completing the free application for federal student aid (fafsa) can be overwhelming. howerver, there are some key things to know when completing the fafsa.
first, this the form that the federal government, states, colleges, and other organizations use to award financial aid. submitting this form is your key to accessing grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans.
importantly, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for pell grant due to income limitations, complete the form anyway. this form is used to determine eligibility for other merit-based grants beyond a federal level. you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by filing a fafsa.
remember, states and colleges have deadlines for grants and merit awards based on the information provided. the sooner the fafsa is completed the better it is for aid opportunities.
things to know about the 2020-2021 fafsa
1. questions have changed
if you’ve filed a fafsa previously, you’ll notice a few question changes. the reason for the update is because the irs has removed forms 1040a and 1040ez. you won’t see responses or information regarding the 1040a or 1040z on the fafsa.
2. apply for a fsa id – even before you complete the fafsa
parents and students need a fsa id. the fsa id allows parents and students to log in separately and pull important tax information. in addition, you cannot apply for a fsa id on behalf of someone else. keep this id safe, you and your parent will need it year after year.
3. to complete the fafsa, you’ll need:
- social security number
- driver’s license (if applicable)
- tax returns and w2s from the prior-prior year. in this case, from the year 2018. however, you can use the irs data retrieval tool to import tax information for accuracy and saving time.
- records of untaxed income
- records of assets
remember, if the income has changed dramatically from 2018, contact the college or university you’ve been accepted to and document the changes in income.
4. there’s an app
there’s an app called “mystudentaid”. in the app, students can fill out the fafsa here as well as get push notifications on updates and deadlines. the app is fairly new, but the form is shared between both the app and the website so you can start on one then finish on the other!
5. begin early
although the deadline isn’t until later, it is encouraged to complete the form early. by filing a fafsa earlier, you open opportunities for more grant money. also, if you complete the form early you lessen your chances of missing state and college deadlines for merit awards based on fafsa information.
6. after the submission
once submitted, you will receive a sar to the email address you provided. the sar contains information regarding the federal aid eligibility and calculated efc (expected family contribution). in addition, you can find the sar on the “mystudentaid” app.
these are just a few things to know about completing the fafsa, but you’re ready to begin if you’re planning to attend college during the 2020-2021 school year. if you have questions, please contact the financial aid department at boise bible college.
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