February may be a short month, but it packs a lot of punch.   February marks Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Black History Month, and Financial Aid Awareness Month – a time in the year dedicated to learning more about funding opportunities for college as well as filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  For those readers who aren’t already familiar with FAFSA, it is a free application form that provides students with the opportunity to be considered for federal grants, loans, and work-study funding. It is also used by colleges and universities to assist in making decisions about institutional dollars* (Schools may also require additional financial aid application materials.  For instance, Northeastern requires the CSS PROFILE form in addition to the FAFSA for our incoming undergraduate students).  In the world of financial aid, the FAFSA form is at the core of all decisions, and should be filed annually by the priority filing deadline. Filing by the deadline allows students to be considered for the maximum dollars possible.

At Northeastern, our priority filing deadlines are always posted on our Student Financial Services website found here. Deadlines vary by student population, so make sure to review the appropriate information. For instance, first-year undergraduate day students have a February 15th deadline whereas our returning undergraduate day students have until April 1st to file.

For those who may like further information, below is a video from our friends at the Department of Education that speaks in further detail about how to file FAFSA, tools that are available, and important information to consider.

As a transfer student admitted to Northeastern after taking a couple years off from college, I was a pretty typical undergrad in a lot of ways, but I was entirely independent in managing my finances. This is the case for some students even if they enter college right after high school, so I wanted to write this post about parent involvement (or lack thereof) to get some information out there about handling your financial aid for yourself as a college student.

The first thing you should know is that your parents don’t need to take care of everything for you – it might make them feel better to do so, and it might seem to take some stress off of you. But just so we’re clear, it’s not necessary! Taking things into your own hands will actually benefit you in the long run. You’ll get a better idea of the different options you have for aid, who you can talk to when issues arise, and what kind of loan debt you’re up against when you graduate.

Getting a part-time job on campus is one thing you really have to do for yourself. I started working pretty much as soon as I was admitted to NU, and that was a defining aspect of my college life. I learned a ton about campus operations by being an office assistant, and added some administrative experience to my resume. I helped the Student Employment Office with orientation sessions in the summer, and the number of parents that come in every year trying to get a job for their incoming freshman is unbelievable. I’m just going to generalize here and say that nobody wants to hire someone whose parents do everything for them! Student jobs are still jobs, and it comes down to you to represent your skills and qualities for potential employers. If you’ve never applied for a job before, well, college is a great time to start! The Student Employment web site, accessible through your myNEU portal, has listings for on-campus, off-campus, work study, and non-work study job openings for students.

Aside from employment, financial aid might need to involve your parents to some extent, but you should always make sure you know what’s happening in your name – and what’s not. The Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan is a popular option for domestic undergraduate students who need something to fill a gap between their aid and their costs. It’s a loan your parent takes out in their name, which is nice because your parents almost definitely have a better credit history than you do, and also because yay, less debt for you! Just be aware of what’s happening if you take this route: the loan will remain forever in your parent’s name and can’t be transferred or consolidated with your other loans.

Another thing you’ll most likely need from your parents is their financial information for your FAFSA and CSS Profile. It may not sound thrilling, but you should read over these things even if your parents complete them for you. If your parents are divorced and you’re not sure how they should provide information for financial aid, check out our post about that exact question!

In some cases, students don’t want their parents getting involved at all. You should know that you have the choice to keep your education information private according to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). To see your preferences, you can go to the Self Service tab on your myNEU portal and click the FERPA Status link, found in the Registrar section. You can find more information about this at the Department of Education’s website.

If you’re a graduate student, or if you opted to keep your information private per FERPA, but your parents are in fact helping you out with financial aid paperwork and such, make sure you email your financial aid counselor consenting to let them talk to your parent(s) about your information.

A major reason for this post is just to recognize that every student’s parental dependence is different, and Student Financial Services is here to support everyone. It never hurts to get to know staff on campus, and meeting with your financial aid counselor is no exception. Your counselor can help you get through paperwork, figure out how much loan money you should request, and sometimes provide information about scholarships to apply for. Counselors are available during orientation so your parents can get a chance to talk to them, but they’ll be a great resource for you over the next few years too! Still have questions about parent involvement, or just about financial aid in general? Go to the SFS contact page and get in touch.

Over the past few academic years, families may have noticed a few changes in the type of documentation being requested by Northeastern University’s Student Financial Services Office (and by financial aid offices at large). This change in our institutional process was a direct response to updates made by the Department of Education concerning what type of tax material constitutes acceptable documentation for financial aid purposes.

As of academic year 2012-2013, the Department of Education no longer allows financial aid administrators to accept copies of U.S. tax form 1040 or 1040A/EZ to complete federal verification. Rather requests for tax information can be satisfied through either:

Option 1) Submitting an IRS tax return transcript copy


Option 2) Successfully using FAFSA’s IRS data retrieval tool

Not familiar with either option? Let’s discuss.

IRS tax return transcript: Often confused for a tax return copy, the IRS tax return transcript is a computerized output of specific tax-year data that has been officially received and processed by the IRS. To obtain a transcript, a tax-filer can create an account on the IRS.gov website and request the transcript online. For many tax-filers, the transcript will be immediately available electronically (as long as the tax information has been officially processed by the IRS). In addition to offering access to the material online, the IRS website also allows individuals to submit a request to receive a transcript by mail.

get transcript

IRS data retrieval option: The second option available to students and families is using the ‘IRS data retrieval tool’ offered through FAFSA. This tool is embedded in the FAFSA form itself, and allows individuals to opt into a function that would electronically transfer IRS information directly into the FAFSA. Users will need to navigate through a series of steps to opt into the tool and then transfer the data. If used successfully, users should receive an official confirmation at the end of data transfer. While the tool is pretty user-friendly, unfortunately there are some limitations to who can use the data retrieval tool based on tax filing status and type of return: https://fafsa.ed.gov/help/irshlp9.htm.

For individuals who may have filed a tax extension, filed a foreign return, or for those who may have been victims of identity theft, there may be other materials needed by our office. If you or a family member falls into one of these categories, please reach out to your financial aid counselor so they can advise you accordingly.

Here is another blog post from our student contributor, Christopher!

Every student at Northeastern has a student ID card (aka the Husky Card) that basically acts as a key to life on campus. You need it to get into your dorm; you need it to print documents; you need it to do laundry; and you can use it to pay for things at almost any food or retail location within a 10 mile radius of Northeastern University. However, its most important task is getting you access to the food in the dining halls around campus. Swipes refill every Sunday. And in a basic week if you are eating the normal 2 to 3 meals a day, your swipes are sure to be gone by Friday. This means for the rest of the weekend you will be fending for yourself in order to eat. Or even worse, in my opinion, you don’t use all your swipes and end up wasting 2 or 3 meals. That’s wasted money! Double take, that’s YOUR wasted money and it’s not coming back.

Because handling and using swipes takes so much skill, I have decided to write about the different plans a student can have and the different places on campus to use up swipes.

At this point you should know or have at least heard that there are 5 different meal plans that you can choose from at Northeastern: 19 a week, 15 a week, 10 a week, 5 a week (only available for upperclassmen), and the Profiler with its own subdivisions of choices for students. The first 4 are pretty self explanatory, but I’m sure there are some people who may not know about the Profiler very well, so allow me to explain.

The Profiler is a non-refundable meal plan option that offers meals in block sums of 25, 50, 86, and 110. It last the whole academic year and expires on August 23, 2014. Now, you might think to yourself, “Why would I even consider the Profiler as an option?” Well if it helps –  with the Profiler you never have to worry about wasting any meal swipes in a week because the swipes are there for the whole year. And did I mention that even the largest Profiler option is still cheaper than the 5 swipes a week plan?

Now, let’s talk about the weekly swipes. Here is a quick scenario: It’s Friday morning and you have one meal swipe left. You are not sure what the weekend is going to bring, so you weigh your options.

  1. You could use one of those guest swipes. But what happens when you actually get a guest?
  2. You can just buy food all weekend, but that cost money (sad face).

What do you do? Honestly, I would say take the loss because I can’t help you. The only thing I can do here is teach you how to NOT end up in this position and spend less money. Here are the ways to survive with each meal plan.

19 meal swipes weekly

You would literally need to eat an ungodly amount of food daily to finish this before Friday. Actually, you would have to be the type of person to go to the dining hall 3 times a day, on a normal eating schedule, to even try and finish this by Saturday. For you I have no advice, just a question: How often are you actually finishing all these swipes in a week? Seriously?

Chris Blog 1

Don’t worry, I get it. You’re a Super Sayian. Good for you.

15 meal swipes weekly

The 15 weekly is tricky. In the sense, you feel as though you have enough for the week, so you just use a swipe and then end up totally miscalculating your week. A smart person with this meal plan would not want to just waste these swipes, but instead understand that between Sundays and Saturdays a person normally eats 18 to 21 meals. So this means that if used correctly, a person should be able to get through a full week without starving and only having to go through one day of buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner (brunch, linner, snacks, or whatever people in college actually eat). My advice is that when on the 15 meal plan, you look at the situation as if you have three meals that you can buy in a week. Spread out the times when you buy from restaurants and such, and do so only to change up the flavors entering your mouth when you get tired of the dining halls.

10 meal swipes weekly

I just want to start off by saying if you have this plan, you are worthy of respect and most definitely a survivor of Northeastern. This meal plan is designed for those people who take great time to schedule their weeks; this meal plan is designed for those people with the tongue tasting ability of Chef Ramsey; this meal plan was designed for the freshmen who said, “I can’t wait to have a kitchen.” The deal with the 10 weekly is that it does take a bit of coordination, because essentially, you get 2 swipes every day in a 5 day span. So how do you live? Actually, it’s a lot easier than you think.

All you have to do is to decide which one meal a day is the cheapest for you to buy. If you eat a light breakfast, but like a heavy dinner, then start buying breakfast (and vice versa). An option that I also think works is to just come to the conclusion that you will buy lunch every day. First of all, let’s be real. No one is waking up early enough to get breakfast every day (unless it’s exam week), and most times you end up having 2 meals a day anyway. Also, the majority of restaurants always do lunch specials. This means that you can get more bang for your buck in the time frame of 12 to 5. On top of that, you will always have the guest swipe option for 10 emergency meals.

Chris Blog 2

Yep. That’s got you written all over it.

5 meal swipes weekly

You obviously have a kitchen. I mean, you have to. You are probably an upper-class student with an apartment that has some type of kitchen that allows you to at least to fry an egg. If any of that is false, you better figure out your life and what you will be doing for food this semester. Stealing breath mints from offices is not an option. Neither is signing up for every club on campus to get the free food they offer. No, just no.


Anyone with a Profiler meal plan knows good and well that you’d have to be wasteful to just blow through all your swipes in a month. The Profiler plan is all about moderation. Sometimes you eat at the dining hall. Sometimes you eat out. You have the ability to mix and match your options because your meals don’t expire at week’s end. Take advantage of that. If you have a kitchen then that is even better. Just go to the dining hall whenever you don’t feel like cooking.

No matter what meal plan option you get, there will always be the question of what to do with all those swipes. I guess this is why the campus not only has 3 dining halls (Stetson East, Stetson West, and International village), but also 4 optional eateries (Outtakes, Rebecca’s Café, Deli On the Go, and The West End).Whoa, wait a minute… 3+4 that’s a total of SEVEN locations where you can use your swipes! Holy Pineapples. So, good luck to you and I hope you use your meal swipes wisely!


In my humble opinion, “college” represents the height of a person’s educational experience. It is the time of learning and socializing, a time when students find themselves, and a time when they start figuring out what they want out of life. In a sense, college becomes a threshold of adulthood as students make their first steps toward independence. Exciting, indeed, but as I make my way through my Northeastern college experience, I am learning that the “joys of adulthood” are not all fun and games…

Cash rules everything around me and I am not referring to the song performed by the Wu-tang Clan. There are bills to pay, money doesn’t come easy anymore, and jobs for undergraduates are not that easy to find. So how does a Northeastern undergraduate survive? Honestly I don’t really know, but I’ll tell you 4 tips that have worked for me.

  1. Apply, apply, and apply. Apply for anything and everything you can that will help put/keep money in your pockets. When I started my first year at Northeastern, the first thing I did was apply to many of the jobs offered on the student employment link, under the self-service tab on the myNEU portal. Now, of course I had the option of work study, which gave me more options, but even without work study, the student employment site offers many student friendly jobs around the Boston area. Not to mention the Student Employment Job Fair that happens every year! It is a great way to meet employers face to face (the dates for the fair are typically promoted on the Northeastern Financial Services website, Facebook, and Twitter).  Trust me; a job will make all the difference in your college experience. Yes you may be a bit busier, but from firsthand experience going from not getting a paycheck at all, to having a paycheck come in every Friday,  makes the weekend that much more exciting.
  2. Walk for what you want. Honestly, the stores near Northeastern are not exactly the most price-friendly. We live in the “real” city of Boston unlike other colleges (cough… cough…  BC), so that means unless you walk or take the time to find reasonably priced stores, you will pay the “real” city of Boston prices. If you like having groceries, go to one of the nearby CVS or Walgreens locations. They offer many of the same groceries as the supermarkets and you can get a rewards card that will keep the discounts flowing at the checkout line. If you need clothes, I’ll just tell you now to avoid Newbury Street. If you are looking for great deals on good quality clothes, hop on the green or the orange line and head to Downtown Crossing. A block away from the t-stop is a TJMaxx. You’re welcome.  My point is – there is a whole Boston area worth looking into if you just spend the time doing it. My guess is that most of you are thinking that it’s not worth the time or the effort, or that you have too much work to do. Well, if you really can’t walk – shop online for what you want. There are many sites such as eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and many more that will offer what you need for little to nothing compared to in-store prices. Shopping is a skill and it deserves effort unless you want to just throw away money.
  3. Make your food. Occasionally I will make my own lunch or breakfast. For people with kitchens this will be a little bit easier to do. For those of you still living in the dorms, do not worry.  Just listen and learn. Make cold cut sandwiches.  Everything you need to make a perfect sandwich will fit snug in your mini fridge and does not need to be heated. If you have a microwave, then you can get creative. Buy products like Kraft Mac and Cheese and the new lean pockets (healthier hot pockets), and keep Ramen noodles as backup. I say keep Ramen as a back up because while being the “national dish of broke students” everywhere, it is not the healthiest choice to eat every night and nothing is more important than your health.  There are also things such as bagel bites, pizza rolls, and healthier choices as the microwavable dinners that can make great replacements for that costly Qdoba. But if you do, in fact, decide that you need your weekly fix of take out style food, check to see if your favorite eatery offers a rewards card. This could help you get a free entrée one day!
  4. Use your resources. My last, but most important tip to all Northeastern students is that you network. Not only is networking an important life skill that will help you make friends and get valuable job connections, but it can also save you money. Please don’t forget that the people you meet in college are also the people who will be revolutionizing industries in the modern world. I have a friend majoring in game design who can draw me posters  used for promoting; I have a friend in the school of computer science who can help me reset my computer ; and I have a friend who majors in PE that gives me great workout advice that I would otherwise have to get from a paid trainer. All of these people help me out with these costly tasks for free because I took the time to get to know them and I networked. Don’t stay secluded from your surroundings because you will miss out on the absolute best way for anyone to save money.

So be a thrifty Husky and save yourself some cash!

For those of you who may have applied for Early Action admission, the December 1 priority deadline for submission of the CSS PROFILE is quickly approaching.  If you aren’t familiar with the material, check out this brief fact sheet which will explain what the material is, why it’s needed, and what information you can have on hand that will assist in completing the form.

Simply put, the CSS PROFILE is one of two financial aid application forms required for need-based aid consideration at Northeastern (the other form is the FAFSA). While the 14-15 FAFSA form won’t be available until after January 1st, the 14-15 CSS profile is currently available and should be submitted by December 1, 2013. This will allow Early Action Applicants to receive a tentative financial aid package along with their admissions decision by December 31st.

For students whose parents are divorced or separated, please note that there is an additional component to the CSS PROFILE that needs to be completed by your non-custodial parent. This form is referred to as the Non-Custodial Parent PROFILE.

If this is all news to you, don’t stress. You can still submit the material(s) after December 1st. Late submission doesn’t disqualify you from need-based aid consideration, rather it just means that a tentative award letter won’t arrive until after you’ve received your admissions decision. Once any tentative aid information is available, financial aid information would be viewable on the Application Status Check portal.

But, don’t stop there! Please remember that this package is only our best estimate of aid eligibility to date. To finalize your financial aid awards prior to the May 1st deposit deadline, you will also need to file the FAFSA, which is available after January 1st.  

The financial aid season has officially begun! If you are an incoming undergraduate day student, the 2014-15 CSS Profile  is now available. At Northeastern University, returning students do not need to fill out the CSS Profile.

The CSS Profile is used by variety of private colleges and universities to determine financial aid eligibility.  Unlike the FAFSA, there is a $25 fee required to submit the form.  Eligible families will be offered a fee waiver as a part of the registration process.

Need help? Check out these tutorials on how to complete the CSS Profile and other frequently asked questions.

If you want to know more about financial aid, scholarships and loans, receive updates and reminders about your bills and deadlines, ask questions, and engage in conversation with our office – follow us on Facebook!


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