FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now available for the 2017-2018 school year. When you complete this form online, it is sent to the colleges you indicate and they use the information to determine the financial aid package they will offer you. You can find the form by clicking here. To complete the form you will need a FSA ID, click here to create a new FSA ID. If you have completed a form in previous years, then you can use the same sign-in credentials and FSA ID.
Here’s what you will need to complete the form:
- Have about 45 minutes to 1 hour of quiet time to focus on entering the correct information. Nothing will hold up your financial aid more than an incorrect Social Security number or an income number with too many zeros at the end.
- Have everyone’s Social Security numbers ready to input. You don’t want to put your application on hold while you track down this information from your files.
- Know which colleges should receive your information. You will be asked to add them on the FAFSA. You can only add 10 colleges at a time, but after you submit you can go back later and add the others.
- Have the 2015 Tax Return handy, but if the FAFSA allows you to use the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), it is much easier as the information is added automatically. The form guides you through a series of questions to determine if you can do this.
And yes, you read that right—use 2015 tax information! The biggest change to FAFSA isn’t that the application is available earlier but that you can use the information from the completed tax return from 2 years before the college year starts. FAFSA calls this Prior-Prior Year or PPY. If your circumstances have changed in that time, contact the Financial Aid office at the college.
TOP TIP: Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Do not delay so that you can get your share of financial aid. If you wait, the college may run out of funds to give.