FAFSA Dos and Don’ts

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Heather Gammon, Editor-in-Chief

Listen up, seniors! It’s time to fill out the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA determines eligibility for federal student aid programs such as Pell Grants, Stafford loans, and federal work-study. Here are some tips to help you along.

 

Do:

  • File! After all, you can’t win if you don’t play. Even if you think you won’t qualify for grants, you will still qualify for subsidized Stafford Loans.
  • Check your  FAFSA due dates; different colleges have different deadlines. Then, write them down on a big calendar so you don’t forget.
  • Check if your colleges also require the CSS Profile. Typically, only elite private schools require this. It’s different than the FAFSA and can be completed through the CollegeBoard website.  Unlike the FAFSA, which is free, the CSS Profile costs $25 to submit for the 1st school applied to and $16 per school after that.
  • Have necessary documents on hand. This includes your Social Security Number and your parents’ most recent federal income tax returns. It might also be a good idea to keep a parent close while filing, just in case you need any help.

Don’t:

  • Procrastinate –complete the online FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. Many colleges have early deadlines for consideration of scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid; check your colleges’ websites for specific deadlines.
  • Rush through the Application. I cannot stress this enough. All the information must be correct, so take your time to complete it right. Even minor issues, like using a nickname instead of your full name, typing one wrong digit on your social security number, or mistakenly providing incorrect  financial information can seriously delay approval of your application. It could even impact the amount of funding you receive.
  • Lie. Providing false information on a federal document is a federal crime. It’s considered a form of fraud and is punishable by a fine up to $20,000, forfeiture of financial aid awards, and potential prison time. Yikes. So be honest!

Ok Mustangs, hope that helped a bit! Good luck!