Most students cringe when it comes time to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known by its dreaded acronym, FAFSA. Some students even avoid the whole situation by simply not applying for FAFSA and just hope to have enough money saved up by the time tuition is due, while others assume that they or their parents make too much money to qualify.
No matter what your situation is, it is always in your best interest to apply for FAFSA, especially if you’re having trouble making those tuition payments.
The financial aid application isn’t the easiest thing to complete, but students miss out on thousands of dollars in grants and low-interest student loans just because they didn’t have the necessary items to fill out the form. Sorry guys, but you’re in college now. If you want to make your tuition manageable, suck it up and gather every thing you need to complete the form.
Here are 5 things you will need to complete the FAFSA:
The application: Your financial aid office will likely have spare copies, but it’s faster to apply online at FAFSA’s website. You can apply between January 1 and June 30, but the earlier you apply the more money you’ll likely get. FAFSA works on a first-come-first-serve basis, so talk to a financial representative to learn about the important deadlines.
General information: Be prepared to list personal information such as your social security number, driver’s license number, address and marital status.
FAFSA PIN number: If you plan on applying online, you will need a PIN number. A PIN number functions as your electronic signature. It also provides access to your Federal Student Aid records online, and it can be used every year to fill out an electronic FAFSA form. Click here to apply for a PIN.
Income documents: You’ll need your, and possibly your parents’, most recent Federal Income Tax Return to complete the form. Additionally, untaxed income records, current bank statement, stocks and bonds, mortgage statements, etc. Click here to find a complete list of required documents.
A list of schools: You should have six colleges in mind so that your financial aid information can be sent to all of the schools. Even if you’re set on one college, write down other possibilities just in case.
Once you’re done, review the form to make sure there’s nothing missing. Sign, send and wait for the results. You and the colleges you listed will receive a letter which includes the amount of financial aid you can expect to receive.
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