FAFSA website

Focus on a Topic: FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

High school senior parents…Starting October 1st, you can begin to file your student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

Some things you should know:

The FAFSA has “free” in the title. Don’t be fooled by some websites wanting to charge you to file on your behalf.

One parent and the student will each need their own FSA ID, a username/password combo that is used to sign electronically. You can get that at anytime. It can take a couple days to process. You don’t have to wait until 10/1. Click here.

Having your student be a part of this process is a good idea–a learning experience. Students need to understand the financial process, the financial cost, and the potential future burden if loans are involved.

Filing is a good idea even if you don’t think you are eligible for federal financial aid. Federal student loans require the FAFSA. Also, if something should happen in the future to change your financial situation (illness, loss of job), having a FAFSA on file is helpful.

Here’s an article with some tips on what paperwork you will need to gather.

Be prepared. The process can take a couple of hours. Here’s a helpful infographic about the process.

Need more help? 24 Places to Get Help with the FAFSA

While the FAFSA is an online application (they will not accept paper), you can still print out a worksheet if you prefer to see things on paper.

Hate typing in numbers? The IRS and the Department of Education created a Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to link the FAFSA to your federal income taxes. In 2017, security issues have hampered the DRT. When you use the DRT starting 10/1/17, the numbers will not be visible to you. You will see “Transferred from the IRS” in the field instead.

A final tip comes from our friends at Capstone Wealth Partners, try to complete the process by November 1st. Financial aid is first come, first served.

No one is probably excited about completing the FAFSA except maybe accountants, but it is an important step in the college application process. Be sure to tackle this task.