When it comes to getting the most for your money, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Asking for financial aid help can save you a lot of money. You (or your child) worked hard, got into college, and are embarking on a whole new experience called college. Here are some quick tips to help you along the way.
- There is a limited amount of scholarship and grant money available each school year, so remember to apply early. The earlier you apply the better the your chances are of receiving financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are the most desirable form of financial aid because this is money you will not need to pay back. This type of financial aid is awarded on a need based and first come, first served basis. Remember the deadline for filling out your FAFSA is June 30th. However, the longer you wait the slimmer your chances of receiving aid even if you are eligible.
- Taxes may not be due until April 15th but the sooner you complete your IRS 1040 the easier it will be for you to fill out your FAFSA application. By completing your taxes early, you will have easy access to all of your financial information in one place. If you do not complete your taxes earlier in the year, consider getting FAFSA help by hiring a financial aid consultant.
- Get your FSA ID. You can apply for this ID online. It will give you access to the FAFSA form and your financial records online throughout your college career. This number can be mailed or e-mailed to you. Keep it in a safe place, but if you do lose it you can request it again.
- You cannot receive what you do not apply for. There are a wide variety of grants and scholarships out there and chances are you will find something you qualify for. Keep searching, you will be surprised what is out there.
- Students’ assets are weighed more heavily than parents assets. For this reason, students should spend their assets before their parents in order to minimize the amount expected to go towards education. Check out our FAFSA Calculator to estimate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Remember to keep in mind expenses a student may have including a computer, books, dorm supplies, etc. The FAFSA does not take these into account. To minimize your assets, consider paying bills ahead of time.
- Stay organized: gather all the materials you will need to complete your FAFSA, it will save you time and the aggravation of looking once you've started your application. You will need: your social security number, driver’s license number, W-2 forms, your (and your spouse’s or parent’s) Federal Income Tax Return, a current bank statement, current business and investment mortgage information along with any other investment information.
- Remember in order for a FAFSA application to be processed, all of the blanks need to be filled in. Use zeros or not applicable instead of leaving information blank, too many blanks may cause FAFSA to reject your application. If you aren’t sure about something, check with a FAFSA and CSS Profile consultant.
- Remember to renew your FAFSA. In order to keep your grants and loans coming, you will need to renew your FAFSA yearly. You can use the FAFSA renewal form online. This form will pre-populate information, allow you to update information, and fill in your current tax information.
There is plenty of financial aid help available from financial aid advisors and financial aid consultants. Don't be afraid to ask for help!