Though it's a day off from school and work, New Year's Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting in on your New Year's resolutions, opening up a new calendar, and packing up the holiday decorations, there’s one more thing that college students and college-bound high school students should do each January. The Department of Education starts accepting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as "FAFSA") on January 1 each year. State application deadlines fall soon after—as early as February in some cases. So while you might not start classes until August or September, you want to start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.
In order to complete a FAFSA, you will need the following:
- your social security number
- a driver’s license if you have one
- bank statements and records of investments (if you have any)
- records of untaxed income (again, if you have any)
- your most recent tax return and W2s (2013 for the 2014-2015 FAFSA)
- all of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
- a PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov to get one)
For more information on FAFSA and other daunting financial aid acronyms, head over to our Federal Aid section. And while you’re there, don’t forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile to help you fund your college education.