If you are advising a student who needs help paying for college, remember that the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is something that you should file.The FAFSA is a form that the Government provides online to help colleges understand a family’s financial picture and to determine eligibility for federal, state and school-sponsored financial aid. There is no fee for filling out and submitting the FAFSA online. About 6,000 American colleges and universities use it every year to determine the amount of financial aid they will offer to students. And filing the FAFSA can result in some unexpected good news, in the form of letters that arrive from colleges that the student did not list, offering financial aid packages. Even if the student you are working with comes from a family that does not need financial aid, it is still a good idea to submit a FAFSA form. Why? Because if students are of interest to colleges, those institutions might make offers of financial aid in an effort to recruit them and encourage them to attend.
When Should You File the FAFSA?
Visit the official FAFSA site and review the instructions you find there.The official deadline is June 30th, but you can fill out and submit the form earlier. Plus, bear in mind that different colleges sometimes impose their own deadlines for submission.
What Documentation Do You Need When Filing the FAFSA?
Gather the following information and have it ready to submit online:
Parents’ and students’ Social Security numbers.
Scans of federal income tax returns, W-2s and income records, bank statements, and investment statements.
And What If You Need Help in Applying?
How can you check on the status of an application you have submitted? When can you expect to hear from colleges about aid they have awarded?You can find answers to those questions, and many more, on the list of FAQs that are answered on the FAFSA site. Did we mention that the FAFSA program is user-friendly? Well, it is. And if you haven’t yet applied, be sure to check it out today.