No one likes a government form. They are long, confusing, and filled with jargon that most of us don’t ever use. But burying your head in the sand will make filing so much more stressful. This year, tackle your FAFSA head on with these 12 tips and tricks.
1. Get your taxes done as early as you can so you can file your form early too!
There’s nothing worse than the extra pressure of a looming deadline, and most of the information you need for the FAFSA will be with your tax return. If you can’t get in to see an accountant for taxes, at least estimate so you can file your FAFSA early.
2. Gather all the documents you need before you start.
- Social security card
- Driver’s license
- Passport or registration number (for non US citizens)
- Your latest bank statement
- Your income tax including your W2
- A federal student aid pin
- Any other untaxed income or investments
3. Fill out the FAFSA online.
This way, the alert system will let you know if you’ve missed a field or filled one out incorrectly.
4. If you think you make too much to qualify, fill out the FAFSA anyway.
Did you know that when assessing your financial aid form, they don’t use your house, your retirement fund, life insurance policy, or car as assets?
5. Write a letter to attach to your document if your financial situation is unique.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fill out the form completely (you should!), but sometimes those little boxes don’t have room for your unique set of circumstances.
6. If you have a lot of savings, prepay your bills before you file.
Savings is looked at on your application, so if you have bills you can prepay (like rent, insurance, etc.) or if you have to buy a car, do it ahead of time.
7. Don’t leave anything blank.
Either enter a 0 if it’s asking for a numerical value, or write “not applicable”.
8. Students who are also parents can count their children as dependents.
As long as you provide at least 50% of their financial support, you can add them as a dependent, including an unborn child.
9. Print out the form and save a copy for yourself before you submit it.
If there are any issues with your application, you’ll have something to refer back to.
10. There is a phone number you can call if you’re confused.
11. Understand the difference between a loan, a workstudy, scholarship, and a grant when your package arrives.
- Loan – Must be paid back with interest, and may or may not be deferred (deferred is a fancy term for saying you don’t have to pay until you’re done with school)
- Workstudy – This is a guaranteed job placement on campus where you work and the money goes to paying down your tuition
- Scholarship – These are financial discounts or gifts based on merit and you will have to maintain a certain GPA in order to keep receiving it (they do not have to be paid back)
- Grant – Students who qualify for a grant meet some life circumstance that makes available funds for you to use, WITHOUT having to pay it back
12. Get a free guide here or attend a College Goal workshop where you can sit with an advisor and get help specific to you!
MxCC is hosting a College Goal Workshop this Sunday at our Meriden campus and if you are a:
- High school senior
- Parent or guardian of a high school senior
- College student
- Parent of college students
You should come get in-depth help with your form. The best part is, you don’t even have to be enrolling in MxCC to take advantage of this opportunity. So no more tears and fear, the FAFSA is gonna eat your dust.