Each year in United States, thousands of high school seniors and returning college students choose to finance their college education through government financial aid. If you are planning to use financial aid to pay for your education, now is the time to begin filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, also known as your FAFSA! I’ve got the FAFSA tips and information you need to make the FAFSA completion process easy and stress-free!
2013-2014 FAFSA Tips and Information
You’ll find tons of tips and information about completing your college FAFSA below!
What is the FAFSA?
Like I mentioned above, the FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” The form is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid for college. The financial aid that is awarded comes in the form of grants, loans, and work study. The FAFSA itself is about 100 questions long. It asks information like your family’s income and assets, the size of your household, and how many members of your family are in school. The government will analyze your form and determine how much financial aid you are eligible for.
Did you know that more than $150 billion of financial aid is awarded each year? To see if you’re eligible for it, click here to start completing your free FAFSA online now. You can also download a PDF here.
What is the FAFSA deadline for 2013-2014?
The Federal deadline for the 2013-2014 online FAFSA form is by midnight Central Time on June 30, 2014. Any corrections/updates must be submitted by midnight Central Time on September 24, 2014.
Your state will have a different FAFSA deadline from other states. Click here to see the deadline for your state.
It is strongly recommended that you check with the college institutions you are considering or the institution you currently attend to make sure you do not miss their FAFSA deadline.
When you do check with the college(s) about their deadlines for your FAFSA form, follow these tips:
- Ask whether their application deadline is the date the college receives your FAFSA or the date your FAFSA is processed. This is very important to know.
- If you’re a high school senior, contact the financial aid office of each college you are considering and ask them if there are additional forms they require in addition to the FAFSA to process your request for financial aid, as some colleges do require additional documents.
- If you are a returning college student, contact the financial aid office at your college and ask them if there are any additional forms you need to fill out in addition to the FAFSA form. Some colleges will require additional documentation, while others will not. In any case, it is important to ask each year as your college’s financial aid guidelines can change at any time.
How do I fill out my FAFSA?
You can fill out the FAFSA online at the FAFSA.gov website, by paper PDF, or you can order a paper FAFSA by mail. Your college may have a paper copy in their financial aid office, too. The 2013-2014 online form became available on January 1, 2013. Remember, you must fill out the FAFSA every year you are enrolled in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. It takes students an average of less than half an hour to complete the FAFSA!
What do I need to fill out my FAFSA?
There are 3 important things you need to have when completing your FAFSA.
- The first thing you’ll need to fill out your FAFSA is a Federal Student Aid PIN, or personal identification number. This PIN allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically, sign loan contracts, and view your FAFSA information online. While you can get your PIN while filling out your FAFSA, it’s best to get it earlier. Click here to get your PIN now.
- The second thing you’ll need to have is identification. This includes your social security number, your parent’s social security numbers (if you’re a dependent student), and your driver’s license number (if you have one). If you are not a U.S. Citizen, you must have your Alien Registration number and your Alien Registration or Permanent Resident Card.
- The third thing you should have is your 2012 Federal Income Tax Return including IRS W-2 forms and other records of money earned. If you’re married, you should also have your spouse’s 2012 Federal Income Tax Return. If you’re a dependent student, you should have your Parent’s 2012 Federal Income Tax Return. In addition, you should have your 2012 untaxed income records, current bank statements, current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, and stock, bond, and other investment records.
Filing your 2012 federal taxes early will make the FAFSA completion process much easier. If you or your parent has not filed taxes for 2012 before completing the FAFSA and needs to estimate the income information on the FAFSA form, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to make corrections at a later date once your taxes have been filed. It is important to note, however, that the IRS won’t begin processing most tax returns until January 30 or later to accommodate the late changes made by legislation on January 2.
Okay, so I know that list of what to bring when filling out your FAFSA can seem very overwhelming! Don’t worry though; you can get it all organized with the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet! Filling out this worksheet will make completing the real FAFSA form quick and easy!
Remember, your FAFSA information will be sent out to the colleges you choose to send it to. You can use the Federal School Code Search here to get the codes for each college you’re interested in. The code search will also show other information like tuition, fee amounts, graduation rates, and much more. You can even compare up to 10 colleges at once!
Keep reading for even more FAFSA tips and information!
What happens after I complete my FAFSA?
Once you submit your FAFSA, here’s what happens next:
- The information is shared with the colleges you list on the application. Then, the financial aid office at each school determines how much federal student aid you may receive at that particular school.
- While your FAFSA application is being processed you can check the status of it anytime online.
- Once your FAFSA is processed, the office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). It’s basically a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. The SAR should arrive within 3 days to 3 weeks of submitting your FAFSA. You should look over the SAR to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes on your FAFSA. The SAR will not tell you how much financial aid you are eligible for. Instead, the college(s) you listed on you FAFSA will send you an electronic or paper “award letter” telling you how much aid you are eligible for at each school.
- You then must respond to the school’s award letter within the deadline set by the college.
- To actually get your financial aid, you should talk to the financial aid staff at the college you choose to accept aid from. Get tips on accepting aid here.
How do I make corrections or updates to my FAFSA?
You can correct your FAFSA online or on paper once your application has been processed. Making corrections online is the easier and fastest way, of course. You can update your information if it changes since you filed your FAFSA. Click here to get more information about updating your FAFSA if your situation has changed.
How can I estimate my eligibility for federal student aid?
You can estimate your eligibility using the FAFSA4caster! All you do is answer a few questions and click submit! You should have your federal tax information to fill use the FAFSA4caster.
I need to contact someone to get FAFSA help.
If you have any questions about anything related to the FAFSA, help is available. You can visit the FAFSA website help page first to see if your question can be answered there, live chat with a FAFSA customer service rep, call the FAFSA contact number at 1-800-433-3243 to speak to someone directly, or email your question to FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov.
Most states have free events to help students get professional assistance in filling out their FAFSA. See if there is an event in your state by clicking here. If there is not an event available in your state, the website provides alternative ways to get help with your FAFSA.
Preparing for College – Beyond the FAFSA
Of course, completing your FAFSA isn’t the only thing you’ll have to prepare for college. Check out this helpful student moving checklist from U-Pack®! It lists everything you might possibly need for college, like stuff for the bathroom, school supplies, and even stuff for moving day. And speaking of moving, I suggest using U-Pack to make your move to college easy and affordable. U-Pack’s ReloCube® moving container is big enough to hold one room’s worth of furnishings – perfect for college. Plus, it fits in a single parking space so you won’t have to worry about taking up a lot of room on move in day. With rates comparable to truck rental, you can move on a student budget with U-Pack and not have to drive (since U-Pack does that for you!). All you do is load and unload. Get a free moving quote for a U-Pack Cube here, or call 800-413-4799. Like I said, U-Pack has the perfect student moving solution if you’re moving long distance to college!
More FAFSA Tips and Information
Have you filled out the FAFSA before? Leave a comment and let us know your tips for applying for FAFSA successfully! Or, check out the links below to learn more about the FAFSA!
Helpful FAFSA Links