5 Tips To Help You Complete The FAFSA

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Make sure you have all of the necessary papers and info before you start

fafsa-checklistFilling out the FAFSA can seem like a daunting task but it goes smoother and much faster if you’re prepared. To fill our your FAFSA you will need your parents W2, birthday, social security number and determine if they will or have already filed taxes for that year. From there it’s just a matter of inputting the info.

Fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible

imageThe financial aid money the FAFSA gives is usually awarded on a first come, first serve basis. Therefore, do not procrastinate on completing your form to ensure that you are getting as much aid as possible. The FAFSA becomes available for students to fill out starting January 1st so get it done asap!

Transfer your assets and money to your parents accounts

1443215512-giphyMost students may not realize that the FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution (EFC), which is how much your parents and you can give to your education financially. It’s important to know that this calculation looks at what you have personal assets (checking account, savings account, etc.) and expects that you are able to pay 20% of what you have. On the flip side, it only expects that your parents are able to pay 5.64% of what they have in assets. Therefore if you have a savings, checking, or other account think of transferring that to your parents so you won’t be expected to pay as much on your own education. This lowers your expected family contribution which could help you get more financial aid. 

Carefully fill it out

sheldonAlthough you will want to complete your FAFSA form as quickly as possible, it’s important to take your time to avoid making simple errors! Unfortunately, errors can actually make it take longer for them to process your FAFSA and delay the time in which you can expect to send your information to the colleges you selected. The point here is, be careful –  proof-read it and check for simple mistakes.

Negotiate an award letter with colleges if necessary

giphyColleges will send you an award letter of how much financial aid you can receive for that year. Applying to different colleges, means different tuition rates, so your award amount for each school could vary by a little or a lot! Regardless, if something with your finances has drastically changed since you submitted your FAFSA, such as a parent’s job loss or high medical costs, you need to get in touch with financial aid at the colleges. The FAFSA is the main document to see how much money you are eligible for but if extenuating circumstances come up it’s very important for you to do your part by contacting a specific school to see if anything can be done to help you out. 

Overall don’t stress yourself out because the FAFSA will take time and attention to complete but the sooner you can get it done, the better.  In 2015 , just in New York alone, over $993,000 of financial aid was given to students through FAFSA.  This document is essential for a student to receive the necessary to help pay for college, plus it’s free to fill out!  You can get started with your FAFSA here!

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