Need advice on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? Help is right here.
Remember that the financial aid office at the college or university of your choice is there to help you find help paying for your education. Stop by or call and make an appointment to see them. They'll also likely help you fill out the FAFSA application or any other financial aid application.
1. Start Early
The paper version of the FAFSA takes 4-6 weeks to process.
Katherine Coates of the Awareness & Outreach Department at the U.S. Department of Education says, "If a student completes the paper FAFSA, they can receive their Student Aid Report (SAR) after 4-6 weeks of processing time.
"However, if they complete the FAFSA on the Web, they'll receive their SAR in 3-5 days and so will the schools listed on the FAFSA, and their home state."
You must fill out the FAFSA to be considered for any type of federal assistance, including student loans. Assistance is based on financial need. You'll need your tax statements to prove your level of income. If you didn't file taxes for last year, you'll have to prove what you live on. Be prepared.
2. Apply One of Three Ways
There are 3 ways to apply for FAFSA:
Online: Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete your application online. You'll be asked to apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to serve as your electronic signature.
In the office: If you want help with your application, take your tax statements to your school's financial aid office and ask to speak with a financial aid officer. It's a good idea to call ahead and make an appointment.
Paper: Request a paper FAFSA through your school (some will not have them), local library, or by calling 800-4-FED-AID. You can also print an app at Student Aid on the Web. Mail in for processing.
3. Know and Include Your School's Code
Every school has a code for use on the FAFSA. Know your school's code and include it on your FAFSA application.
The code tells the federal government where to send your financial aid information once your application is processed, and it tells your school what else you need so they'll know how to help you.
Financial Aid Officer LeQuita Foster at Arkansas State University Mountain Home tells students to email her office for updates.
"Pester us to death if you need to," she says.
4. Watch Your MailYour school's financial aid office may need additional information from you. They'll contact you by phone or mail to let you know. Once they have everything they need and have processed your application, they'
5. Know How Your Financial Aid Can Be Used
Know how your financial aid can be used. Most financial aid must be applied first to tuition, school fees, and books. Once those are paid for, any extra money can be spent on whatever will help you go to school: transportation, child care, utilities, tutoring, whatever.