FAFSA, US student financial aid program

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) begins receiving applications for the 2023-2024 school year on October 1. If you plan to go to college next year, you might want to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Many institutions offer financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, recommends students apply as soon as possible.

“It’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible,” McCarthy said. “Once they’ve spent all the money, it’s the whole budget for the year.”

Whether you’re applying for the first time or the fifth time, here’s what you need to know about applying for college financial aid.

How does the FAFSA work?

The FAFSA is a free government application that uses financial information about you and your family to determine if you can get federal government financial assistance to pay for your education.

The FAFSA will send your financial information to the schools you plan to attend and those you list on the application. You can list up to 10 schools. Each institution that accepts you will send you a financial aid file. The amount you receive depends on the school you attend.

This application is also used to determine your eligibility for other federal financial aid programs, such as work-study and loans, as well as financial aid from your state and university. Sometimes private college scholarships also require information from your FAFSA to determine if you qualify for certain financial aid.

“Filling out the FAFSA is probably the single best thing you can do to get scholarships and other financial aid for college,” said Rick Castellanos, vice president of corporate communications at Sally May.

Nitro College, a website that provides guidance for students, has a guide that lists all application questions.

Who should complete the application?

All students planning to go to college next year. Many people may decide not to apply because their family income is too high to receive financial assistance. However, McCarthy recommends that all students apply.

“There’s no commitment and no cost,” McCarthy said. “See what happens, you might be surprised. And if not, you already have the request, if you change your mind.

Students and parents can use the Federal Financial Aid Calculator to calculate their estimated financial aid amount.

How do I complete the application?

The first step is to create an FSA ID, so you can access your account electronically. If you are a dependent student, your parents will also need to create an account.

Before starting your application, McCarthy recommends that you use your permanent email, the one that is “always available to you and that you check regularly”.

Here are some of the documents you will need to complete the FAFSA application:

-Social Security number.

Driver’s license number, if you have one.

—Alien registration number (if you are not a US citizen).

— Tax returns, W-2 forms and other documents showing your income.

—Your bank details and documentation of your investments.

—non-taxable income document

The app offers the ability to enter your tax information with the IRS Data Retrieval and Retrieval Tool.

McCarthy recommends that students have their Social Security card with them when filling out applications, not only to make sure they have the correct number, but also to verify the official name.

“It’s very easy to stay out of trouble,” McCarthy said. He said some students use their middle name in everyday life and make the mistake of putting their first name on the application. If such an error occurs, it must be resolved in the application.

When should I complete the FAFSA for the 2023-2024 cycle?

It is important to know the deadline so as not to miss out on possible financial assistance. In addition to the federal deadline, students should find out if their state also has a deadline for receiving state financial aid.

The FAFSA application for the 2023-2024 school year opens on October 1 and the deadline to complete it is June 30, 2024.

Each state has a different time frame for receiving financial assistance. For example, the deadline is March 2, 2023 in California and May 15, 2023 in Florida.

You can see the deadline for your state here.

Should I renew my FAFSA?

The FAFSA must be completed each year you attend college. However, the process usually gets easier once you’ve done it once.

“I feel so strong every year,” said Haley Campbell Garcia, 28, who first applied in 2013 and has applied to college and graduate school every year.

When you renew your application, some information will be pre-populated while other information, such as your taxes, will need to be updated.

What information do I need from my parents for the FAFSA?

If you are applying as a dependent student, you will need financial information from at least one of your parents. If you list both, the first thing you need to know is how they file their taxes: together or separately, and their marital status, McCarthy said.

“As obvious as it may seem, sometimes people don’t know if their parents separated or are divorced,” McCarthy said. You can find your parents’ official marital status on their tax return.

Your parents will also need to create their own FSA ID. When your relative completes their portion of the application, they will be able to file their tax return manually or by using the IRS Data Retrieval and Retrieval Tool.

Parents need these documents to complete the FAFSA:

—Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number (if not a US citizen).

Federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, and other documents showing your income.

If the student is applying for the 2023-2024 school year, parents must access their 2021 tax return.

If you have questions about your financial information, you can call the Federal Financial Aid Office at 1-800-433-3243.

What if my parents are not US citizens?

Your parents’ residence does not affect your eligibility for financial assistance. The application does not require the legal status of your parents.

If your parent does not have a Social Security number, the student must enter a zero on this portion of the application. Additionally, parents who do not have a Social Security number are not required to create an FSA ID, but they will need to physically sign the application. Students will be able to print this part of the application, it must be signed by the parent and then it must be sent to the financial aid office to process the application.

For more information on how to complete the FAFSA when your parents are not citizens, you can visit studentaid.gov.

How can I tell my parents about the FAFSA when they don’t know about it?

Whether you’re the first generation in your family to go to college or your parents are immigrants, the FAFSA can be difficult to explain.

The way 25-year-old Orlando resident Jessica Sansaran approached the issue with her parents was to read her FAFSA guide to her parents and communicate her frustrations with the process.

“I told him ‘It’s hard for me too’,” said Sansaran, whose parents are from Guyana.

Anastasia Akerno, 21, also had to tell her parents about the process and that’s how it was resolved.

“I would ask my parents for their tax returns, wait for them to find them, and then ask them directly, instead of filing the application with me,” said Acero, a graduate of the University of Albany.

What if my financial situation has changed since 2021?

If your financial situation or that of your family has changed drastically, you will need to contact the school you plan to attend. Each college handles particular situations differently, McCarthy said.

When will I receive my financial aid file?

According to the Federal Office for Financial Aid website, it takes three to five days for an application to be processed. However, the date on which you will receive the aid depends on each school. Students usually receive their horoscopes shortly after receiving their offers of admission.

What if I made a mistake on my FAFSA?

If you made a mistake when completing your application, you will need to correct the form. You can make corrections by accessing the app, navigating to the page titled “My FAFSA” and then selecting “Make Correction”.

In some cases, if changes cannot be made through the FAFSA portal, students will need to contact their school’s financial aid office.

What happens if my financial aid is not enough to pay my university fees?

If your financial aid offer isn’t enough to cover all college tuition, there are several options.

Researching the student grants or loans you qualify for is a good second step. There are two types of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans generally offer lower interest rates than private student loans.

Where can I get more help completing the FAFSA?

Most information about the FAFSA can be found on the studentaid.gov website, but if you have specific questions, you can contact the financial aid office of the college you plan to attend.

Your school’s financial aid office can help you with basic questions and help you understand the amount paid.

For example, Yvette Solano asked for support from a Spanish-speaking person during a visit to her school’s financial aid office.

Solano, 25, who attended San Diego City College this summer and graduated from Cal State, Los Angeles, said, “I tried asking questions to feel more comfortable and to really understand the information sent to me. did it. “You don’t have to be ashamed to ask for help.”

McCarthy also recommends students research educational organizations in their city that offer free application support.

Students or parents can also call, email, or chat live with the Federal Student Financial Aid Information Center.

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