7 DOs and DON’Ts for Completing Your FAFSA
Filed under: Gaming & Technology
February 23, 2015
Whether you’re thinking about going to school or you’re already a student, The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important application for financial aid that we encourage everyone to complete!
The FAFSA is operated by Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education that provides more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans and other funding to more than 13 million students each year.
If you’re considering applying for federal aid but don’t know where or how to start, you’re not alone—many people find this annual task overwhelming and confusing. Before you find yourself getting too worried, relax and read these 7 tips for completing your FAFSA.
1. DON’T Assume Your Family’s Income is too High to Qualify for Aid
Many people mistakenly believe there’s an income cap for federal student aid, but that is completely incorrect. You should always submit your FAFSA, regardless of the size of your own or your family’s income. You never know what you may be eligible for and the application is free of charge!
2.DO Submit Your Application Early
You’ve probably already noticed there’s a different school, state and federal FAFSA deadline. It can definitely be confusing to know which one applies to you, but you should always submit your application based on the first due date. You don’t even have to wait until you or your parents file your taxes, as this information can be updated later.
3. DON’T Rush through the Application
It’s important for your application to be accurate, so take your time to complete it right. Seemingly minor issues, such as using a nickname instead of your full name, typing one wrong digit on your social security number or mistakenly providing incorrect family or financial information can seriously delay approval of your application and potentially impact the amount of funding you receive.
4. DO Use the IRS Tax Data Retrieval Tool
For many people, entering financial information is the most challenging part of the FAFSA. Thankfully, you can import your tax information directly onto the application. Not only does this save time, it also leaves no room for error.
5. DO Review Your Student Aid Report Immediately
You’ll receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) after submitting your FAFSA. Expect to receive this within three days if you submitted your FAFSA online and within three weeks if you sent it by mail. Review your SAR immediately to ensure all the information is accurate. If you find a mistake, simply use your Federal Student Aid PIN to login to fafsa.gov and make the necessary changes.
6. DON'T Forget to Sign Your FAFSA
You can’t officially submit your FAFSA without signing the application with your PIN, so don’t forget to take this crucial last step. If you get all the way to the end and realize you don’t know your PIN or your parent isn’t there to sign with the parent PIN (both parents and students need to sign the FAFSA if the student is a dependent student), make it a priority to find this information immediately. You can always request a copy of your PIN on the PIN website. Don’t accidentally leave your FAFSA incomplete because of an oversight!
7. DO Understand Your EFC
Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is located in the box at the top of the first page of your Student Aid Report (SAR), directly under your Social Security Number. In addition to family size and the number of family members attending college during the year, your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets and benefits are used to calculate this number. An incomplete FAFSA will not compute an EFC. Don’t be confused though — your EFC is not the amount of financial aid you’ll receive or the amount your family will have to pay. Your EFC is simply used by the school to determine the amount of financial aid you’re eligible to receive.
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