It’s FAFSA Filing Time!

On January 1 the ability to submit the new 2014-2015 FAFSA became real as did the beginning of the financial aid process for many high school seniors. From now until May 1, when students are asked to make their final college decision, acceptance letters, scholarship offers, and financial aid award letters will be sent out by colleges to student’s homes and inboxes, so it is extremely important to accurately file the FAFSA soon to be sure the process goes smoothly. The best way to ensure this: file the FAFSA online!   To get started, CAA Coaches suggest that students and one parent first apply for a FAFSA PIN (Personal Identification Number). This number is used as a sort of password and, most importantly, the electronic signature. Without a PIN, you cannot complete your online FAFSA. And why does only ONE parent need a PIN, you ask? Only one parent needs to sign the FAFSA even if both parent finances are required on the application.   Remember, the FAFSA, aka Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as well as the PIN are both free. Do NOT pay for either and if asked, WALK AWAY! You can find access to both the FAFSA and PIN application here:   For those who are more versed in the FAFSA process, there are just a few changes to be aware of this year. The most significant change focuses on the marital status of parents. Basically, the wording for parents has become gender neutral; instead of “mother” or “father” the FAFSA now uses “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.” The main purpose is to accommodate students with special parental and living situations such as same-sex marriages/partnerships or biological parents who never married but live together. This change is not political, it is simply to make sure all dual-parent (and two-income) households can be calculated equally.   All in all, the FAFSA is pretty straight forward and families should not be overly worried about the process. The FAFSA website has several resources available to address individual questions, and of course CAA clients can ask us—we are experts on this process. We encourage all of our CAA clients to submit their FAFSA as soon as possible on or after January 1 using estimated tax figures; don’t wait or delay filing your taxes during the FAFSA filing years! Once taxes are filed, any necessary updates or corrections can be made.   When your submitted FAFSA is successfully processed, a summary including the calculated results will be posted online a few days later. This document is called a Student Aid Report (SAR). CAA Clients who have filed their taxes and received their SAR can send in these documents for a full review to make sure everything is correct.   The financial aid process does not have to be difficult, so take your time, read (all of) the instructions, and ask questions! Now, go get started!