FAFSA season begins on October 1st. Getting an early start is the best plan of action.
MONEY FOR COLLEGE STARTS WITH FAFSA! Everyone should complete a FAFSA which can qualify you for grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and work study. The FAFSA is, The Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Here is a short list of information you will need to gather before you start to make FAFSA completion simpler and easier.
- FSA ID – A FSA ID is required for both the parent and the student and must be created at studentaid.gov prior to completing and submitting your FAFSA. For a quick video tutorial to create your FSA ID, click here.
- Prior Year Tax Returns for Student and Parent – Have on hand copies of your entire Federal Tax Returns for both the parent(s) and student, as well as, student and parent prior year's W-2s.
- Student’s School List – Have a list of schools for which the student has already applied or is planning to apply. By entering these schools into the FAFSA form, schools will be notified of your FAFSA completion in order to calculate any aid they can offer upon acceptance.
- Parent’s Date of Marriage or Divorce – Will require month and year only.
- Account Balances – Check your accounts for the most recent balances in both parent and student checking and savings accounts. Also, if applicable you will need provide balances for additional investment accounts such as: Stocks, Bonds, 529 Plans, Mutual Funds or CDs. You WILL NOT need to report retirement account information.
- If Applicable, you will also need to have on hand:
- If not a U.S. Citizen, Resident Card Number will be required
- Annual amounts of untaxed income received in household (child support and yearly contributions into 401K or 403B accounts)
- If you own a business that employs more than 100 people, you will need to know for FAFSA completion the total value of the business (buildings/equipment), and how much you owe on the business
Now for some additional reminders:
- Check to see if any of the schools you are interested in require a CSS Profile to be completed in addition to the FAFSA.
- For more information on financial aid sources and more, download our Financial Aid 101 guide.
- The College Planning Center is currently accepting appointments to assist you in completing your FAFSA or CSS. Go online to book free phone appointment today.
Lastly, once your FAFSA has been completed and submitted, expect variations on aid packages. Even at competing schools, financial aid awards can vary by quite a bit. Because your aid packages will vary in terms of allocations between grants and loans, it’s important to read carefully. And remember – you can always appeal your initial aid package if you’re concerned that the award doesn’t accurately address your financial situation. Start with a call to the school’s financial aid office and ask about their internal appeals process. Remember that they want to work with you towards your student's eventual enrollment after acceptance.
The FAFSA process can seem daunting, but worth your time to complete. Ask questions, keep track of deadlines, and remember – there is no more important variable than the FAFSA and other financial aid forms required by your schools when seeking financial aid.
For assistance in completing your FAFSA, book a phone appointment with the College Planning Center today!