Saturday, September 30
Last-Minute FAFSA Tips to Get You Started: Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) may seem tremendously daunting or somewhat confusing for many first-time applicants.
Having all the necessary tax documents on hand, seeing foreign terms like “FSA ID” or “W-2,” and even just taking time to complete the form can be completely overwhelming.
But, with the right information, applying for federal aid doesn’t need to be a difficult or a perplexing procedure. Here are 3 important last-minute tips you need to begin, understand, and complete your financial aid application today.
1.) Start NOW
Get started as soon as possible. The application takes roughly an hour to complete and is fairly simple to understand, once you know what is needed.
In order to begin your application, you must first create an FSA ID to electronically sign your federal student aid documents. This ID will also allow you to log in to the FAFSA and begin your application.
Note: Creating the FSA ID can take several days, so don’t wait until the last minute. A parent will also need to create an FSA ID to sign your FAFSA, if you’re under 24.
Once you’ve received this ID, you can begin your application for federal student aid and fully access your Student Aid Report online. The sooner you begin your application, the easier it becomes to solve any time sensitive difficulties you may experience along the way. Filling in incorrect data, or leaving a required field blank, will delay the processing of your application.
2.) Be Prepared
You’ll need several things on hand in order to complete your FAFSA, and having them ready when you begin will save you a great deal of time and stress. According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, here is what you need in order to fill out your application:
- Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you’re not a U.S. citizen)
- The prior year’s federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned (ex. for 2017-2018 FAFSA, the 2015 federal tax return is needed)
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- An FSA ID to sign electronically
Note: If you’re a dependent student, then you’ll need most of this information from your parents as well.
Once you have these items, you’ll be able to accurately and quickly fill out your FAFSA. If you don’t have all that you need listed above, request to receive those resources immediately.
3.) Submit Your Form ASAP
There are many errors that can be made on the FAFSA, and incorrectly submitting your application, or not completing one at all, can be an extremely costly mistake. Once you begin, save along the way in case you need to stop, or have missing information that you need to collect, so that you can go back in and later continue.
Undoubtedly, you’ll run into questions and may be unsure what to fill in on your application. This is completely normal. The FAFSA Help page is a great tool and has a list of FAQs with the valuable guidance you need to finish your federal aid application properly.
See this Financial Aid Checklist with important dates and information you need to ensure your application is started, filled out, and submitted in a timely manner.
Note: Include the Grace College school code (001800) on your FAFSA to receive a personalized financial aid offer from Grace.
Let’s Wrap Up the FAFSA Tips: If you have special circumstances, are unclear about what is needed, or do not understand a step along the way, Grace College’s Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping students and families understand the financial aid process. Please contact our office at 800-544-7223 ext. 6162 for help. Alternatively, feel free to contact your admissions counselor, and he or she can easily get you the information you need in your college selection process.