Tips for filling out FAFSA

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

The 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid became available on Oct. 1, beginning college students’ yearly process to fill it out.

Completing and submitting the FAFSA can help students get access to monetary aid from the federal government, states and schools.

When the applications are processed, students get back an aid offer which details the amounts and types of aid that their colleges are making available.

According to the FAFSA website, it is important to get the application in early because states and colleges have limited amounts of aid to give out and many parts are first-come, first-served.

The application process can be daunting, but there are several online resources to help simplify it, like the College Covered FAFSA Assistant, the Citizen Free Assistant for FAFSA or Federal Student Aid’s “Aidan.” All of these websites offer directions and tips on how to best complete the application.

Before even beginning the application, it can be helpful to gather a lot of the information that it will ask for.

This includes a Federal Student Aid ID which can be created online.

Other important information includes Social Security numbers for both students and parents, drivers’ licenses or other ID, tax returns and records of untaxed income, according to a Forbes article titled “Expert Tips for Filling Out the FAFSA.”

With that information on hand, filling out the actual application should only take around half an hour, by the FAFSA website’s estimation.

The application is always free; if a website asks for payment or credit card information, it is not legitimate. The official website is fafsa.gov.

FAFSA makes three types of aid available: school aid, state aid and Federal work-study and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

The federal and state programs give a limited amount of money to schools, which then is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Schools sometimes have earlier deadlines for FAFSA than the official national deadline, so it is important to check what an individual school’s policy is.

The FAFSA application uses information from two years prior to its completion, so there are ways to appeal for better aid.

If a student or parent loses their job or has some other life-changing event occur, they can contact the school the student plans to attend.

Different schools have different processes to determine changes in aid, but it is important to have documentation to prove the reason for an appeal.

 

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]