For me, and probably many other students applying to college, figuring out financial aid was the hardest part of college application season. Writing essays, prepping for interviews; all of that was stuff I knew how to do. What I didn’t know how to do, however, was apply for financial aid, which included completing the seemingly complicated FAFSA.The FAFSA application is the universal form used by colleges in determining federal financial aid. According to U.S. News, the U.S. Department of Education grants over $115 billion in federal grants, work-study programs, and loans. So, if you’re looking for any type of federal, state, or college aid, there’s no way around completing the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you qualify for aid, I always recommend filling it out anyway. The majority of people who complete the FAFSA get some type of aid, regardless of their financial status. Additionally, some colleges use the FAFSA for merit scholarships as well, so there’s no harm in completing it!For any upcoming school year, the form will open October 1st and the FAFSA deadline is around June 30th of the following year. However, I strongly recommend completing it as soon as possible because colleges typically have earlier deadlines. When I was applying to colleges, most of my financial aid deadlines were usually in November for the early application round and February-March for the regular decision round.If you’re a dependent student, you’ll be using not only your financial information but also your parent or guardians’. A dependent student is defined as being younger than 24 years of age by the end of the year you’re applying for, a student in an associate or bachelor’s program, or unmarried with no dependents of your own. Independent students will use their information and their spouse’s if they have one. Here are some of the forms/information you’ll need to fill it out: • Social security number • Tax information for the tax cycle two years prior to the academic year • W-2 forms and other records of income • Records of untaxed income • Savings and checking balances • The value of any assets
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