Many of you may not know where to begin in the process of filling out the FAFSA, which is one of the most critical forms you must fill out in the college process. If you're stressing over doing this correctly, don't sweat it. There are a number of things you can do yourself that will make filling out the FAFSA much less complicated. FAFSA help is available in a number of different ways and from various sources.
Here are some tips for completing the FAFSA accurately:
- Apply early! Some federal financial aid is first come, first serve. This means that if a student with less financial need applies before a student with more financial need, the student with less need will still get more aid, regardless of their need value, simply because of timing. Send in your FAFSA as soon as possible after Janurary 1st to ensure you receive the maximum amount of financial aid possible.
- Before filling out the FAFSA, gather all of the personal documents that you need to fill it out, such as your Social Security number, driver's license, W-2 forms, federal income tax returns, etc.
- Fill out a practice FAFSA online, so you can get the hang of filling out the form and be sure you're doing it correctly. This will also help you get all of the questions you have pertaining to the form out of the way before filling out the actual FAFSA.
- The higher your family's Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), the less financial aid you will be eligible to receive. Adjustments are subtracted from Income to calculate the AGI, so the best way to reduce the amount is to increase your adjustments.
- Since the FAFSA's EFC weighs more heavily toward liquid assets in your family, try to minimize these assets before filing the FAFSA by doing things like paying off large debt balances.
- Most importantly: double check for errors! Errors and omissions (leaving blank spaces) will significantly reduce the amount of financial aid you will be eligible for. Make sure everything is correct and filled out completely.
If you follow these FAFSA help steps, you should be more than prepared to fill out the form accurately, thus enabling yourself to receive the most financial aid you can for college.