Things You Need To Know About FAFSA - Before October 1st
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is an application that college students must fill out in order to be eligible for student aid.
Why is filing FAFSA so important?
Because filling the FAFSA grants you access to the funds that are disbursed every year to students by way of college grants, student loans, and work-study awards. If you don’t submit the FAFSA? You will need to take out private loans instead to fund your education and this can be extremely expensive.
Why October 1st?
October 1st is the day the FAFSA becomes available for the current academic year. Although you will have plenty of time to submit your FAFSA form after October 1st, it is always better to submit it as early as possible. Submit the form as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the higher your chances of getting the maximum financial aid that you are eligible for.
Things You Should Know & Do Ahead Of October 1st - Start Organizing Today!
The FAFSA application is long and has more than 100 questions. You have to answer all the questions and fill in all the details asked for. Otherwise, the FAFSA considers your application incomplete. Leaving out even one question marks it as incomplete. Unprocessed, it denies you access to federal student aid.
To help you stay organized, the website provides a service called myChecklist, providing users with assistance surrounding student aid. The FAFSA asks you for a lot of information regarding your family situation and your finances. You will also need to fill in some personal details. Instead of scrambling after October 1st to get all of the details you need to fill in, why not start getting it all together today? That way you have it ready to go on October 1st and can start filling in the form right away.
Other Details To Consider
These are some details you should have ready before you start filling in the FAFSA:
- Your Social Security Number
- Your Driver’s License Number
- Your Previous Year’s Tax Records: Earlier all tax information was imported directly from the IRS records but this has recently changed. Now families are required to report income information from an earlier tax year.
- Your FSA ID: This is a username and password that is required for logging in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is required for completing the FAFSA process but creating one can take time.
- Your Parents’ FSA ID: Your parents may also need to create an FSA ID if their information is required on the FAFSA form.
- List of Colleges You’re Interested in Attending: You can add up to 10 schools on the FAFSA, so if you’ve got more than 10 on your shortlist, think about which 10 you want to add.
Procrastination Can Cost You
Maybe you don’t have all the information you need ready by October 1st or maybe you think the deadline is some time away so no real need to rush. The truth is, procrastinating and focusing on only the FAFSA deadline is a mistake that can cost you big.
Every college has its own financial aid application deadline. You MUST check the deadlines for each of the colleges you plan on applying to. The FAFSA deadline may be three months away. But if the college financial aid application deadline is earlier, that earlier date is what is crucial. If you file the FAFSA after the college deadline, you will lose your eligibility for any financial aid disbursed by the college.
Also, most colleges and schools allocate limited funds to distribute as award money. They give this out on a first come first served basis till the funds run out. Don’t wait too long to submit the FAFSA. You may be too late to receive any of these reserved funds.
File A Fafsa Application - Even If You Think You Are Not Eligible For Financial Aid
It’s surprising how many students do not file the FAFSA because they think they may not qualify for federal grants. As a general rule, if you are planning on attending college, you should file the FAFSA regardless of family income or any other circumstances. Even if you do not qualify for one type of aid, you still need the FAFSA. It qualifies you for grants, scholarships, and other financial aid awarded by colleges and some states. You can change your mind later and decide not to accept any federal student aid, but for now, get your information ready and prepare for filing the FAFSA on October 1st or at the earliest date after that.