Top 10 Facts You Need To Know About The FAFSA
Last updated March 1, 2021
- Text Get Schooled with any FAFSA questions, text “FAFSA” to 33-55-77
- When you fill out the FAFSA, colleges use this information to see if you are eligible for all types of financial aid – including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. The FAFSA is free and you can file it online at fafsa.ed.gov
- You will use prior-prior year financial information. For example, for the 2019-20 FAFSA, you will use a completed 2017 income tax filing, for the 2020-21 FAFSA, you will use a completed 2018 income tax filing and so on.
- The FAFSA becomes available October 1, and is open until June 30. Many states have priority deadlines in February or March. But don't wait for these deadlines because most states give out money on a first-come first-served basis. This means if you wait too long, you will miss out on thousands of dollars in financial aid.
- It is almost impossible to qualify as an independent student if your parents don’t want to support you or provide their information. The government sees it as their responsibility and you could end up with absolutely no aid. Even if they won’t help you with funds, their information can help you make the best decision on college costs.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) makes moving info from your taxes to the FAFSA easy. Enter your information into the DRT exactly how it is on the tax return. For example, if your address is "Street" on your tax return, enter "Street" and not "St".
- You will use your FSA ID to log into your FAFSA. If you are creating an FSA ID for the first time it will take up to 3 days to process it, so don’t wait until the last minute. If you are a dependent student, your legal parent will need to create an FSA ID.
- Some states require you to put schools in a certain order. Make sure you check your state. If there are no rules, best bet is to either put your top school first or just put them all in alphabetical order.
- If you need in-person help, check in with your counselor to learn about school and community events to help with the FAFSA process.
- Talk to the financial aid counselor at the school you are applying to. At the end of the day the financial aid administrators at each school make the decision of how much and what type of financial aid you can get.
Additional things to consider:
- Check both your snail mail and email regularly, spam folders included. Tell your parents to do the same. Schools will use multiple methods to follow up on your FAFSA.
- When filling out your FAFSA, always use accurate information backed by documents (this is where using the IRS DRT can help). Inaccurate information can cause your FAFSA to be flagged for verification and these documents will help in the verification process.
- If you or your parents experience a significant change in income or other circumstances speak to the financial aid office of the school you are planning to attend.