Financial Aid Instructions and Definitions


Too much jargon? Need some clarification? The information below may help.

For U.S. and Canadian Applicants


  • On all documents, use the best figures available to you and estimate, if necessary, to meet deadlines. Do not leave any answers blank. Enter “0” or “N/A” if the question does not pertain to you.
  • Complete copies of 2012 federal income tax returns will be required before financial aid is considered final, and awards may be revised if figures differ substantially, so it is important to estimate carefully.
  • Keep copies of all completed forms for future reference.
  • Refer to your 2012 federal income tax forms and corporate or partnership returns, if appropriate. If you have completed your 2012 federal income tax returns, please send signed copies of all pages and schedules to the College.
  • Canadian financial aid applicants do not need to file the FAFSA or the International Student Financial Aid Application. Instead, submit the College Board CSS Profile and your 2012 federal tax forms by the deadline.

The most common errors on financial aid applications

  • Family members’ ages omitted from family member listing. This information is necessary in order to calculate savings allowances for siblings’ education and/or retirement reserve allowances.
  • Untaxed income incomplete. Be sure to check your W-2 forms (boxes 12 and 14), year-end pay stubs, and other records.
  • Breakdown of student income omitted.
  • Book (depreciated) value of business/rental assets reported as current market value on Business/Farm/Rental Property Supplement or in parent(s) asset section of the College Board CSS Profile form.
  • Second mortgages and equity lines of credit unexplained.
  • Student’s expected resources for cost of education omitted.

Completing the College Board CSS Profile

The student and the parent(s) with whom the student lives should complete the College Board CSS Profile. If that household includes a stepparent or parent’s partner, the stepparent’s partner’s information must also be reported on the forms. See definitions, below. For federal definitions of custodial parent and stepparent, please refer to the FAFSA.

Does Your Family Have Special Financial Circumstances?

If you and your family have been experiencing financial hardships that may affect your ability to contribute to the cost of education, please let us know by sending additional sheets directly to Colby. We’ll need specific dollar amounts in order for exceptional circumstances to be considered. For instance, if you’d like to tell us about family members who have attended college in the past but are not listed on the FAFSA, please include names of institutions, dates attended, and amount of parent contribution to the cost of education.

Financial Aid Definitions

  1. Other Records: Include pay stubs, bank statements, personal accounts, trust instruments.
  2. Parent(s)/Custodial Parent: The parent(s) under whose roof the student lives more than 50 percent of the time. If the student is away at school, the parent under whose roof the student lives more than 50 percent of vacation periods. This is not necessarily the same definition used by courts, the IRS, or other agencies when parents are legally separated/divorced.
  3. Noncustodial Parent: If the parents are legally separated/divorced, the biological/adoptive parent with whom the student does not live at least 50 percent of the time; this is not necessarily the same definition used by courts, the IRS, or other agencies.
  4. Stepparent: If the custodial parent is currently married to a person other than the student’s biological or adoptive parent, that person’s financial information must be reported on the profile form. For federal definitions of custodial parent and stepparent, please refer to the FAFSA.
  5. Partner: If the custodial parent has cohabited and commingled economic resources with another person for more than two years, but is not technically married to that person, then ignore references to marital status or gender of either parent and report the income, assets, and financial obligations of your family as if marriage had taken place. The partner’s tax return or non-filer’s statement should be mailed to the College in addition to other required financial aid paperwork.
  6. Untaxed Income: All money that is paid into an account that is yours (e.g., that was withheld from your pay and deposited into a retirement, medical expense, or dependent care account), or is paid by another on your behalf (e.g., free housing), or is paid to you and not reported on a federal tax return as income (e.g., tax-exempt interest or dividends).
  7. Federal Income Tax: The amount of tax indicated by the tax table. Amount indicated is after adjustment for credits but before reduction for taxes already paid, the amount withheld from paychecks, or the amount you owe in addition to what was withheld.
  8. State and Local Taxes: All taxes paid to states and local governments, including income, real estate, and personal property taxes. If you itemize deductions, refer to Schedule A, line 9.
  9. Current Market Value of Home and Other Real Estate: The amount for which the property would sell if you were to put it on the market today, NOT the insured, tax assessed, or book (depreciated) value. You may wish to check your local newspaper for prices on similar properties or obtain an informal market analysis from a local realtor.
  10. Investments: Include stocks and bonds. Do not include trust funds or other real estate on the investment line as these are reported separately.
  11. Money Owed to You: Money loaned to another person, business, or other entity. This includes the remaining balances on installment sales. Enter the amount still owed to you today.
  12. Retirement Funds: Formal tax-deferred pensions, annuities, and savings plans. Include SRAs, 401Ks, 403Bs, 408s, 457s, 501Cs, and IRAs.
  13. Parent(s) Contribution: The amount the parent(s)/stepparent with whom the student lives think they can contribute to the cost of education (tuition, fees, room, board, personal expenses, books, and transportation). Include only amounts from current income and assets, not amounts parents expect to borrow to help pay education expenses.