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What is – FAFSA?
First Applicants Find Substantial Assets, of course!
FAFSA is the national Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 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.
FAFSA applications for the 2020-2021 opened on October 1, 1019. As a result of the prior year change in 2017, this application is prepared using your 2018 tax return. Summer applicants for 2020 would need to fill in a 2019-2020 FAFSA application which uses your 2017 individual income tax return. The deadline for applying for financial aid using the 2019-2020 FAFSA form is June 30, 2020. The deadline for the 2019-2020 FAFSA corrections or updates is September 12, 2020. The States and Universities have their own deadlines and your student may need to contact their universities financial aid office for any changes in their financial situation. On the 2020-2021 form there is a new question due to the change in federal tax forms 1040A and 1040EZ being eliminated. The question on FAFSA now asks whether you completed IRS Form 1040 Schedule 1.
For example, in the 2020-2021 school year, FAFSA opened October 1, 2019. You will be using your 2018 tax return for that school year. In addition, if an amended return is filed after your initial FAFSA submission, the IRS will notify the individual financial aid office.
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. For instance, if you are preparing the 2019-2020 FAFSA using your 2017 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 form is available online. This aid is disbursed on a first come first serve basis 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. There is now even an app for filling out FAFSA which includes access to the IRS’ data-retrieval tool. The app is called myStudentAid and it allows students to fill out the FAFSA on their phones.
For high school seniors who will not know what school they are attending, you can submit a FAFSA 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.
Each school has a different deadline so it is better to apply early than to risk not getting financial aid. You can add the schools you are planning on applying to as early as October 1st, 2019.
- Keep up with the paperwork!
- Make certain you apply EVERY year. It may not be the perfect scenario, but it is how FAFSA works. More information is available on the FAFSA website.
- Our blog on Financial Aid Disbursement can be very helpful.
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