Financial Aid is a great reason to go to college. There is millions of dollars in federal funds available to many of college students that apply . Filling out the FAFSA should be a student’s first step in securing financial aid. This article explains what the FAFSA is and tells you how to apply for student aid.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. According to the College Board, www.collegeboard.com, FAFSA is the financial aid application form you’ll use in applying for work-study programs and federal and state student grants and/or loans.
How to get FAFSA Applications
You can choose to fill out a paper application or an electronic application. The electronic-version, found at FAFSA on the Web, www.fafsa.ed.gov, has become increasingly popular because students can submit and track their applications online. The College Board also reports that filing an application online reduces the processing time by one to two weeks. You should only complete the FAFSA application through the government’s official website.
If you don’t have access to the electronic application, you can find the paper application at your high school’s counseling center or career center. You can also find the paper application at local libraries and financial aid offices at local colleges.
Information You’ll Need to Complete the FAFSA
Unless you’re completely independent, you will be using your parents’ income tax information. Their income tax information will be one factor considered by those processing the application to determine the type of financial aid you can receive and how large an amount you qualify for.
Here is the list of specific documents that are needed. You’ll need the tax documents for your parents and yourself. (Source: FAFSA on the Web, www.fafsa.ed.gov)
- Social Security Number (The number issued on a social security card.)
- Driver’s License
- Most Current W-2 Forms and Other Financial Records of Money Earned
- Most Current Federal Income Tax Return
- Most Current Untaxed Income Records
- Most Recent Bank Statements
- Most Recent Business and Investment Mortgage Information
- Alien Registration Number or Permanent Residence Card (If you’re not a U.S. Citizen.)
When Do You Need to Send In the FAFSA?
When you send in the FAFSA application, the financial aid you’ll receive will be granted for the same academic year for which you applied. You need to apply each year until you’re finished with college or until you no longer need any financial aid. Check with FAFSA on the Web for your state’s deadline dates because they vary from state to state.
For more information, go to FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov.