Paying For College: The FAFSA

February 5, 2011

I graduated from my (relatively affordable) state college DEBT FREE and was able to save enough to put money towards my graduate education. How? It all starts with an application.

If you’re attending college- you need to fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online and can be done in a relatively short amount of time-don’t be intimidated! Doing so will help you qualify for any available aid in three categories: Federal aid, State aid and School/Private aid and scholarships.
As soon as your taxes are done for the previous tax year (and your parents if you’re claimed as a dependent) start the application.

Even if you feel you will not qualify for Federal or State Student Aid, your FAFSA results are still required in order to apply for certain scholarships through your school or charitable scholarship funds.

Log on to Fafsa.Ed.Gov with the following:
-Your social security number, along with your parents if you are claimed as a dependent (and under 24 years of age).
-Driver’s license information, and the birth dates of your parents (if they are claiming you).
-Your most recent income tax return AND that of your parents (if they claim you).
-Your bank statements and parent’s financial information. (This will be used to document your assets- if you fill a form out online, you will not have to have an official hard copy, but you will have to be honest!)
-Apply for an online PIN to log in. If your parents are claiming you, you will need to register them as well- which might delay your completion (based on how cooperative your parents are).  DO NOT lose your pin- you will need it to access your information to edit or reapply later!

The Deadline:
Each school has a different date for the priority registration of the FAFSA. The sooner you apply, the better.

Don’t get frustrated or hung up on the details- just like doing taxes, it’s an annoying process and sometimes not having the right information on hand can be a stumbling block.


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