The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the most important thing that college-bound students can do to get federal financial aid for school—and most families know it. According to How America Pays for College, a 2017 study by Sallie Mae® and Ipsos, 86% of families reported filing a FAFSA last year. Make sure you and your students don’t miss out on this opportunity. These tips can help them complete their application and maximize the aid available to them.
1. Mark your calendars.
FAFSA applications can be submitted starting October 1. This date is important for students, so they don’t miss out on first-come, first-served money for college.
2. Preparation is key.
Students should gather the necessary information before they start the FAFSA. For this year’s application, they’ll need their parents’ 2017 income tax return.
3. The sooner, the better.
What happens when students submit a FAFSA as close to October 1 as they can? Families receive their Student Aid Report (SAR) sooner and may receive financial aid award letters from schools earlier too. This means families may have more time to review their award letters and plan how they will pay for college. The timing of awards will vary by school, so make sure your students and their families check with financial aid offices and school websites for more information.
4. Take a chance and apply.
Some families don’t apply because they think their income is too high to qualify for federal financial aid. Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial assistance, regardless of income.
5. Watch out for scams.
Remember, the “F” in FAFSA stands for free. Don’t let your students fall for websites that charge for the FAFSA. The only site they should use to get a FSA ID and submit the FAFSA is FAFSA.gov.
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