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Tips For Completing the FAFSA

A lot of the financial aid you’ll receive from your intended college and the federal government will be the result of your FAFSA. That’s why it’s especially important that you make no excuses for filling out that application so that you can see exactly how much funding you’ll be receiving and which federal funding programs you qualify for. If you need some help, browse through our site for advice on navigating the application, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243), visit the federal student aid website, or contact the financial aid administrator at your intended college.

After your FAFSA is processed, you’ll receive a Student Air Report (SAR) that will summarize the information you’ve received, and see your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the amount that a family in your situation should be able to contribute towards a college education. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but that doesn’t mean you should take filing your FAFSA lightly. Check out our tips for completing the FAFSA below so that you’ll be ready to file the application as soon as it’s available from the U.S. Department of Education Jan. 1.

  • Have available the following documents and information when completing the FAFSA:
    • Most recent year's tax forms, or end of year pay stubs.
    • W-2 forms
    • Records of the most recent year's untaxed income, such as child support and untaxed income from agencies such as Social Services, Social Security, and the Veteran Administration. (You do not need to send copies of these documents with your FAFSA, however you will need to refer to them when you file.)
    • The student's correct social security number.
  • Do not leave blanks for any questions requiring a numeric figure, such as a dollar amount or a test score. If your answer to a question is zero, be sure to write "0".
  • Read instructions and follow them carefully. Even if you have completed this form previously, it is not safe to assume revisions have not been made to previous versions.
  • If you are a parent completing the form for your children, be sure to complete a separate FAFSA application for each student. Check that the social security number reported is the correct one for the student filing the form, incorrect social security numbers delay processing.
  • If you are a dependent student, it is important that you enlist the assistance of your parents and that you actively participate in completing the FAFSA. If the financial aid office has questions they will contact the student first, and it is imperative that both you and your parent(s) are aware of the information provided.
  • Obtain the Federal school code from the school or schools you may be interested in attending.
  • Check figures and calculations. Mistakes delay the processing of up to 40% of all forms processed.
  • The asset questions pertaining to net value are for secondary and investment real estate only. You are not required to report the net value of your primary residence.
  • Sign the FAFSA, both the student and parent (if applicable) must sign and date.
  • You should file early, but do not sign, date or mail the FAFSA before January 1. By filing early, you may receive favorable consideration for receiving campus-based aid. You must file a FAFSA every year. Any changes in your family situation should be conveyed to your financial aid administrator, they might affect your eligibility.

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