required to answer these questions (only if you had included the value of any trust as a part of FAFSA 42). Otherwise, list “0” in SA-170 and skip SA-175 and SA-180 (If asked).


The “Trust” in this question doesn’t refer to the regular type of bank account that is maintained by one person “in trust for” another person.

PROFILE Section- Student’s 2015 Expenses (SE)

These questions are predominantly aimed for independent students. In very few cases, the dependent students are also required to answer them.

Child support paid. Same as the question 44b on the FAFSA.
The medical and dental expenses paid for the student, by the parents should not be included here. Do refer to the PROFILE instructions before answering this question.

PROFILE Section– Family Member Listing (FM)

Write down the number of members in the family, excluding the student and the student’s parents. If you include the student and the parent (s) /step parent in the household members, then your answer should agree with the answer you gave for PH-100.

The questions in this section will ask you to list down the schools, that other family members have attended during the 2015-2016 academic year. If none of your family attended the school, then leave this question blank.

Since it is not an expense question, so the parent’s contribution should only include their part of tuition, room and board.

You will be required to write down details like-

  • Which of the family member will be attending the college, on what basis (full-time, half-time).
  • Name of the college, university, or other post-secondary institution they will be attending in the 2015-2016 academic year, as well as the type of school.

The status of the students (full-time, half-time) can have an effect on state aid.

PROFILE Section – Explanations and Special Circumstances (ES)

Until and unless you are asked to explain about any PROFILE items, we suggest you to leave the section blank.
If you have got special circumstances, and you want to put them in the focus of the college, then you should write a separate letter to each college.
For most students this is the end of the PROFILE form. But, depending on the college and the program, there may be some more additional questions that you have to answer.

PROFILE Section – Supplemental Questions (SQ)
The questions in this section vary, and the variation entirely depends on the college.

But, it seems a safe bet to assume, as majority of the questions will be based on details regarding the items previously listed on PROFILE, or about additional assets or resources, that are not reported previously.

These are a few points that you should keep in mind while going through this section:

  • Read the questions carefully, and answer the required questions only. Try not to disclose more information, and answer to the point.
  • Do not exaggerate anything and avoid double-counting the assets.
  • Remember to include all allowable expenses and debts.
  • Keep the information that you provide in sync, with the information that you had previously provided.
  • If you are asked to explain any responses in section ES, be sure to do so.

For now, you have totally completed the PROFILE form. Save the data and/or put your work copy of the forms away. When in a fresh mood, some other day, recheck all the responses that you have provided, and make any required changes if you feel so.

In this article

Join the Conversation