What is really helpful about SSS is that you only have to complete the application once. There is a one time fee of $35. And if you cannot afford the application fee, the fee can be waived by using the special fee waiver code which the school will give you.
Complete the Application
The Parents Financial Statement Instruction Booklet walks you through each step of the process. Remember that you only complete the PFS if the school asks you to. After completing the application, you pay for it - currently a $35 fee - and submit your application. This will do two things: it sends your application to the schools which you have selected and it gives you an estimate of the kind of aid which you can expect to be offered. Now, you must realize that the SSS estimate is only that. Each individual school will determine the amount of financial aid you will receive based on the available pool of funds which each school has available. Actually the schools look at financial aid from the point of view of how much you will contribute towards the fees. That is really what the PFS helps the schools determine in an objective manner.
Observe the Deadlines
Completing the PFS online is not a time-consuming process. But you defintely do not want to leave this to the last minute. You will have to upload documentation to support your applications including W-2's, bank and mortgage statements, investment statements and so on. Assembling all these documents, scanning them and uploading them takes time. If you prefer to mail your documentation, you will need to allow an additional 10 business days before the school's financial aid deadline in order for those documents to be processed.
The SSS Workbook instructions explain all the steps clearly. You should have no trouble organizing your application information and documentation if you follow those instructions. Furthermore, the instructions have helpful tips and examples as well as answers to most common questions right online as you complete your application. But if you get stuck or have a question which is not answered by any of the online materials, SSS Customer Service is available via phone and email in English and Spanish.