Filling out college applications is strenuous, time-consuming, and, sometimes, boring. Now, add on applying for scholarships and federal aid, and you might feel a little overwhelmed. Well, you do not have to be. As someone who applied to around forty colleges and universities and for federal student aid, I can tell you firsthand that this process does not have to be as hard as it sounds - especially when it comes to applying for federal aid.
Dealing with the federal government is not something that you ever willingly want to do. There is a bunch of legal jargon and steps that make it difficult. Hopefully, this article will provide you with the knowledge and information about applying for federal aid that you need to succeed and come out of the process unscathed.
The first thing you need to know is that there are different FAFSA deadlines depending on which state you live and for which college your child is looking to apply. In Tennessee, our FAFSA deadline is February 1, 2021 for the 2021-2022 school year. Even still, your child's future college might have a different, earlier deadline. Be sure to check out the college or university's student loan/federal aid page on their application website.
Once you have decided when you are going to fill out the application, you will need to gather the following documents:
- Child's Social Security Card
- Parents' Social Security Card
- Child's Driver's License (if they have one)
- Alien Registration
- Number (if not a US citizen)
- Parents' IRS W-2, IRS 1040, and Foreign Tax Returns
- Records of Un-taxed Income (i.e. child support, interest income, etc.)
- Records of Cash Information
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In order to apply for federal student aid, all you have to do is go to Google, type in FAFSA, and click the first link that comes up. Once you are there, press "Start Here" under the question "New to the FAFSA process?"
How do I fill out the FAFSA form?
Once you begin you FAFSA, you will be prompted to create a FSA ID. This can be anything as long as you remember what it is. After you create the FSA ID, you will be asked to create a "Save Key" which is another name for password. Your FSA ID and Save Key will allow you to login and access your FAFSA at anytime.
If you need to logout of your FAFSA before you finish it, you may do so. All your information will be saved and you can return to the application by simply logging in.
After you have created your credentials, the form will ask you a series of personal questions. This is a good time to grab your documents that I suggested you grab earlier in this article as you will need them to answer the majority of the questions.
One question will ask if your child is "Dependent" or "Independent."" If you claim your child as a dependent on your taxes and will continue to do so, please choose "Dependent."
With the personal information out of the way, it is time to choose the colleges and universities to which your child is applying. Fill out as many schools as you wish to send the information to. And don't worry, if your child decides to apply to another school after you have submitted the FAFSA, you can log back into the form using your credentials and add another school.
The last page of the FAFSA form is a review of all the information you have already filled out. Be sure to read over it carefully, checking to make sure that each question is answered correctly. Then, sign and submit!
What do I do after I submit the FAFSA?
To make things easier for us, we can access our FAFSAs via an app that is available on both the Apple Store and Google Play. This way, you can always access the application no matter where you are or what device you are using (iPhone, iPad, Android, or tablet).
If you have any questions about the FAFSA or federal student aid process, please do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com. I will be more than happy to assist you with the form and any other questions you may have. Also learn how ACT® and SAT® tutoring can help you maximize your college scholarships!