FAFSA: Why You Need It, How to Start

How do I know if I should fill out the FAFSA?
Most college financial aid, of any type, requires the free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and many colleges and states require your FAFSA information to award their own grants and scholarships.
Check-off any of the college financial aid you’re interested in qualifying for:
____  Need-based financial aid, such as government funded Pell Grants, which you don’t have to pay
____  Merit aid, such as grants and scholarships from colleges, which you don’t have to repay
____  State-sponsored financial aid
____  Student loans, such as Perkins and Stafford Loans, and PLUS Loans for parent borrowers
____  Work-study programs (a job on campus while you attend)
** If you placed a check mark next to any of these, you should definitely fill out the FAFSA.
Tip: Use the FAFSA4caster to estimate your eligibility for federal student aid.  Simply go to www.fafsa.ed.gov

When should I fill out the FAFSA?
FAFSA is available starting October 1st of your senior year, and you should start the application as early as possible that month.
Why so early, you ask?  The FAFSA takes time, and many colleges and states have their own varying deadlines.  Some FAFSA money is awarded on a first-come, first served basis.  The early bird gets the worm!

What things do I need to get ready to file?
Make sure you have:
____  Your Social Security number, or if not a U.S. citizen, alien registration number or permanent resident
____  Your driver’s license number
____  Your parents’ and your most recent tax return(s).  Tip: This year you’ll be using 2015 tax information
____  Your parents’ and your most recent bank statements
____  Your parents’ most recent business, mortgage, and investment records

Ready to Start?
Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and start with the “FAFSA on the Web Worksheet” which outlines everything you need to file.  Completing that worksheet will save you time once you start the actual FAFSA.
Once you enter all of your information, double-check your work and print out a copy to keep for your records.  After your FAFSA is filed, you can log on and check the status at any time.  Note: Some private colleges also require the CSS Profile, found at collegeboard.org, which is a separate financial aid form.