Three Things Everyone Should Know About the FAFSA

Three Things Everyone Should Know About the FAFSA

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The FAFSA is a great way to get the funding you need for the education you want

While most people have heard of the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), only some have had the unique experience of filling it out. Whether you are still a few years away from applying to college or you are already a college student, here are 3 important tips about that FAFSA that you may not know, but should.


1. You don’t need to have your current tax return finished to complete the form

Many people wait to fill out the FAFSA after they have filed their tax returns for the year. Big mistake! While the FAFSA asks for your most current tax information, it does allow you to submit the form initially with only estimated information. You can use your W-2s or prior year tax returns to fill out the form in order to submit it as early as possible. If you do this, you can always update your FAFSA at a later date after you have filed your taxes with the accurate tax information. The new Data Retrieval Tool makes updating your tax information a smooth and easy process. Which brings us to the second tip…


2. It’s important to file your FAFSA as early as possible to meet financial aid deadlines

When it comes to filing the FAFSA, earlier really is better! Most schools have a financial aid deadline. Financial aid deadlines are usually different than an admission deadline and often are 2-3 months earlier in the year.  Schools that have an April 1 deadline for an admission application may have a financial aid deadline as early as February 1 or March 1. Thinking of going to UNH or already enrolled here? UNH has a March 1 deadline which is right around the corner, so don’t miss it! Deadlines can make or break your financial aid award. Schools often allot certain pools of money to be given to only those applicants who file their FAFSA before the financial aid deadline. So be sure to check the financial aid deadline for any school you may be applying to. And if you really want to ensure you haven’t missed a deadline, you can file your FAFSA as early as January 1 each year!


3. The FAFSA is free to file

It is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for a reason. While an education may not be free, filing the FAFSA is. The FAFSA form can seem intimidating at times, especially to those who are completing it for the first time. There are many organizations and individuals out there who are more than happy to provide you with assistance, for a fee. Some groups may even promise they can guarantee that you qualify for a specific amount of aid. Since everyone, even Bill Gates, would qualify for a federal loan, I too can promise you that you’ll qualify for $5,500 of federal aid (in the form of a loan). There’s no trick to filling out the FAFSA form that will guarantee you extra money. The only trick out there is the one where someone makes your wallet $75 lighter for filling out a form you could complete yourself. If you have questions or are considering getting help with filling out the FAFSA, contact your friendly Financial Aid office counselor and get the help you need for free! 

Do yourself a favor. Don’t delay, file today!

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