The time has come for families to start completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA). If you have a child who will be in college for the 2012-2013 school year you can access and submit your FAFSA form starting January 1st. It can be accessed at www.fafsa.ed.gov To electronically sign the FAFSA, you need a personal identification number known as a PIN. To create a PIN, visit www.pin.ed.gov. Keep it in a safe place since you will need it each year you file the FAFSA online. For families of returning college students who have already completed the FAFSA once, you can use the Renewal FAFSA that is already populated with your basic information like name, SSN, address, etc.
While families can complete the paper version of the FAFSA, the online version makes the process more streamlined. The online version will omit questions that are not applicable based your answers to previous questions. Also, the online version will not allow you to skip any questions and it will notice if you have made any contradictory answers and will allow you to correct those mistakes. Finally, you can rest assured that completing the online FAFSA is very safe because it uses encryption, which sends all of your information in code.
Remember that it does not cost anything to complete and submit the FAFSA form. Even if you don’t think that you will qualify for federal aid, you should still complete an application. There are many factors besides family income that are taken into consideration when distributing aid. Also, some schools won’t consider you for institutional scholarships if you haven’t completed the FAFSA.
Get the process started as soon as possible. You don’t need to wait until you filed your income tax returns. For the FAFSA, you can use estimated tax information to file your FAFSA and verify that information once your tax returns are complete. If you have questions while you are completing the FAFSA, schedule an appointment with a consultant at Advantage College Planning!