Are you a parent or student thinking about the FAFSA? Planning ahead can make the process a lot easier. Though filling out your FAFSA may seem like a scary process, it can be painless if you know what you’re doing. Before you sit down to complete your FAFSA, we recommend that you think about a few items:

FSA ID

The FSA ID is your electronic signature for the FAFSA. In most cases, the student and one parent will each need their own FSA ID to sign and complete the FAFSA. Since it can take a couple days for your FSA ID to be verified after you create it, it’s important to allow time for that. You should start by visiting the fsaid.ed.gov site to get your FSA ID.

Why is this important? It’s much faster to file the FAFSA electronically. You have the option to print a paper signature page and mail it, but that can take up to 3 weeks to process. When you file the FAFSA online,it usually takes only 3-5 days.

Correct Tax Information

In previous years, the FAFSA asked for tax information from the prior tax year. In recent years, the FAFSA open date changed to October 1st.This means you no longer need estimated tax information when filing your FAFSA. The FAFSA will ask for tax information from 2 years ago. For example, a student entering college in 2019 will use 2017 federal tax information. This makes the process much smoother, and most families can directly import tax information from the IRS database to their FAFSA form. Being prepared with your correct federal taxes will save time!

Final College List

Before you start your FAFSA, it is important to have your college list in mind. The FAFSA asks which colleges you want to receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) results. You must list at least one college in order to complete the FAFSA.

It is also important to know whether there is a particular order for listing your colleges. Some states will only award their residents state financial aid if you list one of their public colleges at the top of the list. Also, please know that you can always go back and make changes to the list at a later time. Coaches can help you plan your FAFSA college order, if needed. You can also check the StudentAid.gov website for more information about your home state’s requirements: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/school-list.

Work-Study

Do you want to work in college? You should know that there is a FAFSA question about Federal Work-Study. You can answer that you want to be considered, that you don’t want to be considered, or that you’re not sure.There’s no downside to saying “yes” because it doesn’t commit you to anything,but answering “no” or “don’t know” could keep you from being considered for this type of aid. Think about how you want to answer that question before you start your FAFSA. An on-campus work-study job can have its benefits, so don’t rule it out before you even start.

Hopefully, this blog helps you feel more prepared as you sit down to complete this important financial aid form. Coaches don’t want you to be worried about this step in the process. We are here to help you along the way and even check your FAFSA for accuracy. Contact your CAA coaches as you have questions.

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Paul

Being a coach gives me the chance to experience the joy of helping people often!