Understandably, many families have questions on how to best submit the documentation that many schools require as part of the financial aid process. Our goal is to make the process of submitting documents as easy as possible so we’ve put together some tips to help you in the process.
As a first step, we suggest you view the documents required by the schools you are applying to. They can be found in the PFS Online, under the "Manage Documents" tab. Please keep the following in mind as you go through the process:
Your list of required documents is not immediately visible upon completing your PFS
. Your required documents only appear in “Manage Documents” tab of the PFS 24 hours after your PFS has been submitted and paid for. They will appear in the “Required Documents” section of the page. So, pay for your PFS and make a note to return 24 hours later to assure that you are meeting your requirements. You have the option to either upload required documents or mail them to SSS but uploading is faster
. Your documents will be marked as received much quicker if you upload them through the PFS Online.There’s a difference between you uploading your documents and your school receiving them
. If you are uploading documents online, use the upload wizard in the same “Manage Documents” section mentioned above. Within 5 minutes of your upload, the name of the document and the upload date will appear in the “My Uploads” section of the page. It’s important to note, however, a distinction between uploading your documents and fulfilling your requirements. SSS is required to review the docs, verify their authenticity, and label them for our use. This process typically takes up to 3 business days.You need to verify that your documents have actually been received by the school before you can be certain that your requirements have been fulfilled
. Approximately 72 hours after your documents appear in the “My Uploads” section of “Manage Documents,” you should make sure they now also appear in the “Received Documents” section of the same page. Only then, can you verify that you have fulfilled our requirements.Only upload your documents once
. Remember, just because your documents do not appear in the “Received Documents” section does not mean that your upload was unsuccessful. Look for them in “My Uploads” and then return 72 hours later to see if they have been marked in the “Received Documents” section. Please be careful not to upload your documents more than once – this can cause an erroneous calculation of your income and adversely affect your opportunity for an award.The time it takes to verify your documentation will not make your submission late
. While there is a time lag between when you upload your documents and when the system recognizes them as “received,” the good news is that will not adversely affect your application’s timeliness. All documents will be stamped with the date they were received for processing – whether mailed or uploaded. As an example if you upload your documents the day before your application deadline, they will be time stamped on that day. The system will not show them as “received” for another 72 hours, but that does not mean that they will be considered late. It’s the date you upload them, not the date the system recognizes them, that will determine if your application was completed on time.Turn off your pop-up blocker
. Families should always turn their Pop Up Blocker off when working in our system. Use another browser besides Google Chrome
. Families have reported timing out issues when using Google Chrome so you may want to consider using another browser while working in the PFS and uploading your documents.Mail Documents
At any time, you have the option to submit required documents to SSS by mail. Just download a cover sheet
and make sure to mail your documents at least 10 days before your school deadlines time. You will find our regular and overnight mail addresses on the cover sheet as well.
The Upload Document feature is secure and easy for families to use. After paying for and submitting your application, you will see a tab in the PFS Online called “Manage Documents.” In this section, you will be able to see what documents have been received and processed by SSS and those still outstanding. From that same page, you can print out a cover sheet if you choose to mail their documents or you can upload your documents.
Files may be in any of the following formats: PDF, JPG, TIF, GIF, Microsoft Word (doc), or Excel (xls) although it's important to note that the system can only accept files under 5MB in size. Before uploading, families should cross out any Social Security Numbers or band account numbers on their documents unless it’s the IRS Form 4506 which requires a Social Security Number to process.
Follow these directions when uploading documents into the PFS Online:
Decreasing File Size Tips
- Under the "Document Type" dropdown, select the document you wish to upload.
- Under the "Document Year" dropdown, select the year of the document you wish to upload.
- In the "School" dropdown list, select either "All of My Schools" or click on one of the individual school names.
- Click on the "Browse" or "Choose File" button, select the file to be uploaded, and click the "Upload Documents" button.
- Repeat for each document you want to upload.
It’s important to note that the system can only accept documents under 5.0 megabytes in size. Here are some tips for ensuring that your documents do not exceed the 5.0MB limit:
Decrease resolution. If you plan to scan a paper document, scan at a low or medium resolution, and in black and white. Choose an image file for your output (like .jpg or .gif or .tiff). Your exact options for scanner settings will vary depending on the make and model of your scanner or the type of scanner software you use, but you likely are able to select the "resolution" and "file type" of your scan.
Determine size. If you have a document saved, but don't know how large it is, here's how you find out: Open your document. At the top of your screen, under the "File" menu, look for an option called "Document Properties." This will tell you the date the document was created, the type of file, and the size of the file.
Save As. Open your pdf document. Under the File menu, select "Save As." Save the file as a new name, or use the name it had previously, and press OK to save that file on your computer. (The "Save As" function in Adobe Acrobat simply saves a file more efficiently than the "Save" function, therefore reducing its size.)
Compress files. There are also a number of free software tools available to compress large files. Just Google “compress PDF” for a variety of options. While we do not endorse the use of any specific tool, you can find one example from CNET here.