September 30, 2016
But FWIW, it’s more likely to impact your cash flow than those other well-known abbreviations.
FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (Which explains why they use an acronym, right?) But those five letters are pretty important. Especially this month (i.e. October). Here’s why:
- The FAFSA is what helps determine whether you are eligible for federal loans, grants, or work-study. The FAFSA channels about $150 billion to college students every year. That’s a lot of dough. Just be sure you aren’t leaving your piece of it on the table.
- If you don’t fill it out, you get $0. Think your parents make too much? Well, here’s the thing…if you don’t try, you won’t know for sure, and if you try to qualify for need- or merit-based aid without having a FAFSA on file with your U, you may get $0. Fill it out. Doesn’t cost you a thing.
- This year, instead of a January 1 starting date to file a FAFSA, it’s OCTOBER 1. Yep. And it’s first come, first served. So don’t wait. Even if your parents’ taxes aren’t filed. Do it now!
- And speaking of your parents’ taxes, now you base your FAFSA on 2015 taxes, instead of waiting until 2016 taxes are due. It’s called “prior-prior year.”
- To start, go to FAFSA.ed.gov. You’ll need to create an FSA ID. (Another acronym! The world is chock full of them.) But the FSA ID is pretty much just a user name and password.
- Before you start, make sure you’ve got your and your parents’ social security number. And driver’s license numbers. And tax returns, W-2s, bank statements and investment earnings. BTW, if you live with one parent, you only need to list the income of the parent you live with.
- This is not a one-time thing. It’s something you’ll need to do for every year you’re in college.
- Questions? Your high school counselor or college financial aid office usually has the answers. Or search for “Tips for FAFSA” online. There’s lots of info out there that can help.
- Want to read about 11 most common FAFSA mistakes? Check out this article.
Considering that average student loan debt after graduating is around $30K? Taking the time to fill out your FAFSA is time will spent, and maybe even money in your pocket. HTH.