It’s the time for filing the FAFSA so I thought I would offer a few tips about the FAFSA.
- The web address for the FAFSA is www.fafsa.ed.gov. DO NOT go to www.fafsa.com. This site will charge you to do what you can do for free.
- Make sure you put the correct social security number for the student and the parents.
- Make sure you spell the students and parents proper names correctly. Many people use nicknames or shortened names on the FAFSA and that can cause a dely in processing. Kristen, not Kris.
- When the FAFSA talks about “You”, they mean the student. Don’t put parent income and assets under the student questions and student income and assets under the parents.
- Don’t dely in getting the FAFSA filed. Using estimates for your income is very common and not a problem. You can always make corrections when you have the full information.
- Everyone should file a FAFSA. Yes, I know that you don’t think your family will qualify for financial aid, and you might not. But you won’t know if you don’t file a FAFSA. You might be pleasantly surprised.
- Filing a FAFSA is required for federal student aid but some scholarships also rely on the FAFSA to qualify. In other words, if you don’t file a FAFSA you might lose out on a scholarship from some colleges.
- If your families income is close to, or below $50,000, you should consider filing a 1040A or 1040EZ. Why? Families with income below $50,000 who file a 1040A or 1040 EZ will not generally have their assets included for purposes of calculating your families expected contribution.
- If your family income is below $30,000 and you file a 1040A or 1040EZ you qualify for an automatic $0 expected family contribution.
- Your assets are determined as of the date of your filing of the FAFSA. So if you have been saving up for that new car, buy the car before filing your FAFSA.
- The FAFSA will consider 20% of student assets available for college but only a maximum of 5.6% of parent assets. Going to buy a computer for college? Buy it before filling out your FAFSA.
- Read a copy of Paying for College Without Going Broke 2009, by Kalman Chany. Buy it, borrow it, find it at a library. Whatever you do, you should read this book before filing a FAFSA.
Many people are intimidated by the FAFSA but filing online has made the process easier and less subject to errors than the paper version since the online version has error checkers built in. Follow this advice and you will be in good shape.