Fall is just around the corner and, as high school seniors start down the road to college, activities will start to occur in a fast and furious manner. The best way to handle everything that needs to happen to get into college is to be prepared. Know your college admissions and your college financial aid deadlines and plan ahead. To apply for college financial aid you will need to be prepared to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
The FAFSA for the 2018-19 academic year will be available online October 1, 2017. You want to be prepared to complete it as soon as possible after it is available in order to open yourself up to the greatest possibility of receiving federal and state financial aid, along with institutional financial aid from your selected colleges. The FAFSA is also required to determine your eligibility for student loans when that becomes necessary, and is even used by some scholarship grantors. All of this makes it a very important document that is well worth your time investment.
Even though it might seem like there is sufficient time before October, time can slip by very quickly. That’s why it is necessary to be prepared in advance. The first thing you will need to do, if you have not done so already, is obtain your FSA ID by creating a unique username and password. This will give you access to the online FAFSA application and other information, and will also serve as your legal signature for submitting the completed application. Once that is in place, start gathering the following documents and information:
• Social Security Numbers for students and parents, or Alien Registration Numbers for non-U.S. citizens.
• Driver’s license.
• Access to your 2016 federal income tax return. Currently the online IRS Data Retrieval Tool has still not been enabled to populate your income information automatically, so you will need access to your tax information to input it manually.
• Any applicable bank statements and records of investments to document additional income.
• Records of untaxed income, such as child support.
• Names of potential colleges.
Independent students will only have to provide their personal information, while dependent students will need to provide it for themselves and their parents. If your financial situation changed dramatically in 2017, you still need to report the 2016 information, but be prepared to state your case directly to your selected colleges. When you are ready to begin filing your FAFSA, be sure that you only go to the Federal Student Aid website at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. You can also use this site to find information on college costs, graduation, and post-college earnings.
Learn more about completing the FAFSA in my book, Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro! You’ll find complete information on financial aid, saving for college, paying for college, and student loans. Order it now, and make your journey to financial aid a success.