20 Jan Filling out the Fafsa
With the new year comes the critically important task, of filling out the annual FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
This is the single most important form when it comes to applying for financial aid for college. It’s your first and best shot at obtaining some form of financial aid, whether it’s federal student loans, scholarships or other grants. You can apply as early as Jan. 1, 2016. There are few federal student aid programs and have limited funds, so apply as soon as you can. An estimated 2 million students who are enrolled in college and would be eligible for a Pell Grant never applied for aid, and an unknown number failed to enroll in college because they did not know that aid is available.
Some of the most common FAFSA mistakes, according to the U.S. Education Department are:
- Not Completing the FAFSA – Many families/students don’t even bother or don’t understand the importance of FAFSA
- Not Using the Correct Website – The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. You don’t have to pay to complete the FAFSA.
- Not Getting a FSA ID Ahead of Time – Students and parents can no longer use a Federal Student Aid PIN to log in and sign the FAFSA online. They must use the new FSA ID — a username and password. Once you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA.
- Waiting to Fill Out The FAFSA Until After You File Taxes – Because financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s important to fill out the FAFSA early. FAFSA is available beginning January 1, 2016, well before most people have their 2015 taxes filed. This, however, shouldn’t stop you from getting the FAFSA submitted. You can use the previous year’s income to estimate the financial information on the FAFSA and get it submitted.
- Not Filing by the Deadline – States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA deadlines. To maximize the amount of your financial aid, you should fill out your FAFSA by the earliest of these three deadlines, if not sooner!