FAFSA 101

1. Tax returns for student and/or parents/guardians. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows for taxpayers to ask the IRS to release tax infformation directly to the Department of Education, which can help avoid collecting documents and cuts down on time spent manually entering the data.

2. FSA ID: The username and password needed to log in to some Department of Education sites and electronically sign the FAFSA. Student and parents can request an FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov.

3. Asset records for student and/or parents, including bank statements and investment records.

4. Social Security numbers for students and parents.

5. Driver's license or other eligible form of government ID for students and parents.

6. Federal school codes for the schools students will be applying to, available at fafsa.ed.gov

Ten Financial Aid Facts

It's not enought to complete a FAFSA correctly and submit it on time. There are concerete strategies students' familes can use to reduce their expected family contribution (EFC), which will increase their eligibility for aid. It's well worth every family's time to learn what these are.

EFC formulas vary by college and university. For example, some colleges factor in home equity, others don't. Knowing the difference before students apply for aid can make a big difference in their financial award. 

A modest two-point increase in standardized test scores can generate $10,000 more in scholarships. If student are contemplating about retaking their SAT or ACT, this fact could be very motivating.

Even though their may be private and community scholarships available (typically $2,000 or less), the bulk of scholarship money comes from colleges and universitites themselves; this is where students should focus the bulk of their time and effort.

It is possible to appeal or even negotiate an academic award after final letters are received. For example, families can appeal when there's been a change in income. if they've incurred unexpected medical expenses or even if a similarly ranked college made a better offer. 

Parents who are small-business owners have additional college-funding strategies available, such as holding their assets in business accounts to minimize their EFC's. For students whose family owns a business, exploring these ins and outs wth an expert can be a game-changer.

Using the IRS data retrieval system when completing the FAFSA can save headaches later. Exact spelling and working is crucial for the system to work correctly. If used correctly, students may receive their award letters sooner and are less likely to require verification by schools. 

A state school should always be listed first to see state-eligible grant money on award letters. If student do not put a state school first, they may miss out on important state aid.

Each university has different requirements when it comes to completing and submitting the College Scholarship Service profile and other financial aid documents. It's crucial for student to follow each institution's requirments to receive timely award letters and be able to make a sound financial decision for college. Students could be missing out on thousands of dollars if these requirements are ignored.

Be sure to attend the FAFSA information night at DGS and the Conquering College cost presentation at North during 2nd semester. Receiving up to date financial information is essential to making informed decisions based on heresay or past experience. 

FAFSA Myths
by College Covered

If students think they are going to borrow money at all, they need to fill out the FAFSA. Not all financial aid is need-based. Unsubsidized loans also require students to fill out the FAFSA.

Most applicants qualify for some aid, regardless of their parents' earnings. The FAFSA actually has no income cap, so student can apply not matter how high their family income.

If students don't qualify at the federal level, they may still qualify at the state or institution level. Filling out the FAFSA also qualifies students for grants, work-study, scholarships and college aid.

On average, it takes about 30 minuntes to fill out. The FAFSA has been streamlined, especially online where the application users skip logic that will skip over unnecessary questions.

If students are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible noncitizen, they can fill out a FAFSA. If students' parents are undocumented, they can use nine zeroes (000000000) where it asks for their Social Security numbers. If they get an error message, they should keep hitting the Next button until they advance to the next page. When they reach the end, they will have to click the Submit button several times if they get the same error. Students can still file for an FSA ID even if their parents are undocumented. Students need to print out the signature page, sign it and have their parents sign it. Then they send it in, and they can get their FSA ID.

If student's parents didn't file a tax return, schools may require students to submit a non-tax filer parent statement or an income and expences reprot. If students' parents don't want to submit their financial information, students can indicate on the FAFSA that there are special circumstances. this allows students to complete the form withouth those details. They will, however, have to contact the financial aid office to provide documentation.

 

Financial Aid Resources

From the SallieMae people, CASHE is a comprehensive source of financial aid resources for college scholarships. It's easy to use and delivers quick results.

www.salliemae.com

During the Fall of 2000, CHCI will introduce its new Scholarship Program offering scholarship awards to students who have demonstrated a strong commitment toward exercising leadership in their community and who plan to continue their education. The Scholarship Program is about creating educational opportunities for our Latino youth in all fields of study. Every year, the Institute will offer a minimum of 15 talented and bright Latinos a scholarship, in the amount of $1,500 to $5,000, to assist in completing their educational endeavors.  

A database of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans representing billions of dollars in private sector funding. The College Board makes it easy to plan for your financial needs. Allows determining the amount of money you would need at the time the student enters college. The analysis is free, instantaneous, and completely secure and confidential.

CouponChief.com’s Student Savings Guide will walk students through 10 quick but heavy-duty savings tips to help them make it through to graduation with money to spare. The college years are intense. Not only do students have to figure out how to cover the cost of tuition and books, but they need to survive on a pittance. But being a student also means being able to take advantage of student discounts that aren’t limited to on-campus deals. Read the guide to learn more.

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa

Use this online form to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You must complete and submit this application to apply for Federal Student Aid.

https://www.edvisors.com/fafsa/book/user-info/

The FAFSA eBook Guide is your roadmap to completing the FAFSA form thouroughly, correctly, and quickly. The FAFSA financial aid application is one of the most important forms you'll ever fill out for financial aid, and thousands of students miss millions of dollars every year by not completing it quickly or correctly.

The line-by-line guide will walk you through the FAFSA, related tax forms, and give you tips and suggestions for maximizing the aid you're eligible for.

http://www.finaid.org/

Top quality home page from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators of links to many financial aid related sites, ranging from institutions to government to scholarships to scam alerts. The EFC estimator and the access to Fast Web are also highlights of this site. Most of the Financial Aid pages listed here are linked from this page.

As FAFSA filing time approaches, your students will feel less anxious if they know what to expect regarding financial aid.  You might wish to use the FAFSA power point and the financial aid toolkit listed below to assist in completing the application.

The "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" or FAFSA is the first step to obtaining financial assistance for college through state and federal resources.

The FAFSA is available at www.fafsa.gov (click on "FAFSA Filing Options") on Oct. 1st and the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet is available here.

Financial aid toolkit

 Illinois Student Assistance Commission is the state government's financial aid agency. Has information on how to apply for financial aid, financial aid sources, Illinois aid programs, Higher EdNet, college cost & savings calculator, state & federal aid estimator, and loan repayment calculator. It also includes helpful information on Illinois colleges, planning for your child's future, academic preparation, and college selection and admission.

https://www.scholarships.com/

Scholarships.com has a database of over 2,000 organizations and foundations that offer scholarship, representing approximately 169,000 awards.

https://www.unigo.com/pay-for-college/student-loans/where-to-find-student-loans

eStudentLoan provides fast, interactive comparisons of student loan products from many major lenders. Their LoanFinder service is especially helpful and quick for instant loan comparison and online applications.

Important Dates

September 5th, 2018
FAFSA Information Night
View a copy of the presentation here

January 17th, 2019
Conquering College Costs

Conquering College Cost