January 22, 2018

A Guide To The FAFSA Application

Happy New Year!  I hope that you have all had a restful time with your families and you’re now ready to tackle the New Year with gusto!  If you are a high school senior interested in attending college next year, it is time to file the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).  The Federal Student Aid program provides loans, grants and work study incentives to college students and the application opens January 1st of each year.  So – if you want to see if you qualify for any financial aid, this is where you start.

FAFSA

Filing the FAFSA may make your piggy bank bigger!

Log on to the FAFSA website to begin the process.  Be aware – there are several similar sites that will assist you in filing the FAFSA for a fee. You can file the FREE application yourself.

The first step is to establish a logon ID using the student’s name, social security number, and date of birth.  This FSA ID will also be used to electronically sign your FAFSA application once you have completed it.

Once you are in the application system, you will find there are quite a few questions asking for both the student and the parents’ identification information, income and assets as well as the student’s plans for school.  If you are completing the application online, you have the option of linking your FAFSA application to the IRS website so that most of the information can be transferred directly over from your tax return(s).   If you have not yet filed these returns, you can enter estimated information and file an update once your taxes have been completed.  Because some financial aid money is issued on a first-come basis, I recommend that you use this option and file sooner rather than later.

And, don’t be overwhelmed if you feel this is a lengthy process.  You can choose to save your information and pause midway through the application, returning at a later time to complete the submission.

Once you have completed all of the input, you will be presented with your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) number.  The EFC is used by the individual colleges to determine how much aid you may qualify for at their institution.  Aid may come in the form of a grant (money that doesn’t have to be repaid), a position in a work-study program (a job to help pay your tuition) or available student loans.  Current student loan interest rates start at about 4.29% but are subject to change yearly.

Whether or not your student qualifies for financial aid this coming school year, continue to file a renewal application every year that they are attending college.  Family circumstances or eligibility criteria may change.  And the FAFSA is not just for young college students – returning college students (translated: even parents) can apply as well.

Most every state also has its own financial aid program.  In Florida, you will want to file the Florida Student Financial Aid application along with your FAFSA.

~to your success!

Joanne

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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