It’s that time of year…….time to get the FAFSA submitted to the department of education. The following is a brief excerpt of that process from www.connectedu.net.
If the task seems overwhelming, visit http://www.dhe.mo.gov/collegegoalsundayFAO.shtml on the web to find locations where professional financial aid officers will be offering free help completing the FAFSA.
In case you were wondering, the acronym FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it’s probably one of the most important forms you will fill out during the college application process.
Whether you plan to attend a two- or four-year college, all institutions require you to complete the FAFSA in order to receive federally funded student aid. The FAFSA helps the U.S. Department of Education and college financial aid administrators determine your eligibility for federal money, including Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study.
The FAFSA form can seem confusing, tedious, and generally overwhelming, but it does not have to be. By understanding the process before you even begin, you can turn completing the FAFSA into a relatively painless process.
Information you will need
There are a number of documents that you will need as you are filling out the FAFSA. In all likelihood you’ll need help from your parents, because the FAFSA requests a considerable amount of financial information.
To simplify the process, the student and parents should gather these documents beforehand:
- · Social Security numbers
- · Current bank statements
- · This year's and last year's federal income tax return (IRS Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ), or W-2 forms and other records of earnings, if you have not yet filed your federal taxes
- · Records of untaxed income: veterans benefits, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and/or Social Security benefits
- · Business and investment records: for example, stocks, bonds, and other investment records, as well as business and farm records (if applicable)
The student should also have the following information on hand:
The earliest you can apply for the FAFSA is January 1st of the year you’ll be attending college. It is important to apply as close to January 1st as possible to ensure that you will receive the best possible financial aid package. If you need to estimate numbers in order to apply this early, do so. You can always go back and make corrections later if necessary.
Do not assume that you will or will not qualify for aid. Keep your options open, because you never know when your personal financial circumstances may change. Having a FAFSA filed could make that circumstance easier should the need arise.
Your Student Aid Report
Several weeks after you submit your FAFSA form, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via e-mail or U.S. mail, according to your preferences.
The SAR confirms the information you submitted and includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC guides the college financial aid administrators in determining your financial need. It is a good idea to contact the schools where you are applying to confirm that they did indeed receive your SAR.
You will have to fill out the FAFSA every year that you are in school, not just the first year. The renewal FAFSA is much quicker and easier to fill out.