In order to receive financial aid, you need to apply for it! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open. Starting on October 1st, many students and their families began the process of gathering their 2020 tax return forms, income information, and household information to begin their financial aid applications. Here are the basic facts, and a few tips to consider when completing your financial aid applications.
What is the financial aid application?
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that prospective college students complete in order to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. This aid can come in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work study in order to help you pay for college. Undocumented students still have the opportunity to apply for financial aid through the CA Dream Act Application. No matter your family’s income, all students should apply for financial aid in order to be eligible for unsubsidized loans, and to provide schools with the information to distribute their own need-based aid that includes private scholarships.
What information do I need to apply?
The FAFSA asks for information from both students and parents. For this application cycle, make sure to have your parent’s 2020 tax return available to reference when inputting information. The application does offer a data retrieval tool that will transfer your tax information from the IRS directly into the application. You will also need to have your social security number, and your parent’s social security number, household information, and other records of money earned (assets, properties, untaxed income, cash).
When filling out the application be ready to input the list of schools you are applying to . You do not have to be admitted to the school to enter it into the application. You can input up to 10 schools at a time on your application. If you are applying to more than 10 schools, you can resubmit the application once it has been processed with the additional schools you would like to add. Although you would replace a school entered previously, the college will still receive the data you submitted. All the schools listed will receive your FAFSA results to determine the financial aid you may receive. So, if you don’t end up applying to a school it’s okay.
How do I submit the FAFSA?
The best way to submit the FAFSA is online at studentaid.gov. The website also offers more information about the application and access to resources and tools to complete the form. Before beginning to file the FAFSA make sure to obtain an FSA ID (federal student aid ID), which is done online. If your parents have already created an FSA ID, the same one will be used to complete your application. Make sure to keep this information in a safe place since it will be used to complete the application every year you plan on attending college.
If necessary the FAFSA can be filed in paper form, but it will take longer to process. All students must complete the FAFSA every year in order to be eligible for aid. Each year new information is entered depending on your parent’s tax return information from two years prior.
Important Points to Remember
- The FAFSA is free to complete and submit.
- Apply as soon as possible in order to qualify for certain federal aid programs that operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Also, certain schools have priority filing deadlines so, be sure to submit on the appropriate filing date for the schools you are applying to.
- FAFSA does not tell you how much financial aid you will receive. The application determines your EFC (expected family contribution), which is used by colleges to determine a student’s financial aid package.
- Once submitted you can still access the application to make some changes if necessary. This typically includes adding schools to your list.
- If asked for verification, nothing was done wrong on your part. Some students are selected at random by colleges to provide documentation for the information provided.
- Lastly, remember to save a copy of your FAFSA for your records!
Financial Aid Application Links
Free Student Aid Application (FAFSA) – studentaid.gov
CA Dream Act Application – dream.csac.ca.gov
By Viviana Cabrera