Hello, all! With just a few days left in 2012, Go Financial Aid has some important information to remind you of. Beginning January 1st, the financial aid season officially begins. So what does this mean to you? F-A-F-S-A. The beginning of the new year rings in with lots of parties and celebrating and resolutions, but it is also the earliest opportunity any student has to get financial aid for college.
If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you know how very important the FAFSA is, because we say a good bit about it. If not (or it's your first time applying), listen up. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is every college student's ticket to getting money to pay for college. This application is the governmental standard for financial aid, meaning that filling it out is required if you want to be considered for federal money like loans (Stafford Loan, etc.) and grants (Pell Grant, etc.).
Now, while it's true that students have until June 30th to fill out and submit the form, it is essential that you put it high on your priority list. Why? Well, just like the buffet line at grandma's 80th birthday celebration, financial aid is first come/first served. The sooner you gather the required information and send it all in, the more likely you are to get a larger sum of college money. Loan and grant programs, sponsored by our government, distribute funds through individual colleges a lot of times, and they have a budget to follow, which means that your school has a certain amount that they can give out before running out of loan or grant money.
A few things you'll need to provide...
- Social Security number. Yes, you will need to include it on the application, so make sure you know it! As a side note, students will find that this number will be needed more and more through life, in applying for jobs and much more in order to idenitfy you.
- Driver's license number. Yet another one of those bits of info we seem to need for many things. If you do not hold a license, this can be left blank.
- Citizenship status. The government would like to know if the applicant in question is a U.S. citizen, and if not, an alien registration number is required.
- Marital status. Marital status affects financial aid in that a dual-income family would receive a different amount of aid.
- Student and parent income tax and earnings information. This will help to determine financial need by looking at how much money you've made (and paid in taxes).
- Degree pursuit information. FAFSA asks applicants which degree they are attended school for, i.e. a first bachelor's degree. second bachelor's degree, associate's, masters, etc.
- Parents' marital status. Divorced or married families are considered differently in terms of financial aid eligibility/award amount.
And the list goes on! The FAFSA is a very long document to complete, comprised of 106 required responses, some of which are very straightforward (i.e. male or female) and others that are more specific (i.e. school registration/identification number) or personal (i.e. net worth of parent's assests). In any case, this document is, as some would say, a "necessary evil." Your receipt of federal financial aid hinges on its completion, for without it the government will not call and ask if you would like financial aid this year (and you will not be considered for it).
We cannot stress enough how important it is to start financial aid season 2013 off right by submitting the FAFSA early. We know that it seems like this school year has just barely started and it may seem odd to worry about next year already...but it will only help you! Your best solution? Submit your FAFSA on January 1st!