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5 Tips and Tricks to Finish, Renew Your FAFSA

Clever brain tricks work!

Shawna Newman

February 23, 2021

Use these five, practical tips as resources and inspiration to complete or renew your FAFSA.
5 Tips and Tricks to Finish, Renew Your FAFSA
High school seniors are nearing crunch time: High school graduation is close, and seniors must complete a big step before they begin their freshman year of college—submitting the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Seniors have just a few months left to complete and submit their FAFSA to get the financial aid you need to pay for college this fall. Trust us, your financial aid award packages will be much better if they include your FAFSA data. Even if you’re not sure about attending college in August, you should still submit your FAFSA! Approximately $150 billon in financial aid is given by the government EACH year. The Class of 2021 was recently polled via Fastweb’s Instagram account. 24 percent of high school seniors claimed they have not completed the FAFSA (or don’t know what it is).

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Current college students are also in a similar crunch as they work to renew their 2021-22 FAFSA. You can find the 2021-22 state FAFSA deadlines here. Below are five practical ways to help you reach your goal - check filling out your FAFSA or renewing your application off your to-do list:
  1. Schedule time on your calendar.

  2. Achieve your goals through time management. Make it a thing; don’t just pencil-it in. Work with your parents to find dates that work for both of you. They’re an important component to this financial aid piece. Tax returns and expected family contribution information are part of the financial aid application process.

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    You’ll also want to schedule a day at least a week prior to your “scheduled FAFSA completion date” to gather the materials you’ll need. There are several documents you must have access to in order to get your FAFSA submitted. If you’re an independent student, you’ll need to gather financial information (and in some cases proof of independent status) to renew your FAFSA. You can find out what you need with a FAFSA checklist. Breaking projects into simple steps will help you feel less stressed. As you complete your tasks, the small wins will make challenging goals feel more doable. Try displaying these dates on a wall calendar as well. This way everyone can see what needs to happen and when at a glance.

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  3. Do some quick prep work.

  4. Contact the colleges that you plan on applying to. Many colleges host FAFSA workshops. Their financial aid departments want you to complete your FAFSA, as they know you’re likely to earn financial aid to help you pay for attending college there. Seniors, can also ask their high school counselor if they have FAFSA tips or can provide resources, like local FAFSA workshops that are happening in the area. College students should visit or contact their financial aid office to see if their school is holding FAFSA renewal workshops and to ask what additional information the college may require.
  5. Plan to reward yourself.

  6. Pick a special gift or reward that will help to motivate you. This a clever brain trick, and it works! Whether that’s buying the latest Xbox game, subscribing to that foodie subscription box you’ve been eyeing, or simply binge watching your favorite TV show, rewarding yourself is a sneaky way to inspire yourself and stay motivated.
  7. Hold yourself accountable.

  8. Share your plans to complete your FAFSA with your high school counselor, friends and parents. Let them know the date you’ve set to submit your FAFSA. No one likes to disappoint their friends or mentors—sharing your plans is a stealth way to set yourself up for success.
  9. Prepare a pleasant workspace.

  10. Make the place you plan to complete your FAFSA an enjoyable environment. Simple additions to your workspace can fuel your motivation and inspire you to get important tasks, like the FAFSA, done. Consider playing classical music in the background. Ensure your brain is fueled to conquer; have some snacks or dark chocolate handy for you and your parents/guardians to share.

    How Can We Help?

    Our goal is to make it easier for you to pay for school, and the FAFSA is one of the first steps in this process. Let us know if there are any tools or resources you could use to help you with your FAFSA by commenting on this article. We’re happy to help!

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