We’re a week into January, which means it’s the perfect time for college-bound high school seniors to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a great way for students to gain access to funding for their education. Before the stressors of this school semester begin, use the slower period (and snow days!) in January to gather the information you will need to fill out the application. Also, be sure to review the following tips, insights and resources before submitting an application.
Early is best. The FAFSA for the 2014-2015 school year opened on January 1, 2014. It’s vital that you submit an application as close to this date as possible because some federal and state aid will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Remember to keep in mind the federal, state and college deadlines that could impact your application. For Missouri, the state deadline is April 1, but college deadlines will vary by institution.
No matter what your situation, fill one out. For most students, the FAFSA is the gateway to all money for college. A student is unable to receive any grants, work-study placements or loans without first filling out and submitting a FAFSA.
Beware of FAFSA scams. The most important thing to remember about the FAFSA is that it is free! No one needs to pay to submit an application or to receive help to complete one. In fact, most communities offer resources for families to use throughout the application process. The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis always offers FAFSA workshops and completion clinics to assist with their application. Review their calendar for a FAFSA help event that works best with your schedule. The Missouri Department of Higher Education also offers FAFSA frenzy sites throughout Missouri to help with FAFSA completion.
The previous year’s tax form still counts. Students can submit a FAFSA even if their family still needs to file their most recent taxes. Previous year’s tax forms are accepted on the application, however it’s very important that the FAFSA form is updated once the most recent year’s taxes are submitted. By submitting the FAFSA early and making changes to the tax information later, students are able to reserve their position in line for funding.