You’ll get tired of hearing about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Well, get over it. This is the big one, the first and most important part of your college financial aid strategy. ALL high school seniors should file the FAFSA online between Oct. 15 and April 15 to qualify for state and federal financial aid for the next academic year. You’ll file the FAFSA every year to keep receiving financial aid.
Complete it as soon as possible to maximize opportunities with colleges that might have early financial aid deadlines.
Just go to FAFSA.gov. It’s free and usually takes less than 30 minutes. To get started, you’ll create a Federal Student Aid identification number (FSA ID) at FSAID.ed.gov. Then you’ll include the following information:
- Driver’s license number, if you have one.
- Social Security numbers for you and your parents.
- Information about untaxed parent and student aid (child support, interest income, veteran benefits).
- Information about assets (investment, savings and checking account balances) and business or farm records, if applicable.
- Your parent’s federal tax forms (1040EX, 1040A, 1040 and/or W2s) and your tax forms, if you file taxes.
- Your alien registration number, if you are not a US citizen.
Financial Aid Forecast
All seniors should fill out the FAFSA, but there is help for juniors, too. Use the FAFSA4caster to plan ahead at fafsa.gov. Enter basic information and get an estimate of your eligibility for federal financial aid. Then use the College Cost Worksheet to get a better idea of what you’ll need to fund your education.