What the heck is a fafsah and why do I need to file it?
The FAFSA (pronounced “faf suh”) is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Everyone, even high income earners should fill out the FAFSA and file it before deadline. The FAFSA is available starting on Oct. 1, 2016. Make sure to fill it out and file it as soon as possible.
All Federal and State aid is based on it.
Aid includes loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study.
Private schools require it to award many scholarships and grants.
It is required for many merit or academic scholarships.
You file it every year your student is in school.
Aid is not based on income alone. They consider:
Size of the family
Number of students in college
Age of oldest parent
Grades and test scores are NOT considered.
Small family businesses are NOT counted as an asset.
Money or assets in retirement accounts are NOT counted.
Your home is NOT counted as an asset.
But, “it’s too hard to fill out…”There are plenty of free resources to help answer questions and fill out the FAFSA.
Start with fafsa.ed.gov/ This site provides explanations and “help and hint” boxes for each question.
More questions: go to studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa .
College Board site: bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/financial-aid-101/how-to-complete-the-fafsa
Kahn Academy: www.khanacademy.org/college-admissions/paying-for-college/financial-aid-process/a/fafsa-walkthrough
If you have already filed your taxes, you can use the IRS Data Retrival Tool. https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm
In order to start a FAFSA you need to have a Federal Student Aid ID (“FSA ID”) for both one parent AND the student. Each person creates your own user name and password. (This takes the place of the FAFSA pin). http://fsaid.ed.gov
WRITE DOWN YOUR USER NAME AND PASSWORD, AS WELL AS ACCOUNT RECOVERY ANSWERS AND KEEP THEM SAFE
Once you create your FSA ID, it can take up to three days for your ID application to be verified, so create the IDs ASAP
Your student’s FSA ID will be used to identify the student. The parent FSA ID will be used to sign the documents.
You need to file a separate FAFSA for each student.
The year designation of the FAFSA corresponds to the academic year. So if your student will start college in 2017, you will be filing the 2017-2018 FAFSA. Next year, your student’s second year in college will be the 2018-2019 FAFSA
The filing period is between Oct. 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
In California the deadline for state aid is March 2, 2016
In the FAFSA you use the prior-prior year taxes. In other words, for the 2017-2018 school year you use taxes from 2015. (e.g. school year: 2017 minus 2 = 2015 taxes)
You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to fill in the tax filing parts of the application.
Apply as soon after October 1 as you can. The federal and state money is limited and later filers will be awarded less money, despite eligibility.
The good part of filing in October, students will find out what federal and state aid they are eligible for before they have finished applying to colleges!
Up to 10 schools may be listed on the FAFSA. Additional schools may be added after the student receives the Student Aid Report. Before removing a school, call the financial aid office and make sure they have your FAFSA
You do not need a final list of schools when filing the FAFSA. The FAFSA list of schools can be added to at any time before the schools’ financial aid deadline, usually in February
The FAFSA needs to be filed for every year a student attends college or graduate school
The biggest mistake students and families make with the FAFSA, not filing it! So Get Smart and file the FAFSA!
Get Smart for College
Independent Educational Consultant
Jamie is a UCLA trained educational consultant.