8 things to remember about the FAFSA & Financial Aid
Getting ready to go to college or have a child who is?
It’s time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Many parents and students have misconceptions about what the FAFSA is and who should fill it out. Some families don’t bother because they assume they make too much money to qualify for federal aid.
But confusion about the FAFSA can cost you–you may lose out on financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and student loans.
How to fill out your FAFSA correctly
Keep these 8 things in mind when filling out the FAFSA and applying for financial aid:
- Financial aid isn’t based on income alone. You may be surprised to find out you qualify for financial aid after all. You’ll never know unless you apply!
- Many private colleges use the College Scholarship Service, or CSS, and Financial Aid Profile in combination with the FAFSA to determine your financial aid eligibility. Just because you don’t qualify for financial aid at one college doesn’t mean you won’t at another. Make sure you fill out the CSS profile as well if you’re applying to or attending a college that uses it.
- You have the complete the FAFSA every year you’re in school to qualify for financial aid next year. So even if you’re a college freshman, sophomore, or junior, you (and your parents) aren’t off the hook!
- Just because you didn’t qualify for financial aid one year doesn’t mean you won’t the next year. Be sure to submit the FAFSA every year so that all of your family’s current financial and personal factors are taken into account.
- You can complete the FAFSA before you file your taxes. Since some colleges have FAFSA deadlines that are before the tax filing deadline, it’s important to complete the FAFSA as early as possible to maximize your chances of receiving financial aid. If you haven’t received all of your W-2s or other tax forms yet, you can use estimates and edit the FAFSA later once you have the accurate numbers.
- Federal student loans are part of financial aid. To qualify for lower-interest subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford and/or Perkins loans, you need to fill out your FAFSA. Otherwise, you may be forced to look to private loan lenders and borrow at higher interest rates.
- Older and/or nontraditional students should fill out the FAFSA too. Federal student aid programs don’t take your age into consideration, so you can still get financial aid even if you don’t attend college right out of high school.
- Even if you support yourself and file your own taxes, you must include parent information on the FAFSA if you are considered a dependent for financial aid purposes. To find out if you’re considered a dependent or independent student, click here.
Finding free FAFSA help
Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA by watching this helpful video or by going to www.fafsa.gov. You can also check out these 7 myths about the FAFSA and applying for financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education.
There may also be a free FAFSA filing event in your area. Check out this post to find out if there’s one happening near you in the next few months.
And if you need help applying for financial aid or figuring out how to pay for college, don’t hesitate to give Rick and Andy a call at 1-888-234-3907 or contact us using this form.
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