If you’ll have a student in college between July 2018 and June 2019, apply for financial aid on October 1 or as soon thereafter as possible. That’s when the 2018-19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) first becomes available to you on the government’s secure FAFSA website.
Why hurry? Regardless of institutional FAFSA deadlines, some schools quietly use FAFSA submission dates to determine the order in which they award institutional grants and scholarships, so those submitting FAFSAs early may have a better shot at these limited funds. Also, if your FAFSA data are selected for verification, early submission gives you more time to gather and supply documents you need.
No worries if your student doesn’t yet know where she’ll attend college next year. She can direct her FAFSA to 10 different institutions, and more later if needed.
The 2018-19 FAFSA needs 2016 federal 1040 data. The easiest, most accurate way to get this is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). For 2018-19, there’ll be an opportunity to do this in the FAFSA’s student and parent Financial Information sections.
If you previously submitted a FAFSA but your student qualified for nothing but federal loans, why submit again? Two reasons. First, even small changes in your family and financial situations can impact eligibility for need-based grants, scholarships, and part-time work study jobs. Second, your student won’t re-qualify for past loan awards without a new FAFSA.
There are online answers to various FAFSA questions you may have including, but not limited to:
- Who completes the FAFSA?
- What documents are needed to get FAFSA data?
- After submitting our FAFSA, what’s next?
- What if we submitted the FAFSA with an error?
All colleges require the FAFSA, but some may require other forms to apply for state or institutional aid. Check on this with the financial aid office wherever your student may attend.
Two final notes:
- If you don’t yet have an FSA ID, you’ll need it to do the FAFSA. Establish it at FAFSA.ed.gov.
- Be sure to do your FAFSA at FAFSA.ed.gov. Otherwise, you may get scammed into paying a fee to submit this free form.
Hard to believe it’s already time to apply for next year’s financial aid, isn’t it? But remember, the early bird gets the worm . . . and better yet, the financial aid!
College Affordability Solutions brings 40 years experience to advising families on issues related to financial aid. Got questions? Call (512) 366-5354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-fee consultation.