What Information You’ll Need To File Your Fafsa
To file your FAFSA, first gather all of the documents youll need to reference:
- Your driver’s license and Social Security number
- You may need your parents email addresses so that they can supply their Social Security numbers and birthdates.
- Permission from the family member who completed a tax return if youd like to import information directly from the IRS. If you prefer not to import it, then youll need to provide other financial information:
- Federal income tax return: If youre applying for academic year 2021-2022, youll likely use your familys 2019 tax return.
- W-2 forms
What Are The Federal Codes For The Schools Im Applying To
University financial aid offices use the FAFSA to compile each students financial aid package, so youll need to indicate which schools your FAFSA should be sent to. The FAFSA asks for federal school codes, which you can look up here.
Even if youre not 100 percent sure about which schools youre applying to, come up with a shortlist of up to 10 schools and get your application submitted early you can always update it later.
Does My Student Aid Report Reflect My Application Accurately
Once youve submitted your FAFSA, youll receive a Student Aid Report by email or by snail mail.
Electronic SARs are sent anywhere between three days and three weeks from when you apply, depending on whether youve applied online or on paper, and whether youve supplied an email address.
As long as your application is complete, your SAR will include an Expected Family Contribution, which is used to determine your eligibility for both federal and institutional need-based aid. Once you receive your SAR, review it in detail to make sure all of the information is correct.
What you wont have, until schools send you an aid offer, are the cost of attendance, and grants and scholarships that theyre able to provide to you. To estimate your net cost the amount that youll have to pay out of pocket, or borrow look for online net price calculators on each schools website .
If you want to compare multiple schools, College Abacus connects with net price calculators at more than 5,000 schools in real time.
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The Fsa Id: Your First Step To Getting Financial Aid For College
We all know college is super expensive, and Im sure that you, like me, would welcome any and all help in paying for it. Luckily for us, thats where the government comes in. But how do I get them to help pay my tuition? you may ask. While I cant guarantee you any money, I can tell you a good way to go about getting some of that financial help: Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid . To do that, you are going to need an FSA ID.
What is the FSA ID?
The FSA ID recently replaced the PIN as the way you log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites, including fafsa.gov. It consists of a username and password and is basically the electronic equivalent of your signature. Its easy to set up, and you can get one on a variety of ED websites. .
Incoming College Students
Everyone who will be in college next year and plans on applying for federal financial aid should get an FSA ID. If next year will be your first year in college, just go ahead and create your FSA ID and use it to sign your FAFSA. What happens next is that ED checks your information with the Social Security Administration to make sure it matches. That takes about one to three days. During that time, you will only be able to use your FSA ID to sign your new FAFSA . Then, after the Social Security Administration match is done, you should receive an e-mail letting you know that youll now be able to use your FSA ID on a number of ED websites.
To get an FSA ID, youll need this information:
Not Filling Out The Special Circumstances Form After Submitting The Fafsa
Because of pandemic-related job or wage losses, this may be a year when your familys income is lower than it was for the tax year that generally determines your financial aid awards. Luckily, college financial aid offices offer a special circumstances form for reporting changes in income such as loss of a job, reduced hours or medical expenses. Filling out this form can spur a reevaluation of financial aid packages from federal grants to college scholarships that consider financial need.
Its a good idea to contact financial aid offices first to understand how changes in income will be evaluated. A school that may not normally consider job loss in their special circumstances form might this year.
Fill Out All Fafsa Sections
First, choose the correct FAFSA year. Youll see two options, one for the current academic year and one for the next year. You want next year. Then complete each section.
Be sure to check the box that you want to be considered for work-study. Doing so simply gives you the option to use it if it’s awarded, but down the road when you get your financial aid award, you dont have to accept it if you dont want to.
Many families qualify to use whats called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to populate the student and parent income sections . Youll see a Link to IRS button if you do qualify, which links you to the IRS site with your FSA ID. The DRT populates tax return information directly from the IRS. Experts recommend using the tool because its safe, fast and accurate it eliminates the chance you might make a mistake when entering your financial information. But note that the FAFSA form wont display numbers only the phrase Transferred from the IRS so you wont be able to verify numbers against your tax return.
While the tool to retrieve data from the IRS has been a big help in simplifying families interaction with the FAFSA, there are a couple of DRT caveats:
What Are Important Fafsa Dates
There are a few dates to keep in mind when applying for FAFSA: The school year, the form year, deadlines to submit the FAFSA, and tax information year.
*States and individual schools often have different deadlines for completing the FAFSA than the federal government. Here is a list of FAFSA state deadlines. Be sure to check with your school.
Which Schools Should I Apply To
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid doesnt cost a thing, so you can provide your information to as many schools as youre even remotely interested in attending .
College applications, on the other hand, come with application fees averaging $40, with many schools charging $75 or more, according to U.S. News & World Report. So applying to every college or university you might conceivably be interested in could be prohibitively expensive.
It goes without saying that what youll pay to apply to colleges pales in comparison to all of the expenses youll rack up getting your degree.
Fortunately, there are many tools available to help students get a sense of not only the cost of their degree but the quality of the education they can expect to receive. These tools can help students minimize the student loan debt they take on and maximize their ability to repay it.
The Department of Educations College Scorecard offers data on 7,000 schools, with thousands of data points providing insight key performance indicators like college completion rates, debt and repayment statistics, and post-college earnings.
College Scorecard will let you check an individual schools net price by income, the typical debt load of graduates, graduation rate, median earnings 10 years after entering school, size and makeup of the student body, and available academic programs.
Its Getting Easier To Complete The Fafsa
You can always get help completing the FAFSA. However, technology has been making it easier for students and families to complete the FAFSA. Students and parents can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which will automatically transmit the required tax information to the online application. Another advantage to completing the application online is that as families complete the form, it will automatically skip questions the family doesnt need to complete and only show the relevant ones.
There will be some significant changes to the FAFSA starting in October of 2022. The number of questions will decrease from 108 questions to only 36 questions. Families wont have to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool since the FAFSA will import the information automatically. Students below a certain percentage of the poverty line will automatically qualify for the Pell Grant. The six-year limit on Federal Direct student loans will also be going away.
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The Early Bird Gets More Financial Aid
Ultimately, it is in your best interest to submit the FAFSA and any college specific forms as soon as possible for a variety of reasons. Many colleges will notify you of your acceptance before the priority deadline for financial aid. The sooner they have your financial aid application, the sooner they notify you of your award, and the sooner you can decide if you want to attend the college.
Colleges may award aid as applications are completed. This can apply to both institutional and federal money. In the case of the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, colleges often do not receive enough funding to provide grants to all eligible students. Therefore, the later you wait to submit the FAFSA, the less likely you are to receive some forms of need-based aid or institutional aid.
Some colleges require a completed financial aid application before awarding any merit aid. Getting your award earlier can allow you to appeal decisions before you have to send in your acceptance.
Should I Fill Out Fafsa Before Being Accepted To College
Yes, you can complete your FAFSA® form before applying or being accepted to college. You can apply any time after October 1 for the next school year to ensure that youre eligible for student financial aid.
Remember, colleges will not put together a financial aid package until youre accepted and the Department of Education wont pay out funds until youre enrolled. So, its just as important to get your college applications in as it is to apply for financial aid.
Now that you know that you can, and should, complete your FAFSA® early, lets take a look at how colleges process and consider you for financial aid. Each college and state does things differently, so if you have any questions ahead of getting started make sure to contact the financial aid office at one of your chosen colleges.
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Filing An Incomplete Form
The U.S. Department of Education may not process your form if you leave spaces blank or include inaccurate Social Security and drivers license numbers, Castellano says. Before submitting your FAFSA, double check that all information is correct and no required information is missing.
You also should pay attention to any correspondence you receive from schools or the Department of Education itself requesting information. You may be required to submit extra proof of income, for example. Only submit this information to official sources. The FAFSA also allows changes. You can log in anytime to make corrections.
Understanding Expected Family Contribution: Institutional Method
Colleges that use the CSS Profile in addition to FAFSA calculate a student’s EFC by using the “Institutional Method,” which will likely arrive at a different number from the “Federal Method” because the CSS Profile takes into consideration more financial information.
The College Board further clarifies that “the FM is used to calculate the student’s eligibility for federal aid, such as Pell Grants, and most types of state aid. It’s used by most public universities. Many private colleges and scholarship programs, and some public universities use the IM to determine the student’s eligibility for their own grant funds.” Scoir students can work alongside their parents to use the provided calculator to determine an estimated EFC.
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Is The Fafsa Deadline The Same For All States And Schools
The FAFSA opening date and FAFSA deadline is the same for everyone. The FAFSA for the 2022-23 academic year opened on Oct. 1, 2021. FAFSA forms must be submitted before July 1, 2023 to be eligible. State and college scholarship and grant deadlines may differ and vary widely. Be sure to check both state and college websites for specific deadline dates.
Forgetting Login Or Application Information
The FSA ID is an ID you set up with a username and password when applying for federal student aid. Each person that has to supply informationparents and the studentneeds a separate ID in order to submit income information. Without everyones information, the FAFSA cant be processed.
Before the FAFSA application opens on Oct. 1 every year, make sure everyone has an FSA ID. If a student or parent has applied for financial aid before, they may already have one. But each applicant should take time now to check that they can log in and havent forgotten their password, for instance.
The FAFSA requires financial information such as bank and investment information for each member of the family required to submit information. Have statements from these accounts nearby as well as government ID numbers and Social Security card information.
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Can I Skip Fafsa Questions About Assets
You can only skip FAFSA questions about assets if you meet the qualifications to do so based on your answers to other questions on the application. However, thats only because your asset information at that point doesnt affect your eligibility for federal student aid. You may decide to fill it in anyway, because it may be necessary for some financial aid from your college choices.
When in doubt, sit with your high school counselor or go to a financial aid office at a community college nearby. Some community organizations may also offer free help.
Do I Need To Make Corrections Updates Or Complete A Verification Process
If there is an error on your SAR or your situation has changed, you can make certain changes on fafsa.gov or by mail. Some schools may ask you to verify the accuracy of the information submitted on your FAFSA, so its important to double check each answer.
Congrats! Now get ready to re-submit your FAFSA next year
Getting through the FAFSA is no small achievement, but keep in mind youll have to go through the same process each year youre in school, so use this year as a learning experience to make it easier in the future.
If you had trouble locating the appropriate documents, perhaps add a copy of each document to a FAFSA folder as you come across itfor example, when you file your taxes. Similarly, if you had a number of corrections to make after receiving your SAR, think about how you can be more careful to avoid unnecessary steps in following years.
With the careful completion of the FAFSA each year, youll be considered for the large majority of federal and state funding for school, so its well worth your time to fill it out as you progress through school.
Applying For Financial Aid
- Research financial aid programs early. There are many different types of , and available, totaling billions of dollars. Start researching during your sophomore and junior years of high school, or one to two years before you plan to start college. You can find information at this website at your high schools counseling office at your college’s financial aid office at public libraries or at various lending institutions.
- Early in your high school senior year, or one year before you start college, contact the financial aid offices at the colleges of your choice for deadlines and additional documents that may be required.
- Complete a , which is available to complete online and offers mobile-friendly options or in paper format, as soon after October 1 as possible. You must submit this form in order to be considered for all federal financial aid programs, most institutional programs, and most , including the .
- Students report their 2019 income information on the 2021-22 FAFSA.
- Further details regarding how to obtain the tax information needed to complete the FAFSA are provided on the page.
- If you are an Illinois student who is not eligible for federal financial aid , you may apply for a MAP grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, which is patterned after the FAFSA. For more information, visit the page of this website, and talk with your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college or university.
Start The Fafsa Form At Fafsagov
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