TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME FAFSA APPLICANTS
There is no longer a reason to suffer pre-fafsa online anxiety. The pop-ups and clarifications provided for first-time users seem to anticipate every possibility for confusion. Keep in mind that the FAFSA can be completed in pieces. Simply continue until the frustration level hits you red zone, then click “save and exit” and return in hours or days when you are ready for more. You simply re-enter the student name, social security number, birthday and the student password which has been saved (written down in an accessible place) from the first student login. Here are a few more tips:
- The FAFSA is not a tax form. The IRS is not part of the FASA process. Unlike a tax form, the FAFSA allows families and students to use estimated when originally submitting it. This allows families to submit the FAFSA at the earliest allowable date. The opportunity to provide exact financial date is available later in the process. Most colleges eventually request a copy of the completed tax return in March or April to verify exact data.
- Generally speaking, the best opportunities for financial aid are most available for students who submit the online FAFSA during January.
- Be sure to print a copy of the Confirmation Page following online submission of the FAFSA. It will contain the Confirmation Number, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which colleges will use in awarding financial aid packages, and the Date Release Number (DRN) which can be given to colleges if, for some reason, they need immediate access to your updated information.
- After submitting an online FAFSA, applicants receive an email and link to access the Student Aid Report (SAR) which basically repeats the FAFSA data provided, as entered into the federal FAFSA database. It is important to check the SAR for any errors and, if estimates were used for first submission, to make necessary corrections or additions as more exact 2013 figures becomes available. In this case, the updated SAR is then re-submitted to the federal processor which again sends it on to the listed schools. The FAFSA allows space for the listing of 10 schools. For more schools, the SAR will require the additional step of deleting certain schools, adding more and then resubmitting.