If you are a high school senior or returning college student, you’ve probably noticed that all the ads and emails you’ve been getting lately pointing towards FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form provided by the United States government for college students. As the name suggests this application is free, and if you are eligible, you get grants or loans to help you attend the college of your dreams.
The government has streamlined the application process for your convenience. However, here is our advice to help you avoid common mistakes when filing your FAFSA:
- Read the application thoroughly - As mentioned above, the government has made the FAFSA application process as easy as possible. That being said, it is your job to read the directions and follow it to the letter. Place the right answer in the correct box or line. Be sure you are answering the student’s section as a student and the parent’s segment as a parent. Pay close attention to dependency questions. Follow the instructions, and you will have it done in no time.
- Submit your Social Security Number on the university’s application - This is a step most people ignore in fear that it might lead to identity theft. However, having your SSN on your university’s application will attach your FAFSA to your application, thus allowing you to be awarded faster. Do not worry; everything is kept confidential by strict FERPA rules.
- Apply as early as possible - Starting last year, you can file the forms as early as October 1. (For the 2018-2019 school year, you can begin filing this October 1, 2017). Although federal, state, and college deadlines vary, getting your FAFSA done as quickly as possible will help prioritize your chances to receive the maximum financial aid available. The government has made it easier to fill out the FAFSA by allowing students and their families to use their 2016 tax information.
- Academically accepted - You have to be academically accepted by a college to be awarded financial aid. This means you have submitted both your cumulative high school GPA to date and ACT/SAT scores to the school of your choice.
- Fix mistakes as soon as possible - We are all humans; everybody makes mistakes. If you have submitted your FAFSA then realized that you made an error or two, you can make a “New FAFSA Transaction.” You do not have to redo the whole form, just correct the section in question.
In all truth, college can be expensive. The government wants to assist you in helping you afford a quality higher education. So work with them and complete your FAFSA in as soon as possible. We are also here to help you. Give us a call at 1-800-SOUTHERN.