How to complete the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application form
Most college graduates could never have fulfilled their educational dreams without student loans. When applying for federal aid, which includes scholarships and grants, the first step is to fill out the Federal Student Aid form, more commonly known as the FAFSA.
Know Your Dates
Keep in mind that there are pressing deadlines you will have to meet if you want to be considered for financial aid.
Deadlines are set for both state and federal requirements, so be aware of them as soon as you have decided to go to college. This is true if you are attending for the first time or are heading back as a non-traditional student.
When filling out the FAFSA, you will need to know which school year you will be attending college. School years typically run from July 1st to the end of the following June.
Get the FAFSA Form
The next step is to obtain the FAFSA. The most convenient way to fill it out is to complete it online at fafsa.ed.gov. You will need certain documentation ready in order to complete it but more on that later. Before you can begin the form, you will be required to enter your full name, social security number and birth date.
Another option is to download a PDF version of the FAFSA. You can print this from your computer and fill it out by hand, but PDF versions must be mailed to the processing center.
Anyone without internet access can call 1-800-4-FED-AID to request a paper copy. Those that are hearing impaired have a TTY number available at 1-800-730-8913 FREE .
Aside from identifying information, the FAFSA requires that you record any income. This is typically done with tax returns although bank statements and other investment records may suffice. Married couples should enter both individual`s tax return information, even if only one of you is going to college. High school students and other dependent college students don`t need their own income information unless they are working, but they will need their parents` income information whether the dependent student has their own job or not.
The FAFSA, although it may look daunting at first, is relatively easy to fill out. The form will suggest where to look for the proper information such as which box to consult on a tax return. Be sure to fill in the information to the best of your ability and as accurately as you can.
Finishing the Form
Before doing anything else, make sure that your potential colleges will receive your FAFSA information. You can do this by entering in the school codes when prompted, which can be found on the FAFSA website.
Once you have filled in all of the required information, you will be given the option of double-checking the information with the online FAFSA. Take advantage of this opportunity and proofread the information for errors. Online forms will need to be electronically signed with a pin number, which will be provided and paper forms will need to be signed by hand.
While you want to be sure there are no errors on the form when you submit it, it is possible to go back later and correct a FAFSA form. Doing so, however, could result in missing deadlines and not being considered for priority financial aid.
Submit the FAFSA according to the instructions. Once the Department of Education has had a chance to look over your information, you will be sent your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which will give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for the school year.
Consult loan calculators like the ones available at Simply Finance to estimate your loan repayment amount or projected monthly payment.