Happy New Year also means Happy College Financial Aid Season!
If you are the parent of a senior, January 1 marks the opening of Financial Aid season. Many seniors have already received word regarding other forms of aid, such as merit scholarships. Need-based aid assessment (grants, loans, work-study) begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Several websites offer help filing the FAFSA for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. Do not to pay these sites for assistance that you can get for free elsewhere. The official FAFSA is at fafsa.gov.
Some tips to filing the FAFSA:
1. GET AN FSA ID BEFORE YOUR START.
You will need an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. Your FSA ID also can be used to sign loan contracts and to access certain information online. You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the FAFSA, but you also have the option to get it ahead of time. Find out how to get an FSA ID and what to do if you forgot your FSA ID. You can get a FSA ID prior to starting your FAFSA. It only takes a few minutes.
2. GATHER ALL THE DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO APPLY.
If you are under 23, you will need your parents’ or guardians’ information as well as yours. The information you will need for the FAFSA includes:
• Your Federal Student Aid ID (the FSA ID is a username and
password you can create on the FAFSA website)
• Your Social Security number (found on a Social Security card)
• Your driver’s license number (if you have a driver’s license)
• Your and/or your parents’/guardians’ most recent federal tax
returns (IRS forms 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A)
• Records of money earned, including W-2 forms and recent
• Alien registration numbers or permanent residence cards, if
you or your parents/guardians are not U.S. citizens
3. DOUBLE-CHECK DEADLINES.
You have to file the FAFSA no later than March 10, 2016. This is a State of Indiana deadline and must be met to qualify for any State need-based aid.
Check with your college or colleges you hope to attend to make sure they don’t have an earlier deadline. Some may want information earlier than March 10th.
There may be additional requirements such as the CSS Profile, a College Board product. It might be required by some select private schools. Please check the school’s financial aid site to make sure that other paperwork is not required.
Help is always available from any school’s financial aid office. Also, College Goal Sunday is a great way to get help from area professionals. Find more information here:
College Goal Sunday