The federal government is the beginning step for most persons planning to attend college and is in of need of financial aid. The federal government annually provides more than $150 billion towards college financial aid for students who qualify. Everyone, even if you don’t think you need federal assistance are encouraged to apply for the federal assistance.
Fill out the FAFSA Application
The first step to getting assistance from the Federal government is to complete a document called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA as it is commonly known. This document can be completed either online or you can request a paper form by calling the Federal Student Aid Office at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). FAFSA plays a significant role in the overall student financial aid package. In most cases, the completed FAFSA will be the centerpiece of any student’s financial aid package.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
The FAFSA document will create a Student Aid Report (SAR), and will determine how much money you can expect to receive from the federal government. Monies received will be in the form of a grant called the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant are monies that have been allotted to fund the tuition costs for your education. The current maximum annual allotment is $5,550.
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Here are the items you and your parents (if applicable) will need to complete the FAFSA application:
- Social Security Number(s)
- Driver’s License (if any)
- Alien Registration or Permanent Resident Card (if not U.S. citizen)
- W-2 ta form(s) and other records of money earned
- Federal income tax returns(s) for the current tax year
- Foreign Tax Return (if any)
- Untaxed income record
- Bank statements
- Other investment records
Completing the FAFSA will put you in line to receive other federally-funded grants as well as some state-funded education grants. Some private need-based scholarship funds also require that you complete the FAFSA prior to submitting a scholarship application. The FAFSA should be completed not later than June 30th of the year you intend to start college. The official start of the FAFSA application process is January 1st.
It is strongly recommended that you complete the application early in the year. In fact, some states require that you complete the application by January 31st. You will need to check with your state’s Department of Education for deadlines.
In order to complete the FAFSA application, you (or your parents) will need your most current income tax return. The FAFSA application requests information that is part of your tax return. If you (or parents) have not filed an income tax return for the current year, you may use the information from the previous year’s return. Later, after you have filed the current year’s tax return you can reopen your FAFSA application and insert the current year’s tax information.
[alert]Please note that a FAFSA application must be file each year that you are enrolled in college. For completed and detailed information about FAFSA, you can log-on to www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov or you can call toll-free
1 (800) 433-3243. TTY users (for hearing impaired) may call 1(800) 730-8913.[/alert]