New Year Means New Application
Though it is a holiday, New Year’s Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting your New Year’s resolutions, college students and college-bound high school students should also start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Department of Education starts accepting the FAFSA") on January 1 of each year. State application deadlines fall soon after, some as early as February. So while you might not start classes until August or September, start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.
What You Need
To complete the FAFSA, you will need the following (if available):
- Your social security number
- A driver’s license if you have one
- Bank statements and records of investments
- Records of untaxed income
- Your most recent tax return and W2s (2014 for the 2015-2016 FAFSA)
- All of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
- A PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov)
If you’ve applied before, fill out a renewal FAFSA, which allows you to skip a few questions. You will still need your tax, savings, and investment information for the new year. Your tax information must be from the previous calendar year to file. The Department of Education relies heavily on tax information to determine a person’s ability to pay for college. If your financial situation changes drastically talk to your school’s financial aid office to make changes to your student financial aid.
If you do not have your tax information ready for y our application, which is often the case if you’re applying in January or February, use a previous year’s tax return to estimate. This way you have a FAFSA on file before priority deadlines have passed. Once you’ve done your taxes for the current year, make the corrections online. This is the best way to finish you application early and maximize your state and campus-basedfinancial aid packages.
Why You Should Apply
Completing the FAFSA is an important step in funding your education The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal student financial aid for college. This aid includes federal grant programs (such as the Pell Grant), federal work-study, and federal student loans. It is also used by states to determine eligibility for their college aid programs, such as state grants. Colleges also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for the need-based aid programs they administer. Finally, many scholarship opportunities request FAFSA information as part of their application process. Always apply for need-based scholarships and grants. At the minimum, you will qualify for Stafford Loans, low-interest federal student loans.
Where To Get More Information
TVisit fafsa.ed.gov and check out "Before Beginning a FAFSA" to get prepared. There you will find information about application deadlines, required documents, applying for a PIN, and the application process. We also offer financial aid resources at Scholarships.com. For further reading, check out our "Resources" section.
Last Edited: November 2015
- FAFSA and Other Daunting Financial Aid Acronyms
- FAFSA on the Web
- FAFSA on the Web Provides Speedy Financial Aid Processing
- Federal Grant Programs: Pell and FSEOG
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Federal Student Financial Aid for College
- Federal Work Study
- FSEOG: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
- The FAFSA: New Year Means New Application
Latest College & Financial Aid News
December 6, 2016
by Susan DutcaThe mantle of "College President" is one that includes a lot of responsibility and scrutiny, but for some in the higher ranks, the lucrative pay makes it worth it. According to data released by The Chronicle of Higher Education, some private-college presidents have made over $5.4 million in a single year. The average annual salary for full-time college/university presidents in 2014 was roughly [...]
December 1, 2016
by Susan DutcaPerhaps your 2017 New Year's Resolution is to earn more free college money - that's our goal for you! 2016 is now coming to an end, and so are these scholarship deadlines, so hurry and apply to these end-of-the-year awards while you still can! Girls Who Illustrate Awesomeness Scholarship [...]
November 29, 2016
by Susan DutcaThe incoming Trump administration could reverse President Obama's actions on college sexual assault, giving hope to those who claim their lives were destroyed by false rape claims. However, this raises concerns for some that perhaps those who have been victims of sexual assault and made legitimate reports may not get the protection they deserve. Since 2011, colleges and universities have been [...]