It’s time to fill out your FAFSA! I asked Karita Waters, Lipscomb Admissions’ resident financial aid expert, to share a few helpful tips with you, and I hope you’ll take a few minute to read her great advice – it could make a huge difference in how you finance your education!:
The best time for you to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is during January or February prior to your fall enrollment. Students who file by the priority deadline of March 1st will receive the most generous financial aid packages. Students may still apply after the deadline but some funds may no longer be available. So get your taxes done early so you can file your FAFSA on time.
Remember that the first word in FAFSA is Free! Never pay anyone to complete the FAFSA for you—there is absolutely no financial advantage for you in doing so. Go to the official site, www.fafsa.ed.gov, and carefully follow all instructions. DO NOT leave anything blank and, most importantly, don’t forget to sign it with your PIN numbers. Since this is an official federal document that is submitted electronically, you and a parent must sign with a PIN number. Don’t have your PIN number, yet? Go to www.pin.ed.gov and apply (one for you and one for a parent).
What will you need to fill out the form:
- Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
- Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
- Your driver’s license number if you have one
- Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you and for your parents if you are a dependent student (if you have already filed, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool may be used):
- IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, or
- Foreign tax return
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
If you need help filling out the FAFSA, use these free tools:
- Read the “Hints and Help” located on the right side of any FAFSA on the Web entry page (the hints change depending on what question you’re on)
- Click “Need Help?” at the bottom of any FAFSA on the Web entry page (in other words, any page where you’re entering information into the application)
- Chat (in English or Spanish) with live technical support staff by clicking the “Contact Us” icon
- Contact your Admissions Counselor
If you know where you want to go to college, be sure to list that institution as your Number 1 school choice on the FAFSA and within a couple of weeks both you and your future university will have access to your results. Most schools will start sending out their financial aid award letters in March. If you want to be one of the first to get a letter, FILE YOUR FAFSA EARLY!