Paying for college FAFSA Essentials: What Every Student Needs to Know

FAFSA Essentials: What Every Student Needs to Know

For Seniors preparing to apply for federal financial aid or Juniors just beginning their college search, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one form nearly every college bound student will encounter. Completing the application may require tracking down a handful of documents and other information, however, filling out the FAFSA can be quick and easy with a little preparation.

Here are some tips that school counselors may share with their college-bound students and their families to help make applying fast and less intimidating.

How and where to apply
Applying for the FAFSA is free. To get started, families can visit the FAFSA application site to learn more about the process and what they’ll need.

Start early
Even months (or a year) away from applying to colleges, families can start looking at the FAFSA application ahead of time. Gathering all of the required documents before beginning the application will help make the process easier. And since some schools have FAFSA deadlines as early as mid-February, it’s important not to wait until the last minute to apply.

Positioned for success
Getting a head start on understanding the FAFSA application may help students and their families avoid common mistakes, such as listing retirement accounts or home equity as assets, which may affect the amount of aid the student receives. Here are more ways for students to get the most from financial aid, and some common application mistakes.

Help is available
It’s important that all students and parents know they’re never on their own. In addition to any advice an Academic Advisor can provide them, there are many resources to help answer questions, such as college admissions offices and, of course, the internet. Here are some helpful sites for reference: