Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Correct Way to Fill Out the FAFSA

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The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a piece of literature that needs to be filled out in its entirety by each student or aspiring student for every year of intended education. The FAFSA expires on a yearly basis, even if the student’s finances and budget are exactly the same, so the proper and timely filing of this form is crucial. Many are blessed enough to have help from financial aid counselors on campus, but for those who are winging it on their own, here a few tips to get you through.

When you do an online search for the FAFSA, you will notice right away that there are literally hundreds of companies who want to charge you money for the application. You can acquire the FAFSA absolutely free of charge from the government website, and there are also free PDF files there, in both Spanish and English, that you can download to help you along. The most important thing to remember is that the forms must be filled out completely and accurately, with any questions that may not pertain to you being marked through, so that the processor understands that you have read and declined that section.
As mentioned, most campus offices are fully aware of and experienced with the FAFSA, and you will do well to allow a counselor or financial aid officer to compile the resources and application for you. All of the information on the first two sections is extremely important. Whether you are a legally emancipated minor, a legal alien, a U.S. citizen, or an adult who didn’t finish high school, the information that you enter here must be accurate and provable. If you have opted for the online application process, you might want to get all of your vital information together before you begin.

You will be asked for your full name, maiden and aliases, and your social security number or proof of your legal alien status. Your permanent address is the one at which you have resided up until the date of your application. If you are a dependent, you will need all of your guardian’s vital information as well, including their previous year tax filings. There are many options for this section of the FAFSA, and you will want to be as truthful and accurate as possible. If your parents have recently separated or divorced, for instance, you will need to list only the information about the parent with whom you have spent the most time over the past 12 months.

If you feel that you have extenuating circumstances which need to be explained thoroughly to the federal aid office, you can speak directly with a specialist through the telephone number provided on the government website. There is also a checklist of documents needed download form that can be rather helpful during the preparation phase. There are also downloadable applications, or you can request a paper copy to be delivered by mail.

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