Applying for FAFSA
It's the first week of October which means the FAFSA has begun accepting applications for the 2017 - 2018 school year. My experience with FAFSA, as a first-generation American, was stressful. It is a very lengthy and intimidating application so this blog post was created to guide you through the process, step by step.
Before you get started, make sure you are on FAFSA.org not FAFSA.com. You should NOT be charged any fee's for the application because it is a free application!
Step 1. - Login
To begin the FAFSA, you need to input personal information to verify your identity before you can create a login and password. It is very important that you remember your login because you will use FAFSA to apply for Federal and State Financial Aid for the rest of your educational career. Changing the password or pin number is a long process because the website holds very confidential information like social security, address, and tax information. The website will require you to change your password every year.
Step 2 - Student Demographics
It is important that you input the correct information. Incorrect information could cause delays, that may reduce the amount of financial aid you receive. Memorize this information or save it in a secure place. Remember this is a Federal Document.
Step 3 - School Selection
Select the colleges you are applying to and those schools will automatically receive your financial information. You can choose up to 10 (Maximum) colleges that will receive your financial information through FAFSA. If you do not add a school to your FAFSA, your college application (for that school) will be incomplete so this is a critical step. Select a college by looking up the school name, the state, or putting in the school code. If you decide not to apply to a college that's on your FAFSA, you can easily remove it at any time, just remember t re-submit any changes you make. FAFSA also provides aid for Technical schools like also provided Cosmetology and Trade schools.
Step 4 - Dependency Status
If you are under the age of 18, chances are, you're a dependent. A dependent is someone who is legally under the care of their parent/guardian or anyone who claims you on their taxes. You're an independent if you live on your own and are not claimed by anyone else.
Step 5 - Parent Demographic
Make sure you put the parent that is your legal guardian, not just the parent you live with. You also need to provide valid email addresses and phone numbers. Aditional information is necessary if your parents are divorced, separated, deceased or if you are adopted.
Step 6 - Financial Information
This is the longest and most important part of the FAFSA. Make sure every number and date is correct. Thankfully, the FAFSA will not allow you to submit the form if something is incorrect. The student and parent/guardian have to provide financial information If you or your parent/guardian does not work or receive a W2 form, then you should indicate that in the form. It's best to copy financial information directly from tax returns or you could link the FAFSA website with the IRS website which will transfer the information for you. It is critical that you and you're parents keep records of all tax information. Remember, once your taxes for the current year is completed, you have to update your information on the FAFSA to accurately reflect that.
Step 7 - Sign and Submit
For the last step, you and your parent/guardian need to provide PIN numbers to verify your identity, agree to terms and conditions, then submit the form. You must sign and submit the FAFSA every time you make a correction (Change information). If you don’t submit the new corrections, your colleges will not get the information.
I hope this is helpful! If you have more questions comment below, go to the FAFSA.org or ask your school counselor for assistance.