The FAFSA and Other Financial Aid Applications

graduation23sThe FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it’s a very important part of your preparation for college. This is the form that needs to be filled out before you can qualify for any federal or state student aid. Not only does it need to be filled out, it needs to be filled out correctly.

The financial aid information provided on the form will automatically be sent to the school(s) listed on the FAFSA and to KHEAA.

The best way to obtain and file the FAFSA is online. You can use your library, high school, or home computer to apply for federal student aid via FAFSA on the Web (an interactive Web page).

You can complete a FAFSA online and send your data over the Internet at www.fafsa.ed.gov. A brochure titled FAFSA on the Web is available from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) by calling (800) 4FED-AID ([800] 433-3243).

The computer you use must have one of the following browsers: Netscape Navigator 4.76 or higher, MS Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, or AOL 5.0 or higher. If you have any questions about FAFSA on the Web, call (800) 4FED-AID.

You are less likely to make errors filing electronically because your answers are edited automatically. Also, you will receive your report 7 to 14 days faster than you will with a paper FAFSA.

The paper FAFSA is available from high school counselors, college financial aid offices, or by calling the USDE toll free at (800) 4FED-AID ([800] 433-3243). You can also receive a paper FAFSA from KHEAA by calling (800) 928-8926.

If you want to be notified when your application is received, fill out the postcard contained in the FAFSA packet and enclose in the return envelope with your application. When the application is received, the FAFSA processor will stamp the card with the receipt date and location and mail it back to you.

The school’s financial aid office will use this information to determine whether you’re eligible for need-based financial aid and, if so, for how much and what type. From this information, the school will create a financial aid package for you. Each college you list on the FAFSA will consider you for financial aid and will notify you of its decision in late spring or early summer.

Gather documents you will need to refer to in completing the FAFSA. These include the following:

Your Social Security card and driver’s license.
Your W-2 forms and federal income tax return.
Your parents’ W-2 forms and federal income tax return if you are dependent.
Records of other untaxed income received such as Social Security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or veteran’s benefits.
Current bank statements and records of stocks, bonds, or other investments.
Business or farm records if applicable.
Your alien registration card if you are not a U.S. citizen.
A blank diskette if you are applying via FAFSA on the Web. You will need it to save your data.
Don’t forget to:

Read and follow the FAFSA instructions carefully.
Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 of your senior year (when the family has its federal income tax preparation data) to make sure you have the best chance of receiving aid for which you’re eligible.
Keep copies of your FAFSA and a record of the date you submitted or mailed it.
If you need to make corrections on your FAFSA, follow the instructions on the Student Aid Report (SAR) you receive in the mail and return it immediately for reprocessing. If you filed your FAFSA electronically, you can make corrections online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Read financial aid award letters carefully and comply with requests from schools for clarification or additional information as soon as possible. Any corrections or additional information should be submitted to the USDE Central Processor of the FAFSA forms, so KHEAA and the administrators of other federal and institutional programs will have the information too.
Other Financial Aid Applications

Check with the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend to determine if you should file any other applications.
Read and follow directions. Filling out an application properly and neatly is important. You may be disqualified for failing to complete all questions, answering them incorrectly, or missing the deadlines.
Pay close attention to mailing addresses and filing deadlines. Like the FAFSA, other application forms should be filed as early as possible.
Keep copies of everything you mail and a record of the dates you mail the materials. You might want to send your materials by registered mail, return receipt requested.
Talk with your counselor about scholarships available in your community. If you think you may be eligible, obtain and complete the appropriate application.
Check the school’s catalog or Web site for descriptions of any additional scholarships or financial aid for which you may be eligible to apply.
Apply, apply, apply. By applying for several types of aid, you increase your chances of receiving enough to pay your school costs.