5 Tips to Prepare for Filing the FAFSA

January 30, 2019

February is financial aid awareness month. As a parent to a High School senior, you might be feeling a bit of heartburn thinking about how you’re going to help your kids pay for college. Beginning January 1st, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online. This government document is required if your student plans to apply for financial aid to fund some college costs. But everyone should complete the FAFSA, even if you think you won’t qualify for federal aid, because sometimes grant money becomes available from colleges and universities but can only be accepted by students who have completed the FAFSA. 

Before you sit down to begin working your way through the FAFSA, here are some tips to help you be extra prepared! 

Create an FSA ID 

An FSA ID is the username and password your student will need to use to complete the application. If your student is still a dependent, you will also need to create a separate FSA ID to complete your required portion of the application. The FSA ID can be created by visiting this link: https://fsaid.ed.gov/ 

Gather All Necessary Documents 

There is a lot of information needed to complete the FAFSA and missing one document will only cause frustrations and a delay in the process. Use this helpful checklist created by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: FAFSA checklist.   

Use Preliminary Tax Information 

It is a misconception that your taxes must be completed before filing the FAFSA. While it might make it easier, it is not a requirement and should not hold up your filing timeline. You can complete the FAFSA with estimated tax information and then make corrections later, if necessary.  

Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet 

The perfect resource for an organized brain, the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet allows you to collect and organize all of the important information needed to complete the FAFSA. It is important to note that this is not the actual application but is simply a guide to help you complete the application accurately. The worksheet can be found here 

Don’t Delay 

When it comes to filing the FAFSA, the first applicants generally receive the most aid. Also, each college or university has their own deadlines for the FAFSA, so it is very important that you maintain a list of the schools you’d like your FAFSA sent to. Even if there is only a slight chance that you will apply to a school, it is still important to list them. You can always remove schools later if you decide not to apply. 

Kevin Moore, CFP® and Jake Rivas, CFP® are financial advisors and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners at i*financial located at 1901 NW Military Hwy Ste. 102, San Antonio, TX 78216. They offer securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. They can be reached at 210-342-4346 or by email at kevin@youandifinancial.com / jake@youandifinancial.com.