If your student is college bound this coming fall, then now is the time to become acquainted with the financial aid application process. The most important form is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the “FAFSA.
Here are some tips to prevent any problems and make sure your application is considered:
Tip #1: Read the form
Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, like your Social Security Number or your date of birth. But others require you to read the instructions to make sure you answer the question correctly. Certain terms like “household” have special definitions purposes of student financial aid. So be sure to read the instructions.
Tip #2: Apply early
Deadlines for aid from your state, from your school, and from private sources tend to be much earlier than deadlines for federal aid. To make sure that any financial aid package your school offers you will contain aid from as many sources as possible, apply as soon as you can after January 1, 2005.
Tip #3: Do your 2004 taxes first
Filling out your tax return first will make completing the FAFSA easier. You are not required to file your tax return with the IRS before you submit your FAFSA. But, if you file the FAFSA first, and your income or tax information changes once you complete your tax return, you are required to go back and correct any inaccurate information on your aid application. If you do not make these updates, you may not receive as much aid as you qualify for, or you may be required to return federal aid you improperly receive based upon incorrect information.
Tip #4: File Electronically
You can fill out and submit a FAFSA over the Internet. This is the fastest way to apply for financial aid. Also, by filing online, your application can be scanned for errors before being submitted, reducing the risk of your application being rejected.
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