What is the FAFSA and how does it work?
How that January 1 has come and gone, it’s time for college-bound families to start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The video below from Censible Student clearly explains the basics of the FAFSA, including what you need to file and how to fill it out.
Even though the FAFSA requires tax information, it’s okay to submit it before you’ve received your tax forms and W2s–just estimate using the previous year’s information. You can always go back and update it once you receive this year’s forms.
While most people file the FAFSA in February or March, be sure to check all colleges’ websites to make sure you meet their deadlines. If you miss the deadline, you should still file, but keep in mind that you may reduce your chances of receiving financial aid.
And remember, it’s important to file even if you think your family won’t qualify for financial aid. Financial aid offices consider many factors besides income, and filing helps you qualify for lower-interest federal student loans and grants.
Filing the FAFSA isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It should take you less than an hour to complete, and it’s totally free to submit. If you’re prompted to pay, you’re on the wrong site, so make sure you only submit your information to www.fafsa.gov. They offer live online chat, a phone number, and email support if you have any questions.