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First Applicants Find Substantial Assets, of course!
FAFSA is the national Free Application for Federal Student Aid but, based on how aid is distributed, it may as well stand for First Applications Find Substantial Assets. Because aid is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, every student that hopes to receive aid for college must fill out this form to even be considered. Every college has its own deadline. For high school seniors who do not know what school they are attending, you can submit an application for schools you are planning on attending and then update your application down the road. If your financial situation has changed since filing a tax return, do not hold off starting the application process. You can discuss the change in finances with the financial affairs office once you know your student’s school.
FSU’s school code is 0371. FSU’s priority deadlines are December 1st each year. After December 1, applications are reviewed in the order they were received. Of course, if your student did not know if they were accepted back then, but they can speak with the Office of Financial Affairs to update their application if your circumstances have changed substantially from what was reported on the Federal Income tax return for the year submitted. If your student has not yet filled out FAFSA, do it immediately. The one take away we have learned from 2020, is that you never know when your financial position may change.
If your financial situation has changed since filing the PPY tax return being used on your FAFSA then you will need to manually make the changes on FAFSA. For instance, if you are preparing the 2021-2022 FAFSA using your 2019 tax return and you filed as “married filing joint” tax return but you’re no longer married (divorced, single) then you would need to deduct the former spouse’s income and deduction amounts. In addition, if you were single on the tax return being used on the FAFSA and now you are married, you would need to make a manual calculation using your new spouse’s income and deductions.
The FAFSA is available online. This is a first come first serve as these loans are limited and time-sensitive. You can complete the application initially using estimated tax information and do not need to wait for your taxes to start the process. And, there is now an app for filling out FAFSA which includes access to the IRS’ data-retrieval tool. The app is called myStudentAid which will allow students to fill out the FAFSA on their phones on either an iPhone or Android.
The FAFSA uses the prior year’s tax return for the academic year you are applying even though a freshman is a first-time applicant. If you do not qualify this year (maybe it was a strong income year for you) you are entitled to an appeal. You will need to fill out a petition form but even if you petition, aid is still contingent upon fund availability.
Make certain you apply EVERY year. It may not be the perfect scenario, but it is how FAFSA works.
For information on Financial Aid Disbursement read our blog.
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