Filling out a FAFSA application (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is intimidating, especially the first time you do it. What makes it so scary is that your child’s college financial aid process hinges on it in such a big way, as scholarships, grants and government loans are awarded based on the results.
I’m not gonna lie. I’m sooooo glad my kids have both graduated college, putting the FAFSA years behind us, but for those of you who need to fill out the FAFSA application, here are some tips to help take some of the fear out of the process.
Tips To Help You Prepare for the FAFSA Application Process
1. Fill out the FAFSA application beginning January 1st for the current school year.
2. You’ll need a FAFSA pin (FSA ID) number, which you can obtain during the FAFSA process, but it speeds things up if you have it in advance.
3. Check when the FAFSA deadlines are for your state and the schools to which you’re applying. You’ll want to have your application submitted as early as possible, as awards are handed out on a rolling basis. A good rule of thumb is to submit the FAFSA by February 1st each year.
4. Use an online tool to help navigate the process. Discover Student Loans introduced a free interactive tool that offers tips and advice families can use when preparing to complete the FAFSA. The interactive tool advises families on which documents to have ready, and there are articles, videos and resources to answer questions and help navigate the financial aid process.
— For more information visit www.CollegeCovered.com, a site designed to help students and parents plan and pay for college.
5. Parental income will need to be included, so tax returns need to be filed ASAP. An estimated income can be listed, but it needs to be updated later and could affect award status if it changes.
6. Be wary of fake FAFSA sites which try to capitalize on misspelled url’s and similar names. The official site for FAFSA is fafsa.ed.gov, and the application process is free. If you’re being asked for an application fee, you’re not on the proper website.
Do you have any other helpful tips to prepare for the FAFSA application and financial aid process?