The big day is approaching: this fall college classes will begin, new friends will be made, and students across the country will embark on their biggest journey yet. But before they start, there’s still a lot to do. And one of the first (and most important) steps is filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
The FAFSA is used by many colleges to determine eligibility for their financial aid programs. You’ll need to work with your student to complete the form, but with some planning and a few helpful hints, submitting the application and kicking off the college experience can be simple.
The earlier you start, the easier the process will be. Completing the FAFSA requires collecting a range of documents, including the previous year’s tax forms. And waiting until the last minute means you could risk missing deadlines.
In addition to the information your student needs to enter into the application, there are several things you’ll need to provide as well. Gathering these ahead of time will make the application process easier, and help make sure you aren’t scrambling to track them down at the last minute. Check here for the documents you will need to have ready.
Position yourself for success
The better you understand the FAFSA process, the more you’ll be able to get out of it. What kinds of accounts have funds, which parent fills out the form, and many more elements can all affect the amount of aid made available to each applicant. Check out some ways to get the most from your financial aid application.
The great thing about the FAFSA is that you’re never on your own. In addition to thousands of other parents who have gone through the same process, there are many resources to help answer questions, such as school guidance counselors, college admissions offices, and, of course, the internet. Here are a few places to turn to should you have questions:
- Toll-free government helpline: (800) 433-3243.
- Chat live with FAFSA on the Web Customer Service Live Help
And remember, while the FAFSA is one of the most important documents your child will submit, it shouldn’t be intimidating or scary. With a little planning, you’ll have it done and submitted in no time.