Filling out the FAFSA form is little short of time consuming and fairly frustrating. However, there are a few things you can do to make filling out the form easier and much less stressful. These FAFSA tips will help you with the process of getting all the paperwork finished on time and correctly in order to ensure that you get all the financial aid benefits you can.
Some FAFSA tips...
- Lower your cash amounts that you have on hand before filling out the FAFSA. This may sound strange and pretty ridiculous to do, but the more cash you hold with you, the less financial aid you’ll be eligible to receive. Before filling out the FAFSA, try paying bills early or paying off portions of debt (like mortgage), buying things for school…you just want to have less cash on hand
- Reduce your adjusted gross income. Now, this does not mean make less money! Just try spending money on things you need or on debts/bills you have to pay off in order to reduce your AGI. Try contributing the ceiling amount to your IRA or consolidating federal student loans. The higher your AGI, the less financial aid you will be able to receive.
- Do not leave ANY blank spaces on the FAFSA form! Even if a question does not apply to you, write something in the blank (for example, put a zero instead of nothing at all). Errors will disqualify you from aid almost immediately.
- Do not save money in the student’s name. Any assets owned by the student at the time of applying for college and filling out financial aid forms will negatively affect the amount of aid they can receive, as student contributions are set at about 20%, meaning it carries more weight than assets in the parents’ names.
- Complete the practice FAFSA form online before filling out the actual document. This will make you aware of the types of information you will have to provide, so you can have it all ready for when you fill out the real thing.
- One of the most important things is to apply as early as possible. The FAFSA can be sent in as early as January 1st, so try to send it in as close to that date as possible. The earlier this gets processed, the more eligible you are for grants, scholarships, loans, etc. because the FAFSA controls access to those things. Any scholarships you receive before filling out the FAFSA will also have to be recorded on the FAFSA, making it quite likely that you will not be eligible for as much aid. Applying after will deter this.
All of these bits of information are just helpful hints to help you get the most of out the FAFSA form, i.e. more federal financial aid. If you’re on top of everything, and you know what you need to do in order to get the best results, you’ll have no problem getting the amount of funding you need to pay for school.