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FAFSA Filers… Start Your Engines!

The FAFSA is sometimes considered the single most important part of the financial aid process for any college bound student. The FAFSA helps to let schools know just how needy you may be when it comes to your ability to pay for college. Universities and colleges use this information to round out any merit based aid you already qualified for with federal, state and institutional need-based aid. (Click here for a better explanation of merit and need based financial aid)

Beginning January 1st, students and families are eligible to start filling out the FAFSA form for the upcoming academic year. You can do it one of two ways: the sleek and streamlined online version or the antiquated but equally effective paper version. The choice is yours but I always recommend the online version more now than ever.

The following are a few tips you can utilize to help you through the FAFSA filing process:

  • Never pay anyone to file your FAFSA. The first F in FAFSA stands for FREE and there are a number of for-profit companies that would be glad to submit your FAFSA for you and charge you a fee.
  • Gather all the required documents before you start. This would be W-2’s, 1040’s, untaxed income records, current bank statements and investment statements.
  • Whenever you are asked for dollar amounts, always round up or down to the nearest dollar. Don’t use commas or decimal points.
  • When entering dates, don’t uses slashes or hyphens to separate the fields. For example, August 19th, 1974 should be 08191974
  • Make sure both the student and the responsible parent electronically sign the FAFSA using their individual Federal Pin.
  • Take your time completing the FAFSA but make sure you meet all institutional and state deadlines.

Hope you find this information helpful as you move forward with completing the FAFSA. If you know of anyone else that can benefit from this article, please feel free to pass it along using the “Share Tab” below.

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