How to Ace the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a tool that students use to apply for more than $120 billion in federal funds. Unfortunately, each year many students miss out.

Even if you don’t think you or your child qualify for federal aid, filling out a FAFSA is important because it could be used to determine eligibility for nonfederal aid and private funds.

FAFSA available October 1, 2017

Previously, the FAFSA was unavailable until January. A recent change makes the application available October 1, 2017. That’s because the 2018-19 FAFSA can be completed with your 2016 tax info.

Avoid FAFSA mistakes

Don’t forgo federal student aid by making one of the following common filing mistakes:

Mistake:

Not reading the instructions or questions

Tip:

Answer all questions – even if the answer is zero. If left blank, the question will be considered unanswered. Check the FAFSA website if you are unsure of definitions of key FAFSA terms.

Mistake:

Incorrect, incomplete or non-matching data

Tip:

Complete the FAFSA online. It takes only 3-5 days to process when submitted electronically. The online version has built-in safeguards that identify and prevent many errors.

Mistake:

Not filing on time

Tip:

Get the application submitted ASAP. The sooner you or your child gets started, the higher the likelihood of being awarded funds since many are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Remember, students need to complete a FAFSA each year because eligibility does not carry over and can vary based on circumstances.