First Applicants Find Substantial Assets, FAFSA of course!
FAFSA is the national Free Application for Federal Student Aid but, based on how aid is distributed. 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.
Beginning with the 2017-2018, students were able to file using prior-prior year (PPY) tax data. As a result of this change, you could submit the FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year on October 1, 2018, using your 2017 tax and income information. (Summer applicants for 2019 need to submit a 2018-2019 application using the 2016 tax and income information). If you have not done so already, you will also need to complete that year’s application as well. In addition, if an amended return was filed, the IRS will notify the individual financial aid office.
If your financial situation has changed since the 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 2018-2019 FAFSA using your 2016 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.
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 and 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 and therefore better to apply early than risk not getting financial aid. You can add the schools you are planning on applying early.
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.