Annual FAFSA filing availability is now
If you have a child in college or entering college during the next school year, you need to read this. The time to apply for federal financial aid is now.
The new application timeframe
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available for the 2017 – 2018 school year. The FAFSA application process opened on October 1st. This is a major departure from prior years when the new application was made available three months later, on January 1st.
The time to file is now
The earlier you file your application, the earlier you will receive aid packages from most participating schools. The application is used to receive grants, federal loans, and work study awards. Here are some hints to make sure the application process works in your favor.
Create your signature PINs. If you have not already done so, both the student and parent will need to set up an electronic signature within the FAFSA system. You cannot submit the FAFSA form without this.
File the FAFSA early! As soon as possible, fill out and submit your FAFSA. Your current and prospective college student will start to see reminders to communicate this filing date change. Filing early maximizes your chances of receiving aid. It also minimizes your chances of missing an unknown application deadline.
Getting tax records is now easier. With this earlier timing, you can now use last year’s (2015) tax information when filling out the application. There are IRS tax return data retrieval tools within the online application to automate this process.
Let your advisor know. If you have a child ready to attend college, stay in touch with your financial advisor. Managing your assets to present a good financial picture starts before your student’s junior year in high school.
Collect needed information. To fill out a FAFSA you will need the following;
- Student and parent Social Security Numbers
- Driver’s license
- Federal tax information for the student and parent
- Record of any untaxed income (excluding retirement account balances)
- Balances of the following
- Cash, savings and checking accounts
- Investment asset balances
- Other assets
- FAFSA PIN
Filling out the form can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, but with proper preparation you can get your form done in quick order.