The 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available in less than 5 days — at 12:00 midnight on October 1. If you’ll need college money for an academic term beginning July 2019 through June 2020, complete your FAFSA right on October 1 . . . or as soon thereafter as possible.
Why? Some postsecondary schools quietly use your FAFSA completion date to determine where you fall in line for getting awards. Also, you’ll need extra time to prove the accuracy of your FAFSA data if it’s selected for verification. And some schools and states set early FAFSA completion deadlines.
FAFSAs are required for federal and state aid, many institutional awards, and some private scholarships, so rapid FAFSA completion gives you a better shot at aid from programs with limited funds.
Here are links to everything you need to know for your 2019-20 FAFSA:
Whose data go on the FAFSA? The student’s? Always. The student’s spouse? Yes, if still married to the student. The student’s parents? Yes, if the student’s a dependent student. Which parent if they’re divorced or separated? The U.S. Education Department (ED) has a checklist to help you figure that out.
What do you need to get a FAFSA? Any student or parent whose data goes on the FAFSA needs a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, which you can create right now on ED’s FSA ID web site.
How do you access your FAFSA? Use FAFSA on the Web to complete it from your smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. This is the easiest way to do it, because the online FAFSA skips questions you don’t need to answer. You can print out and mail in a paper FAFSA, but that’ll slow down your FAFSA’s completion.
What’s needed to complete your FAFSA? ED has guidance about the personal information you need to put on your FAFSA, plus a list of documents that’ll supply the financial data it needs. Finally, you can list 1 – 10 postsecondary schools to receive your FAFSA information so they can consider you for financial aid. Go to ED’s school listings to do this.
How do you get help understanding FAFSA questions? Online FAFSAs have blue and white question marks linked to tips for every question. Paper FAFSAs have 4 pages of notes with all these tips.
How can you avoid making mistakes? Read ED’s blog on 11 common FAFSA mistakes, then double check to make sure you’ve avoided these errors.
What’s next? To find out, read ED’s description of what happens after you submit your completed FAFSA.
So be accurate, be complete, and get your FAFSA going on October 1!
Contact College Affordability Solutions if you need help completing your FAFSA, or for other no-charge consultations on ways to make college more affordable.