Tips for Completing the FAFSA

Feb 12, 2016

Completing the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid for your college-bound child is a stressful process that can tie up your free time for weeks. But the process will be much easier if you know the information you’ll need to gather and the completion deadline in advance. Preparation will see you through!

Q: What is the FAFSA?

A: The FAFSA allows students to apply for federal student aid (grants, loans and work-study programs). Even if you think your student won’t be eligible for federal aid, you’ll want to complete it.  Colleges and universities in many states rely on the information in the FAFSA to select the recipients of their scholarships and grants.

Q: When should I complete the FAFSA?

A: The FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year became available January 1st. The federal submission deadline is typically June 30th (September 17th for any updates).  To be eligible for state-funded financial aid programs, your application must be submitted based on the state’s deadline—that’s March 10th for Indiana. To complicate matters, colleges have their own FAFSA submission deadlines. So be sure you know the submission deadlines for all institutions your student is applying to.

Q: What information do I need to complete the FAFSA?

A: To complete the FAFSA you’ll need a few key documents. Federal income tax returns, W-2s and any records of money earned by you and your dependent student must be reported on the application. Records of untaxed income such as child support or financial support received throughout the school year from grandparents or other family members must also be reported. In addition, you’ll have to report bank and investment statements and real estate values (excluding personal residence). This includes statements for any parent- or student-owned 529 college savings plans.


Q: What are the upcoming changes to the FAFSA, and when will they go into effect?

A: The good news is the upcoming changes are geared toward simplifying the FAFSA process and allowing it to coincide with the college application process, which generally begins in the fall. So, the FAFSA will become available in October rather than January. In addition to earlier availability, families will be able to download tax information from the previous year directly from the IRS. Currently families must list an estimate of income and correct it once their tax return has been officially filed. This change streamlines the FAFSA process tremendously. All changes will take effect this October.

For additional information about the FAFSA contact us at Bedel Financial or visit studentaid.ed.gov.

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