Colleges will soon start sending out acceptance letters and financial aid packages to eager high school seniors. Shortly thereafter, parents and guardians may start to experience some anxiety as to how they are going to finance that college education.
A first step in learning about student financial assistance is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Office of Federal Student Aid, through the US Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. Many states and schools also use the FAFSA as part of their application process for non-federal aid. For an overview, log on to http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa.
GreenPath reminds applicants that to maximize the chances of getting student financial aid, students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible in the year for which they are requesting aid. Also, states have different deadlines, so it’s best to log-on and look for deadlines as soon as possible.
Steps in the FAFSA Process
If you follow these basic steps, you could complete your FAFSA on the Web in as little as 30 minutes.
Step 1 – Log on to the FAFSA website at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Step 2– Have access to your Social Security number.
Step 3 – Request a PIN. (If you plan to submit your FAFSA online, you can request a PIN number and apply and “sign” the FAFSA online, check the status of your submitted FAFSA, and make corrections.)
Step 4 – Make note of state and college deadlines and requirements. (For example, the state of Michigan’s deadline is March 1, 2013.)
College and state deadlines tend to be earlier than the federal deadline and may require an application in addition to the FAFSA. Play it safe — collect these dates and requirements early.
Step 5– Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
This tool will help you gather the information needed on the official FAFSA. Worksheets are available from high school guidance offices, public libraries, and at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Information Needed to Complete the FAFSA
Student Information (partial list)
•Citizenship & state residency
•Major course of study
•Expected course workload
•Income taxes and deductions (including spouse’s)
•List of schools you are interested in attending
Parent Information, (if applicable)
•Level of education
•Income taxes & deductions
Federal Agencies Review
In addition to checking the FAFSA data against predetermined edits, the U.S. Department of Education will verify your information with the following federal agencies:
•Social Security Administration (to verify Social Security Numbers and US citizenship status)
•Selective Service System (to verify Selective Service registration status, if applicable)
•Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service (to verify eligible noncitizen status, if applicable)
•U.S. Department of Justice (to verify that an applicant has not been denied federal student aid by the courts as the result of a drug-related conviction)
•U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (to verify veteran status, if applicable)
If the information you provide is inaccurate, the U.S. Department of Education will return your FAFSA. This will delay your application and could impact your financial aid award.
For more information on paying for college, log on to GreenPath University at www.greenpath.org/university and click on the “college” tab.