Is there any one of you who can afford college without any financial aid? Then you are in the 1%! It only makes sense before you choose the college you’re going to this fall to find out as soon as possible what it will cost you, and you can’t know that until you find out what financial aid you might qualify for.
The first step in finding that out what the best choice of college is for you this fall is to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Here are some tips about filing your FAFSA in a timely manner to speed along your college decision and get ready to attend college in the fall of 2014.
• The first step is to get your FAFSA form. The first thing you need to have is a personal identification number (PIN), and you need to go online at pin.edu.gov to get it. Once you have your PIN, you can go to fafsa.ed.gov to obtain the form.
• It is better to fill your form out online than in paper format. The paper form only allows you to forward your information to four schools, while the online form can be forwarded to 10 schools. That’s helpful if you are as yet undecided where you will go to college. You want to know what the financial package is for several schools before you make your final choice.
• Don’t wait to file income taxes to fill out the form. You can check the “Will Fill” box on your application and estimate your income for the last year. Your parents can do the same. You can update online when the time comes with the exact information.
• Get organized. You and your parents should set aside about an hour. Get together your drivers’ licenses and your bank account statements before sitting down. And, do it as soon as possible. Once you sit down to fill out the application, you will find out what you need in addition and have time to round all that up before missing any deadlines.
• Deadlines for the FAFSA vary from state to state and school to school, but get that application in NOW. Some states and their colleges/universities award monies only on first-come-first-serve basis. Some institutions also have preferred deadlines for their more generous financial aid packages.
The early bird catches the worm is the best statement and advice for getting your FAFSA in NOW.