Financial Aid

Quick Tips for Filing Your FAFSA

The Fastweb Team

September 23, 2020

Quick Tips for Filing Your FAFSA
Keep these expert financial aid tips in mind and you shouldn't have any problems filling out your FAFSA.
When you're a current or prospective college student, being awarded and actually getting financial aid is a beautiful thing. Applying for financial aid, however, can be a completely different experience for both high school students and college students. Every student wants "free money." Between financial aid and scholarships, there is plenty of it to go around. You just need to put in the effort and apply for it. Which brings us to our next point: It's almost the FAFSA deadline -- June 30 -- have you filled out your FAFSA yet? The 2020–21 FAFSA form has arrived. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA. Filling out your FAFSA, can be tricky at first glance. But, with the assistance in the form of expert financial aid tips and tricks, those seemingly complicated financial aid forms can be simplified.
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Identify Yourself

• Use your legal name as it appears on your Social Security card. Nicknames or aliases will cause a processing delay.
• Read the questions carefully. The words "you" and "your" on the FAFSA always refer to the student, not the parents.
• To be considered a veteran, you must have served on active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If your service was only for training purposes (e.g. National Guard or Reserves, or ROTC), you are not considered a veteran for your federal financial aid application.
• Remember to count yourself, the student, as one of the people in your household who will be a college student during the award year.

Your Parents and the FAFSA

• If your parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months is the parent responsible for filling out the FAFSA. This is not necessarily the parent who has legal custody.
• If the parent responsible for completing the FAFSA has remarried, the new spouse must report their income and assets on the FAFSA. Prenuptial agreements have no bearing on this requirement.

Your Dependents

• A legal dependent is a person for whom you provide and will continue to provide more than half of their support. Support includes money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothing, automobile, medical and dental care, and payment of college costs. If you have a child who is supported by your parents or someone else, you should answer "no" to the question that asks about legal dependents other than a spouse.
• If you have an unborn child who will be born before or during the award year (July 1 through June 30) and will be your legal dependent, that child should be counted as a member of the household.

Given the Option

• In the question that asks about your interest in different types of aid (e.g. work-study and student loans), answer "yes" to each question. Answering "yes" does not obligate you to accept a loan or work-study position, nor does it guarantee you'll be offered either. Answering "no" to these questions will not get you more grant aid.
• Even if you qualify for the simplified needs test, you should still complete the asset information section of the FAFSA. Some states and schools use this information for computing their own financial aid awards.
• By submitting the FAFSA, you give permission to release your information to the state aid agency. You cannot apply for financial aid without releasing this information.

What Counts as Income?

• The Earned Income Credit is considered "untaxed income" on the FAFSA. Other types of untaxed income include retirement plan contributions made during the year and military food and housing allowances.
• Taxable earnings from work-study jobs as well as any grant or scholarship monies that were reported on your income tax return are counted.
• Prepaid tuition plans should be reported as assets on the FAFSA.

Before You Submit Your FAFSA

• Whether filing online or off, sign the form (you'll use your PIN online) and get all the other required signatures. If you don't sign the form, you will receive an SAR, but you will not receive aid.
• Do not include anything with the form when you mail it; any enclosures will be destroyed. Likewise, do not write comments or notes in the margins of the form. If there are unusual family financial circumstances, you should contact the school's financial aid administrator to ask for a professional judgment review.
• Make a copy of the form before mailing it. You can print out your online FAFSA before you submit the application. • Submit the form on time (the earlier the better). Remember, states and schools often have limited funding, so the sooner you apply, the better your chances of being granted financial aid assistance. Begin your application on the FAFSA homepage or download the myStudentAid app for iOS and Android. If you don't understand a question or are having trouble filling out the form, you can always call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
Need more FAFSA help? Check out some of our FAFSA article topics below: • FAFSA Checklist
What’s the FAFSA? And Why You Should Care
Why Should I Complete the FAFSA?
Financial Aid On-to-Go! FAFSA: Now on Mobile
Find everything you need to help you file your FAFSA or other financial aid forms here on Fastweb.

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