ESSENTIAL DOCUMENT # 1: FAFSA
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Your road to securing funding for college begins here. You can not skip this step; it is essential, not only for federal monies, but for almost all other sources of funding too. We're talking state tuition money, public and private scholarship aid, work-study funding and nearly all other funding opportunities. It doesn't matter whether or not you think you'll qualify for federal financial aid. Any way you slice it, your journey begins with FAFSA.
Complete FAFSA at this government link
The earliest you can submit the form is January 1st. The earlier you can submit the FAFSA the better your chances of maximizing your funding opportunities. For example, the FAFSA will most likely be used by your college of choice in determining further need-based aid eligibility and this money is often distributed on a first come first serve basis.
The FAFSA form is a multi-page questionnaire consisting of over 100 questions. The exact number of questions you'll need to complete depends on several factors, including whether you are a dependent or independent applicant.
You have the option of completing the form electronically or by using the old-fashioned paper version. Completing the form electronically offers several advantages. Most importantly, the electronic version allows your application to be processed more quickly.
Also, this online version will review some of the data you input, allowing you to avoid simple mistakes of addition and subtraction. If you are unable to complete the form electronically you should be able to pick up a copy at your high school or at a local college or university. In addition, the form is available by calling 1 800 4 FED AID.
As you sit down for the first time with the bulky ponderous form that is FAFSA, you may feel intimidated. Don't worry. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that millions of aspiring college graduates complete this mountain of paperwork every year. So can you. You may find it easier to print out the FAFSA and work on a hard copy until you feel confident with the information you'll need to provide.
Regarding the info you'll need to supply, it will be necessary for most applicants to complete the FAFSA with a parent or with your parents most recent tax returns. You may also need other personal and financial documentation including bank statements, social security numbers, statements on interest and documentation regarding other assets.
Keep a sheet of paper handy to jot down the questions you'll inevitably come up with. Your high school guidance counselor might be able to answer some questions; your parents and other teachers might also be of assistance. Also, the site where you file your form electronically provides some assistance (www.fafsa.ed.gov)
The federal deadline for completing the FAFSA is June 30th. However, individual schools may have their own deadline. If you want to apply to four schools, you may be looking at four different deadlines. Many institutions require your FAFSA paperwork by the end of February.
Also, your state of residence will most likely have its own unique deadline for FAFSA-determined aid. Be aware of all deadlines and vigilant about adhering to them. It may be a good idea to maintain a desk or wall calender devoted solely to keeping track of all of the various deadlines associated with the college application, admission and aid processes.
The earliest you can submit the form is January 1st. So, technically you have nearly six months to complete and submit this form. However, the race does sometimes go to the swift. The earlier you can submit the FAFSA the better your chances of maximizing your funding opportunities. For example, the FAFSA will most likely be used by your college of choice in determining further need-based aid eligibility and this money is often distributed on a first come first serve basis.
If you completed a paper version of FAFSA it will take the government 6 to 8 weeks to process your application. Electronic filers can expect their results in a fraction of the time. Once this is done, you'll receive in the mail your Student Aid Report (SAR).
On the first page of your SAR you will see a dollar amount labeled Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This represents the amount you and your family will be expected to contribute annually to your education. Be certain that you review your SAR carefully. Mistakes do happen and they can have a detrimental impact on your aid package. If you find any mistakes, make your corrections on Part 2 of the form and mail it back to them. This will generate a new SAR.
Complete FAFSA at this government link
Return to Financial Home Page www.collegescholarships.com/financial-aid