Make friends with the FAFSA! The FAFSA opens on October 1 and following these easy steps will help make filing the FAFSA a breeze!
1. What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step in determining your need-based eligibility for financial aid. Filing the FAFSA will show you if you qualify for FREE MONEY (grants) and federal student loans. Did you know the federal government, states, AND colleges and universities can all offer grants to students who qualify?
2. Not only is the FAFSA FREE to file, but it also allows you to send your FAFSA results to 10 or more schools you are considering.
Although the FAFSA determines your need-based eligibility, some colleges require it for scholarship consideration too. All colleges have different costs and it’s important to know your bottom line at each one.
3. What do I need to do in order to file the FAFSA?
You’ll need to sign up for an FSA ID and gather your family’s financial documents. The FSA ID is your legal signature when you file the FAFSA. You and one parent will need an FSA ID in order to submit your FAFSA. Sign up for your FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov. It’s as easy as signing up for an Insta account! You will also need your social security number, federal income tax returns, W-2’s, and other records of money earned. Bank statements and investment account information are also helpful, so keep that info handy.
4. Filing the FAFSA is easy and convenient!
You can file on the web or download the “myStudentAid” app on your smartphone. The FAFSA uses “skip logic” and only asks you questions that are relevant for you. And the best part? It only takes about 45 minutes or an hour to complete.
5. File early
The FAFSA opens each year on October 1. File early to have full consideration for federal, state, and institutional grants. Some states and schools have deadlines or award grants on a first come-first served basis. The faster you run, the sooner you’re done! Oh, and you get to file the FAFSA each year you are in college!
6. File the FAFSA as a family
Financial aid is a family affair…sit down together with your parents to complete your FAFSA form online. Although the application belongs to YOU (the student), most students are required to include parent information when they file. Is there any better way to bond than talking about how you’ll manage the investment of your college education?
7. Double-check your work
Make sure the information you include on the FAFSA is accurate. If you make a mistake, you can always correct it, but you want your information to be processed quickly so you can make your college decision.
8. And most importantly…JUST FILE!
Even if you think you might not qualify. All students who file the FAFSA will be offered an optional federal student loan. If you and your family plan to borrow money to help manage the cost of college, this is the best place to begin.