So you’ve submitted college applications, sent letters of recommendations, and taken your SAT and ACT tests. You’ve done all you can to convince the schools of your choice that you belong on their campuses. What now?
As you wait for those college acceptance letters to roll in, now is the best time to fill out your FAFSA application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA for short, is provided by the office of Federal Student Aid and provides students with access to grants, loans, and work-study funds for college.
Most financial aid is given on a first-come, first-serve basis so understanding the deadline for submitting your application is very important. The final date to submit your application is June 30, 2016, but that does not mean wait until then to submit! In reality, most colleges and universities have much earlier deadlines for FAFSA applications. For example, the UC school deadline for FAFSA submissions is March 2nd, 2016.
Make sure to check out the school websites for any colleges and universities you applied to and verify their deadlines. You don’t want to miss out on any potential scholarships or aid!
The entire process of filling out your FAFSA can take anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours so make sure to plan your time accordingly. To help trim down completion time, here is a list of documents and information you should gather before you begin your application.
What You Need for Your FAFSA
Social Security Number – Just like when you were prepping your college application, you’ll need to be ready to enter it again when filling out the FAFSA.
Federal Income Tax Returns and W-2s – To properly calculate aid, the FAFSA will ask for information off these documents for yourself and parents, so keep them handy.
An FSA ID – You will need to setup an free account on the Federal Student Aid Website ahead of filling out the application. This will allow you to save your information and save your application.
School Codes – Use the FAFSA website to find school codes for colleges and universities you are interested in listing on your FAFSA application. You can add up to 10 school codes to an application, and should include schools you have applied or been accepted to.
Gathering this information ahead of time should help minimize the time you spend filling out the entire application. However, accuracy is key so make sure to leave plenty of time for the FAFSA to avoid any mistakes.
Good luck, students!