Every student that wants federal student loans or aid is required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This document requires a lot of information, so it can be confusing for some people.
Filling Out Your FAFSA Application
Filling out the FAFSA will take time, so it is a good idea to start early. Here are some tips to make sure that you get the necessary information and minimize the risk of making a mistake.
Get Necessary Information
You will need a variety of information to successfully fill out your FAFSA application. Make sure that you have the following information beforehand:
- Your government identification number (Social Security Number for U.S. citizens and alien identification number for foreign students)
- Your driver’s license number
- Your federal student PIN
- Your financial records (banking account information, tax documents and records of all financial investments)
It may take time to assemble all of this information, so make sure that you start gather it early.
File Your Taxes Early
Students and parents seeking student loans will need to submit their tax returns. Unfortunately, you will be cutting it very close if you wait until after the IRS filing deadline to submit your application. You should fill out your expected income before filing your taxes. You can always adjust the information in April so that you don’t fall behind with your application.
Omit Exempted Assets
The FAFSA application doesn’t require you to list retirement assets, home equity, vehicles and household assets. Listing these assets can significantly reduce the amount of funding that you receive, so it is best to omit them from the application.
Shift Student Assets to Parent Accounts
Federal aid is calculated based primarily on the student’s assets and income. Jay Murray, the president of Solutions for Tuition, told Bank Rate that students will lose 20 cents for every dollar in their personal account. They should try shifting their assets to their parents’ accounts to increase eligibility. It is important to do this before January 1.
Discuss Unexpected Expenses With School
The FAFSA application doesn’t necessarily include all of the expenses that you may be eligible for. You will want to discuss any expenses with the school that may indicate that you are suffering from a hardship or need extra aid. Make sure that you speak with them as soon as possible so that they can make any possible accommodations.
Fill Out FAFSA Carefully
Students pursuing an online degree need to fill out the FAFSA, which can seem complicated at first glance. You will need to make sure that you have all the information that you need and know what to do to maximize possible aid. Fortunately, the aid is pretty straightforward if you know what steps to take.