Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is perhaps the most important step in securing funds for a college education. Scholarships, grants, and other student loan alternatives are always the best sources for college funding, since it is money for college that you will not have to repay. However, most students will need some form of student loans, and the best student loans are federal student loans, which you can only obtain through FAFSA. Here are 10 FAFSA Tips: Applying for Federal Financial Aid:
1. Apply Early. FAFSA has a deadline of June 30th, but some schools require you file even earlier. Applying as early as you can for FAFSA will help ensure you get all the federal financial aid you are eligible for, since some federal aid is first come, first serve.
2. Do Not Wait Until You File Your Taxes. If you have not filed your taxes yet, do not let that hold you back from applying for FAFSA. Applying early for FAFSA is key, if you have yet to file your taxes, you can still file FAFSA and make corrections later.
3. Only File One FAFSA. You only need to file one FAFSA regardless of how many colleges you are applying to. FAFSA will provide your financial information to up to 10 schools.
4. FAFSA and Private Schools. For some private schools you may need to file something called a PROFILE in addition to FAFSA. If you are applying to private colleges, you must contact their financial aid department and see if they require this.
5. Triple Check Your FAFSA Information. Make certain all the information on your FAFSA form is accurate. You will not want to deal with delays in your FAFSA application process as a result of incorrect information.
6. Additional Forms and FAFSA. Some schools may require additional information to be sent along with your FAFSA. It is highly important to know what each school requires when filing for federal financial aid, this will help avoid any delays in the federal aid application process.
7. Do Not Miss the Deadline. Applying for FAFSA early is the best way to go, but even if you do not file early, you MUST file before the deadline to receive federal financial aid.
8. Submit FAFSA Online. Submitting your FAFSA online if the fastest and most efficient way to file. You will need a PIN (Personal Identification Number) which you can obtain from www.pin.ed.gov.
9. Ask Questions. If you have questions or need help filing FAFSA, the best thing to do is ask! Read the FAQ provided on the FAFSA site or use the contact information provided on the site. Asking questions before you hit “submit” can help prevent costly mistakes.
10. Receiving FAFSA Results. Once you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), keep a copy for your records. Compare each schools financial aid award package to determine your best options.