college

How do I: Fill out the FAFSA form?

Topic: COLLEGE FINANCE
Who is affected: PARENTHOOD, STARTING OUT
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: ADVANCED
What you'll need: FAFSA, FORM (DOWNLOADED ONLINE AT THE FAFSA WEB SITE), SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, DRIVER'S LICENSE, MOST RECENT W-2 FORMS, OTHER RECORDS OF MONEY EARNED, MOST RECENT INCOME TAX RETURN, CURRENT BANK STATEMENTS, INVESTMENT RECORDS, PARENTS' MOST RECENT INCOME TAX RETURN (IF YOU ARE A DEPENDENT STUDENT), ALIEN REGISTRATION OR PERMANENT RESIDENT CARD (IF YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN)

What you need to know

Other than your application to get into college, the FAFSA is the most important form you will fill out for college. It is used for almost every kind of financial aid you can receive, from grants and work-study opportunities to federal student loans.

The best way to get the most aid is to apply early. You can send in your FAFSA as early as Jan. 1, but no later than the end of June for the upcoming school year. The sooner you apply the better; aid is usually given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Filling out a FAFSA:

  • Get all the needed documents together.
  • Print out the FAFSA on the Web work sheet. By filling this form out first, you are essentially completing the FAFSA form and just need to transfer that information online. It starts off easy, but gets next to impossible pretty quickly, so keep your patience and take breaks as needed. Help is available on the FAFSA Web site.
  • Fill out the FAFSA online and submit.
  • Wait to receive your Student Aid Report, or SAR. Go over it for any errors, and get problems corrected quickly. Again, the clock is ticking on that student cash.
Step-by-step
Use this calculator to find out what the average cost of going to college will be and the amount of financial aid you will need to make up the difference.

 

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