woman filling out form

Should You Fill Out the FAFSA?

Should you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)? Many experts say yes, because money is available and having filed it initially gives you more options.

Most Colleges only require that you fill out the FAFSA to qualify for financial aid, but some also require the CSS Profile.

The form is filled out online at:  https://fafsa.ed.gov.  

Some great reasons to fill out the FASFA

  1. Your student may qualify for aid, and may receive it from an institution (although every situation is unique).
  2. Some internal school scholarships are predicated on having filled out the FAFSA.
  3. It allows your child to take out a Stafford loan, which is low interest, and gives your student a stake in this expensive endeavor.
  4. If you have more children that will be going to college while this student is, your chances of receiving aid in the following years is much higher.

Is filling out the FAFSA difficult?

No – the Obama administration has had it streamlined significantly so it should take about 30 minutes.

What do you need before filling it out?

  1. A pin number that you should put into a safe, accessible place.
  2. Your most recent tax return. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible in after October 1st.
  3. Almost every College has different deadlines by which your FAFSA information needs to be filed in order for you to get the available money. Check the dates by going to each college’s website, or just fill it out by January 1st and be ahead of the game.
  4.  List every school that your student wants to apply to in alphabetical order. This has been a big controversy lately, as some colleges decide how much money to give you based on where they are ranked by your student. Alphabetizing the list prevents this.

Websites that you might find helpful:

www.fafsa.ed.gov – Main website. Videos available on the site about how to fill it out.

www.studentaid.ed.gov  – Different types of aid available to students. How to repay your loans, etc.

www.pin.ed.gov – Pin website. Write it down and keep it somewhere handy.

Respond promptly to any additional requests for information, so that you get processed in the first wave of applicants.

Good Luck!

diploma and gap

What Will a 4 Year College Degree Give You vs. Just a High School Diploma?

About $1M more dollars in salary over your lifetime

A Longer Life Expectancy

More Savings as an Adult

The Ability to Move From Job to Job and City to City if You Want to

Better Decisions on What You Buy

More Hobbies & Leisure Activities

Better Health

More Job Security

Feeling More Optimistic About the Past and Future

Why Go To College:

Where Else Can You Live with Tons of People Your Age

Meet Interesting Fun People

Try New Activities Free

Go To Concerts Free

See Free Movies Shown at the College Before They are on Video

All You Can Eat Buffets Everyday

Join Weird Clubs

Start a New Weird Club

Travel Abroad

Visiting Colleges

Planning

Plan your college visit ahead of time and see a number of suitable colleges in the same geographic area. You can use the website GoSeeCampus.com, and click on Trip Planner which can show you routing from one university to another, as well as nearby hotels. Also, when you input each college on the list it usually gives you links to the colleges’ websites so that you can sign up to attend the information session and the tour. Then it will tell you the distance between the schools, and the roads that you can take. Google Maps also works well for trip planning. Do not plan to visit more than two colleges in a day, as it becomes very stressful and hard to remember the details of each college.

Do You Need to Visit

The general rule of thumb that college admissions counselors use is that if you are within four hours of the school, you should take the time to visit the college to show that you are truly interested in them. Further than four hours the school does not require it, but you will need to show interest, see this article Demonstrate Interest. Most big universities do not track your interest level at all, as it is mostly a numbers game for them. If you have chosen the right classes, you have a GPA the college looks for, and test scores in the college’s range, you should get admitted. Touring colleges will hep you determine what is important to you and broaden you understanding of choices, Options for Visiting a College.

Being Engaged

This college visit is an important opportunity for you to really understand what the college can offer you, and if it is a good fit. Do not let your cell phone or a conversation with a friend distract you from this task. Decide which of these questions you want to ask the tour guide, Questions to ask on a College Visit. Silence your cell phone and be engaged so that you have accurate memories.

Eat at the College

I generally recommend that people go to the cafeteria and eat, so that you have an idea of the quality of food and the atmosphere. Additionally you can either observe students or sit down and talk to some and get a more candid picture of the college. You can learn a lot from students who are on campus and they should answer your questions honestly. Just remember that there are many opinions, but the more information that you have the better your decision will be.

Interviewing

I always recommend visiting schools when they are in session so that you can get a better feel for their students and the atmosphere. This can be done during any holidays or spring breaks, as well as quick visits on Saturdays. Most colleges give two tours on Saturdays and some also do Sunday tours. Going in the fall can be a very busy time for colleges, so you may need to plan quite a bit ahead to make sure you can be part of the group. If it is a college that recommends that you interview with an admissions representative on campus, make sure that I have time to prepare you for the interview.

Use My Checklist

Use a checklist to write down your thoughts, so you won’t confuse information from one college campus with another. While you are on the tour ask questions that you have to the tour guide or the person running the information session. Just realize that these people are not always candid, and most are being paid by admissions to represent the college.

After the visit take the time to record what you really liked, as well as the aspects that you did not. Think about whether that school could be your home for the next four years. Put an approximate rank on the school and feel free to change that as you go. These notes will help you when you need to make a decision at the end.