Last Minute FAFSA Q & As

Hope you’re ready to do your 2017-18 FAFSA when it becomes available October 1 . . . 2016-calendar-october-free-vector-2

Q-1. May my 2017-18 FAFSA serve as my aid application for academic year 2016-17?

A-1. No. The only way the government and schools know the academic year for which you’re applying is the FAFSA you submit. The 2016-17 FAFSA is still available. If you’ve not yet done it and if your student will be enrolled before July 1, 2017, send it in. If you’re seeking aid to enroll in/after July of 2017, you’ll need to complete the 2017-18 FAFSA.

Q-2. Our finances are very complicated and our 2015 tax return isn’t yet final. May we still submit a 2017-18 FAFSA?

A-2. Yes. Complete it with estimated data. Once your 2015 tax return is final, go to FAFSA-on-the-Web and replace those estimates with actual data.

Q-3. There’s another form called the College Board Profile. Should I complete and submit it in addition to a FAFSA?

A-3. Only if a college or university to which you’re applying specifically requests it. The Profile collects additional financial information that some schools use to award their institutional aid. Unlike the FAFSA, it’s not free, so no need to use it unless a school asks for it.

no_feesQ-4. I found a FAFSA website that wants me to pay a fee to complete and submit my FAFSA. Is this OK?

A-4. No! Go to https://fafsa.ed.gov/ and submit your FAFSA directly to Washington at no charge. If you have questions, the Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-433-3243) will answer them at no cost to you. Some companies have developed fee-for-service websites to collect FAFSA data and then submit them on behalf of applicants but, remember, the first “F” in FAFSA means “Free.”

Q-5. OK. I get it. It’s in my best interests to submit my 2017-18 FAFSA as soon as possible. But when can I expect to receive 2017-18 financial aid offer(s)?

A-5. Newly admitted students won’t get offers until admitted, but those selected for early admission will likely receive them shortly before Christmas. For other new admits, aid offers will come in February or March — after institutions receive funding and guidance for the government aid programs that help their students.

Many colleges won’t make 2017-18 financial aid offers to currently enrolled students until April or May.

College Affordability Solutions can advise you on completing your FAFSA. Call (512) 366-5354 or email collegeafford@gmail.com.

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What’s Needed to Complete the FAFSA?

What do you need to do to prepare to fill out the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? Now’s the time to figure this out because, for various reasons, it’s best to complete this form, which becomes available October 1, ASAP.th1niaeztl

Hopefully you know by now whether parental as well as student data needs to go on the FAFSA. Next, make sure you have the following for each person whose data will be reported via your student’s FAFSA:

(1) FSA ID: The Federal Student Aid Identification Number (FSA ID) is the username and password you and your student can use to access government websites containing 54d94514757c4-imagepersonal, private federal financial aid data. You’ll need it to fill out and electronically sign your FAFSA on the Web — the fastest and easiest way to complete a FAFSA. If you don’t already have your FSA ID, you’ll get it about 3 days after requesting it, so apply now!

(2) Key Personal Numbers: The FAFSA needs your student’s social security and driver’s license numbers. If parental data goes on the FAFSA, you’ll also need the social security number of each parent whose data is reported. If the student and/or parent isn’t a U.S. citizen but is eligible for federal student aid, you’ll need their Alien Registration Number.

(3) 2015 Tax Information: The 2017-18 FAFSA will use 2015 federal tax return data. To have the IRS load these numbers right onto your FAFSA, complete the IRS Data Retrieval Tool link in your FAFSA on the Web. This is the most accurate, easy, rapid, and secure way to load these numbers. Otherwise, you’ll need copies of all your 2015 federal tax forms.

(4) Asset Information: The FAFSA asks for the net worth of assets — your student’s assets and, if he or she is a dependent student, the net worth of his or her parental assets. The 2017-18 FAFSA needs these values as of the date it’s completed.

(5) 2015 Untaxed Income Data: In 2015, did any untaxed income go to the student or parent(s) who’ll fill out the FAFSA? If so, gather up the documents you need to determine untaxed income amounts, because you’ll need to itemize these figures on your 2017-18 FAFSA.thru24h2vb

The 2017-18 FAFSA becomes available on the web at midnight October 1. Take these and you can fill it out in less than 30 minutes. So get ready!

Coming September 29 — “Last Minute FAFSA Q & As.”

College Affordability Solutions has the expertise needed to coach you on completing the FAFSA. Call (512) 366-5354 or email collegeafford.com for help.

Who Completes the FAFSA?

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The first issue to resolve in getting ready to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that’ll be available October 1 is to figure out who needs to put their information on it.

Of course, the FAFSA always requires the student’s data. Things get a bit complicated after that; but that’s because there are so many different family circumstances in today’s American society. Essentially, questions about who completes the FAFSA are determined by the student’s dependency upon mom and dad and by mom and dad’s marital situation and living arrangements.

Dependent Students

In general, undergraduates younger than 24 are considered “dependent” students for theuntitled purposes of student financial aid. On the 2017-18 FAFSA, any student born after 1993 is a dependent student unless that students fits one of the other conditions that define “Independent Students” (see below). Such a student’s FAFSA must include data from the student’s parent(s).

Legal Parents of Dependent Students: The FAFSA requires data about both of the student’s “legal” parents if they’re married or unmarried. A legal parent who’s widowed or who never married must list only his or her data must on the FAFSA.

What’s a legal parent? It’s the student’s adoptive parent, biological parent, or parent as defined by state law. This means no data are required for foster parents, grandparents, legal guardians, and other relatives who house and/or support a student.

Custodial Parents of Dependent Students: If the student’s parents are legally separated or divorced and not living together, data for the “custodial” parent should go on the FAFSA. This is whichever parent the student lived most during the last 12 months. If that’s a tie, the custodial parent is then the one who provided more financial support to the student during the last 12 month period in which the student received money from mom and/or dad.

If legally separated or divorced parents are living together, both their data need to go on the FAFSA. And if a divorced custodial parent gets married again, his or her new spouse is considered a stepparent. Stepparent data must also go on the FAFSA.

Same-Sex Parents: Under a recent Supreme Court decision, same sex couples legally married in a state or foreign country are considered legal parents regardless of where they now live or their student goes to college. Likewise, a new same-sex spouse who’s legally married to a divorced parent is considered a stepparent. Both same-sex parents and stepparents in legal marriages must report their data on the FAFSA.

Independent Students

Besides being born after 1993, a student reaches “independent” status, and no parental data need be on his or her FAFSA, if the student is:

  • Going to be a graduate or professional student when academic year 2017-18 begins; or
  • As of the date his or her FAFSA is submitted:wedding-young-marrieds
    • Married (in which case the spouse’s data must be put on the FAFSA with the student’s data); or
    • Someone who, from July 2017 through June 2018, will supply over half the support to his or her children, spouse, or someone else who lives with him of her; or
    • On active duty with the U.S. armed forces (including national guard and reserve enlistees) for purposes other than training; or
    • A veteran of the U.S. armed forces.

Under certain conditions, the FAFSA also treats a student as independent if he or she is a dependent or ward of the court, in foster care, an emancipated minor, under a legal guardianship, a homeless unaccompanied youth, or a self-supporting youth at risk of being homeless.

The Federal Student Aid Information Center is open 7 days a week to help you if you have questions related to the 2017-18 FAFSA.

Coming September 22 – “What’s Needed to Complete the FAFSA?”

College Affordability Solutions can also help you with FAFSA questions. Call (512) 366-5354 or email collegeafford@gmail.com if you need help.

Get Ready! It’s Almost Time to Do Your FAFSA!

School has just begun for 2016-17 but, if you have a student who’ll be enrolled after June 30, 2017, it’s time to get ready to complete and submit your 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The 2017-18 FAFSA becomes available OCTOBER 1. That’s a big change from the past, when parents and students couldn’t access it until January 1. Nevertheless, you should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible on or after October 1 for three reasons:

(1)  Some colleges use FAFSA submission dates to determine the order in which they award their grants and scholarships. Institutional funds are limited, so the longer you wait to submit your FAFSA, the less likely you may be to get such awards.

(2)  Many colleges will also begin auditing FAFSA data this fall, so you’ll give yourself more time to supply them with the documents they need to resolve apparent errors or discrepancies on your FAFSA.

(3)  Sometimes the data you report on your FAFSA doesn’t fully capture your family’s unique financial circumstances, especially if things outside it’s control (e.g. lost jobs or wages, costly uninsured medical bills) have undermined your family’s capacity to pay college-related expenses. You can find out what your financial aid office needs to take these “special circumstances” into account, then have lot’s of time to follow-up before 2017-18 financial aid is awarded.

More than $190 billion a year in financial aid goes to families who do the FAFSA. It collects data on each student’s family and family finances. These numbers help determine what your student may receive in federal grants, loans, and work-study. Many colleges, private scholarship providers, and states also use FAFSA information to award their financial aid.

You can get a rough estimate of the federal financial aid for which you’ll qualify by using the government’s FAFSA Forecaster. It takes less than 20 minutes to complete, it’s confidential, and it’s free.

Not sure where your student is going to college yet? Don’t worry. You can use the FAFSA to apply for financial aid from up to 10 different institutions.

Note: Look here for additional FAFSA guidance every Thursday between now and October 1 — “Who Completes the FAFSA?” on September 15, “What’s Needed to Complete the FAFSA?” on September 22, and “Last Minute FAFSA Q & As” on September 29.

College Affordability Solutions offers you 40 years of financial aid experience as a parent, professional, and student. Need some FAFSA help? Call (512) 366-5354 or email collegeafford@gmail.com.

Beware of the”Student Tax” Scam!

Warning! Scammers are calling college students and their parents pretending to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They’re demanding payment toward what they call a “student tax!” The thing is, there’s no such tax and that’s not the IRS calling. So don’t give them and penny and don’t share any information with them!

Beside the reference to a nonexistent tax, how can you tell it’s a scam? Remember, the IRS never calls to demand the immediate payment of taxes owed, and it never requires payment by one particular method — not by credit card, not by debit card, not by gift card, and not by wire transfer! If the party on the other end of the line does any of this, you’re dealing with a dirt ball who’s trying to swindle you.

Some of these calls may be robocalls, and sometimes they come as voice mails. Often the scammers use “spoofing” technology so the number on your caller ID looks like it’s coming from the IRS. It’s not!

By the way, federal education loan borrowers are also getting calls demanding immediate payment on their debts by credit card, debit card, etc. These, too, are con games. If you’re not sure, get the name and phone number of the company that’s supposedly calling you, and then find “NSLDS for Students” on the web to confirm the name and number of the company Washington actually hired to manage the loans it made to you.

If some crook tries to swindle you about any of this, call the U.S. Department of the Treasury Inspector General’s office at 1-800-366-4484 right away to report it! You could also call the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General’s Hotline at 1-800-647-8733. Above all, don’t become one of the more than 8,000 Americans who’ve lost over $44 million in the last three years to these rip-offs!

There’s a special place in hell awaiting the scumbags who try to scam money from honest people. But if you’re a college parent or student, the best thing you can do for now is to make sure these slime buckets don’t make off with your money or your information. Instead, tell them to stick it, hang up, and call the Inspector General!

College Affordability Solutions wants to help you keep your money for college safe. Suspicious about a call you’ve received? Call (512) 366-5354 or email collegeafford@gmail.com for help.