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
- Your student may qualify for aid, and may receive it from an institution (although every situation is unique).
- Some internal school scholarships are predicated on having filled out the FAFSA.
- It allows your child to take out a Stafford loan, which is low interest, and gives your student a stake in this expensive endeavor.
- 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?
- A pin number that you should put into a safe, accessible place.
- Your most recent tax return. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible in after October 1st.
- 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.
- 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.