For the first time next year’s college students (enrolling the school year of 2017-18) and their parents have been able to do the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting October 1. Also for the first time, students and parents will use PRIOR PRIOR year information. Read on….
Starting October 1 current high school seniors and current college students and their parents have been able to file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the U.S. government vehicle for determining how much and the various kinds of financial aid that can be offered, based on financial need: grants (free money), work study (work at a job, usually on campus–nontaxable), and student and parent loans (must be repaid).
The first step in this process is to obtain the Federal Student Aid (FSA) I.D. for both the student who will be attending college in Fall 2017 and the parent(s). The FSA I.D. replaces the former four-digit PIN number. This FSA I.D. is even more secure because students and their parents provide a personalized username, password and FIVE security questions of their own design. The I.D. is needed for both the student and parent to sign the FAFSA electronically.
Go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov to get the FSA I.D. taken care of and to do the FAFSA, for which you will need your 2015 income information as well as current info of assets. Starting this financial aid season you will use PRIOR PRIOR year income. What that means is that if the student will be attending college during the 2017-18 school year, the student and parents will use their income from TWO years prior to that time, thus the income from 2015. This will continue to be the case for all future years.
Several more important points:
NOTE FOR ALL: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do the FAFSA early. You won’t get a financial aid offer from your various colleges until the FAFSA is done. Also, read EVERYTHING! I’ve had parents make mistakes on the FAFSA that have caused significant problems–or at least delays.
NOTE ON STATE GRANTS: The California deadline for the FAFSA is March 2 for four-year college students who want to be considered for a Cal Grant, which can pay all tuition and fees at a public college in California. Leave a comment here if you want to know your state’s deadline (private colleges will have their own deadlines–check with the financial aid departments).
NOTE FOR ATHLETES: Colleges will want you to do the FAFSA, so that they see you are being proactive about accessing all kinds of financial aid–not just the sports scholarship.
Do you have questions? I am not an accountant, but I can answer basic questions and can point you to helpful resources.