FAFSA: 10 Things You Need to Know

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

10 things you should know about the FAFSA:

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

2) 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.

3) 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.

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

5) Visit this site and scroll to the list of required paperwork you will need to gather.

6) Be prepared. The process can take a couple of hours. The same page from item #5 has detailed info about the process.

7) Need more help? 26 Places to Get Help with the FAFSA

8) While the FAFSA is an online application, you can still print out a worksheet if you prefer to see things on paper. (This worksheet is the 2020/21 version.)

9) 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. When you use the DRT, the numbers will not be visible to you. You will see “Transferred from the IRS” in the field instead.

10) 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.

Bonus tip: Consider using the mobile app. Entitled “myStudentAid,” it can be an easier format for your family. Click here for Google Play Store and here for Apple Store.

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.


Enjoy this post? Don’t want to miss any future blogs about education, college, or careers?