If you haven’t already, it is…
TIME TO SUBMIT THE FAFSA FOR 2013-2014 school year:
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA, provides the foundation for the college financial aid process. Colleges and many scholarship foundations use the report generated by the FAFSA to evaluate an applicant’s financial need.
- Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st each year.
- The FAFSA application is available online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov
- Follow the directions carefully; errors in filing will slow down the process and may make you ineligible for aid.
- Both the student and parent(s) will need PINs, Personal Identification Numbers that serve as your electronic signature. Get your PIN before completing your FAFSA.
You can apply for a PIN at http://www.pin.ed.gov.
- To complete the FAFSA, you’ll need copies of your parents’ and your tax returns for the preceding year, as well as social security numbers and other demographic information. Financial records, such as information about as- sets like stocks, bank accounts, real estate, and businesses, will also be needed.
- Young men over 18 must be registered with Selective Service to qualify for aid. Make a copy of the completed form before submitting.
- Two to three weeks after completing the online FAFSA you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR).
The SAR reports an expected family contribution (EFC) – the amount you and your family will be expected to contribute to your first year of study.
- The difference between the EFC and the total cost of your first year of attendance equals your established need. The SAR will also tell you if you qualify for a Pell Grant – gift money provided for students with the highest established need.
- Check the SAR for accuracy and make any needed corrections.
- Colleges you’ve applied to receive a copy of your SAR at your request. The SAR is used by the college financial aid office to build a financial aid package for each accepted student.
- Some colleges will meet all of your established need while others will have funds to only partially meet need.
- The financial aid package you receive will most likely offer a combination of grants (gift money), loans, and work study.
- You are free to accept any part of the package you wish.
- A new FAFSA must be filed each year and students must re-qualify annually for college financial aid.
- With the high cost of private colleges, many families will qualify for some type of financial assistance.
- It is not unusual for families earning over $150,000 annually to be eligible. For this reason, don’t just assume you won’t qualify for financial aid.
- Complete and submit a new FAFSA each year; family financial circumstances often change and eligibility for aid could increase dramatically whenever another sibling begins college.
GATHERING THE DOCUMENTS YOU NEED
For both Student and Parent(s):
- The FAFSA asks for information about you THE STUDENT (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, when you filed taxes or what tax form you used), you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA–
- Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
- Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
- Your driver’s license number if you have one
- Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
***IMPORTANT: Use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying.
If you are filling out the 2013–2014 FAFSA, you will need —
2012 tax information
- Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
- IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
- Foreign tax return, or
- Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- Keep these records! You may need them again. Do not mail your records to FAFSA.
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You may want to consider the option in FAFSA on the Web to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You may be able to use the tool if you filed your taxes electronically at least three weeks ago or if you filed on paper at least eight weeks ago.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool takes you to the IRS website, where you’ll need to log in by providing your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return.
- At the IRS site, you can preview your information to make sure it looks correct before agreeing to have it transferred to your FAFSA.
- When you return to the FAFSA, you’ll see that questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with “Transferred from the IRS.” Don’t make any changes to those answers (except where Individual Retirement Account or pension rollovers are involved), or you’ll invalidate the information you retrieved.
- Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool saves you time and effort:
- You don’t have to find your tax records and locate the data needed for your FAFSA.
- You don’t have to worry about making mistakes entering your tax information on your FAFSA.
- If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and don’t change any of the retrieved information in your FAFSA, you won’t need to provide tax transcripts if you’re selected for verification.