Fall can be a challenging time for high school seniors with college applications, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (otherwise known as FAFSA), and searching for scholarships. The 2024-2025 FAFSA will come online in December, which will condense this year’s application cycle, so it’s important to be on top of getting this task off your to-do list! Remember, every student should complete the FAFSA. Without it, colleges cannot provide financial aid offers or determine who is eligible for what amount of support.
When you begin filing the 2024-2025 FAFSA, here are some of the key steps you will need to make so you don’t miss out:
Get an FSA ID:
Both students and parents of dependent students need an FSA ID to log onto the FAFSA site and electronically sign the application.
Gather your information:
Have materials you will need readily available before you start, so you won’t lose momentum each time you need a new piece of data. Gather Social Security numbers, driver’s license information, and income/investment information. FAFSA is using the Federal Tax Information tool to gather data this year – read up on that here.
Complete parent and student information:
Both the student and the parent or parents of dependent students must provide financial information. Be very sure you understand who can be listed as your parent for financial aid purposes.
Supply college names:
You will be asked which schools are to receive your FAFSA. Have your list of colleges available, and determine whether your state requires them to be in any particular order. If you have more than twenty colleges, you can go back later and update your list.
Receive your financial aid award letters:
Your FAFSA information is reported to the colleges on your list to be used in making their final aid determinations. You will be sent a separate award package from each college.
Some common missteps could delay or impact the amount of financial aid you receive so be sure to take your time and avoid these common errors:
- Not completing an application at all: Don’t put yourself out of the running by not even applying.
- Proofing errors: Check your application carefully before sending it in. The name you use must exactly match the one on file with the Social Security Administration.
- Missing a deadline: There are several types of financial aid deadlines. Miss one and you could miss out.
- Paying a fee: Although you may want to pay someone to help you complete your application, there is no fee to file a FAFSA.
- Failure to sign: Use your FSA ID to electronically sign your FAFSA before submitting it online.
Break down each part of the FAFSA and other applications into manageable tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – especially from us here at College Financial AId Advisors. Remember, to take your time, and make sure you get it right the first time. Delaying the process only adds more stress for everyone involved. Good luck!
Want More Help?
CFAA helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.