11 Aug Get Your FAFSA Financial Documents Together
Summer is quickly coming to an end, and school will be back in session before you know it. For high school seniors, that means crunch time for college and financial aid applications. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and CSS Profile (if needed) for the 2023-24 college year will be available online beginning October 1. It is important to complete these key financial aid applications as soon as possible so that students receive the maximum amount of financial aid to which they are entitled.
To complete your financial aid applications quickly and efficiently, it is best to gather all of your documentation now so you will be ready to go when the time arrives. Here is what you will need:
- FSA ID: If you have not done so already, create an FSA ID now. This consists of a unique user ID and password which becomes a digital legal signature that lets you complete and update the FAFSA form. Parents of dependent students need to use their own FSA ID to complete the FAFSA process. Do NOT create an FSA ID on someone else’s behalf. Parents should not create an FSA ID for their children, for example, and a student should not create an FSA ID for their parents.
- Social Security Number: Both parents and student need a Social Security number to complete the FAFSA. If you don’t know what your Social Security number is, you can request a new or replacement card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but meet other eligibility criteria for federal student aid, you will need an Alien Registration number.
- Driver’s License Number: Students will need to enter a driver’s license on the FAFSA form, if you have one.
- 2021 Income Information: By now, parents and students should have submitted their 2021 federal income tax returns, and will have access to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to help in completing the FAFSA online. If you experienced a reduction in income during 2022, you will still complete the FAFSA using your 2021 tax information. Save all documentation regarding the change, and then contact the school where you plan to attend, to explain and document the change in income.
- Records of Untaxed Income: The FAFSA asks questions about untaxed income, such as child support, interest income, and veterans’ non-education benefits that may apply to you.
- Records of Assets: Have access to information about savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of investments, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate (excluding your primary residence.) You will report the current amount for these accounts as of the date you sign the FAFSA form, rather than reporting 2021 tax year amounts.
- List of Colleges: Be sure to add any college you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. You can always remove a school later if you decide not to apply, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on financial aid. The schools you list on your FAFSA form automatically receive your financial results, and will use your provided information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive. Be aware that some states require you to list schools in a particular order to be considered for state aid.
I will be setting up CFAA information-gathering Zoom sessions with students to review our plan to maximize financial aid opportunities and make sure all documentation is in order. Please look for my email that lists the information you will need to have available for this meeting.
CFAA helps students who are planning for college with every step, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. If you have not already signed up with CFAA, you can set a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.