It’s time! …to fill out the FAFSA that is.
If you are planning on attending college in the fall it is essential that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student (or otherwise known as the FAFSA), even if you think you will not qualify for financial aid. At the very least, you will have completed the proper form to take out a federal student loan. The FAFSA should be submitted each year you are enrolled in college before January 1. Check with your college or university to see when they want you to file the FAFSA because many schools will have a certain date they want you to complete the FAFSA by in order to receive the maximum consideration in financial aid, particularly gift aid – free money. All schools are not the same, so it is important to check the date for each school that you have applied. Indiana residents – it is important that you complete the FAFSA no later than March 10 each year to be considered for state grants.
- The FAFSA can be completed and submitted electronically at www.fafsa.gov.
- Apply for a PIN now! The PIN (personal identification number) will serve as your electronic signature and is required to submit your application online. You and a parent, one with whom you live, will each need a PIN. You can apply for the PIN at www.pin.ed.gov. Keep this PIN safe, you will need this number to submit your FAFSA next year.
- Complete the FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) Worksheet before beginning the arduous task of filling out the application. The FOTW Worksheet will help you collect the required information you may not necessarily know off the top of your head.
- It is best to have a completed federal income tax return (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) for the most recent tax year (2011 for the 2012-2013 academic year) since many of the income questions on the FAFSA link directly to a specific question on the tax return.
- Answer each question on the FAFSA as it is asked. The FAFSA is a standardized application and does not take into consideration special situations. If while you are completing the FAFSA you believe there is more information to be shared about your family’s ability to contribute towards your college expenses than what is asked for, make a note and contact each of the schools to which you are applying to see how you make them aware of these special circumstances.
- Don’t forget to hit “submit” when you have completed the application. You can save your work if you need to come back to it at another time, but a saved application will not be processed and the information will not be sent to your schools of choice.
For help in completing the FAFSA, contact the financial aid at your college or university, attend a Financial Aid Night coordinated by your high school or attend College Goal Sunday.