The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a national application that determines eligibility for educational aid programs. More than 85% of college students receive some sort of financial aid, and federal financial aid, such as Pell Grant, work study and student loans, is determined from this application. Most students find filing these documents confusing to complete due to their unfamiliarity. However, filing the FAFSA is one of the most important tasks to do before the fall semester of college. The following information is provided to help you with this process.
The FAFSA is available starting in mid-November. Applications can be submitted beginning January 1 of the school year in which you are planning to attend. Therefore, the application for 2016-2017 is already open! Federal aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. To ensure receiving an award, the application should be completed before April 1, 2016 for the 2016-2017 school year. Unfortunately, students who wait may miss out on funding, so begin filing as soon as possible.
To file the FAFSA, all income and expenses from the previous year are needed. Taxable and non-taxable income from both parents and the student need to be reported including salaries, social security benefits, veteran’s benefits, child support and non-education benefits. An easy way to complete this section is to use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). This tool quickly transfers the necessary information from federal tax returns directly to the FAFSA form. The form requires applicants to report household assets, such as businesses, trust funds and checking and savings accounts. All expenses should be reported.
Reviewing Each Section
- Student Demographics
- Student’s state of legal residence
- High school information
- Type of aid for which the student would like to be considered
- School Selection – Georgia State’s Federal School Code is 001574
- Dependency Information – A student is only eligible to file independent if the student is:
- Over 24 years of age
- Married or separated
- An orphan
- A veteran of U.S. Armed Forces
- A parent or guardian themselves
- Parent Demographic Information – Parents list other household members, including other dependents attending college.
- Parent Tax Information – Use IRS DRT to make this process quick and easy.
- Parent Financial Information – Family expenses and assets are reported
- Student Tax information – If the student filed taxes, use IRS DRT.
- Student Financial Information – The student’s assets and expenses are reported
- Sign and Submit – Use an electronic pin to sign the FAFSA form. Remember this pin, because you will need this same pin each year when you complete the FAFSA.
After submitting your FAFSA form, it will take up to two weeks to process. Once processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which will tell you how much money you are expected to receive for the school year. This information will be sent to the university. Make sure you sign and return school documents in a timely manner. Furthermore, it is imperative all the information on the FAFSA form is accurate. Incorrect information will delay the process time. An email is sent to the email address on file about the status of your federal application.
Hopefully, you are ready now to complete your FAFSA.