Each year there are billions of dollars in federal financial aid available from the U.S. Department of Education in the form of grants, loans and work-study funds. Current college or prospective students that fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1 and June 30 can be selected as recipients of aid. And since much of the aid is first-come, first-served, the closer to the October 1 launch date students apply the greater the chance they have of getting some extra cash for college.
The requirements necessary to apply for most types of aid are that the applicant is a US citizen (or an eligible noncitizen), has received a high school diploma or GED certificate and is enrolled or accepted in an eligible degree or certificate program. Here are a few tips that an applicant filling out the FSFSA should know:
Apply early. The earlier you apply, the greater your chances are of receiving aid and the greater the amount you’re likely to receive.
Apply electronically. You can certainly print off the application and do it by hand, but applying online or using the myStudentAid mobile app is easier and gets processed much faster. The online method also allows you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer all the necessary IRS information straight to your application, which reduces errors and simplifies the process.
Be prepared. The application process is lengthy and must be done meticulously. Be prepared ahead of time by having all necessary documents and information on-hand.
Avoid errors. Take your time. Making mistakes on the application can delay or nullify it. Don’t leave too many blank answers and always triple check your social security and driver’s license numbers. You can also access the application’s help section for more tips.
Any students that are unsure of whether they might qualify for aid should contact the college counselor at their current high school or the financial aid offices at the colleges they’re interested in for assistance. Or they can estimate their eligibility by inputting some basic information into the program’s FSFSA4caster tool.
Feel free to forward this information to any soon-to-be or current college students you may know.
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