FAFSA is becoming a household term. It’s certainly much easier to say than Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are many families who assume they do not qualify for financial aid because of their income bracket. Unfortunately, they decide not to apply and miss out on the chance to receive grants and loans from the state and federal government or qualify for lower interest loans.
Not every family will qualify for financial aid, and there are always direct and indirect costs when obtaining a college education. Yet, at BFIT, we find that more than 90% of students end up receiving financial aid either in the form of Pell Grants from the government or via institutional aid. Bottom line, there are always opportunities to reduce college tuition and expenses.
At BFIT, we find more than 90% of students end up receiving financial aid either in the form of Pell Grants from the government of via institutional aid.
College is one of the most important investments you will ever make. Take the time to make sure you get as much help and assistance with paying for it as possible. For those families who find it difficult to pay for a college education, FAFSA is by far the most important application to complete, after the admissions application. Without filing these documents, there is no way to receive financial aid based on your needs.
So now that you’re convinced to fill out FAFSA, what can you do to maximize your financial aid? I’m glad you asked. Here are four mistakes to avoid that will make the financial aid process run a lot smoother.
- Not completing your FAFSA earlier in the year: Countless students miss out on grants and scholarships because they did not complete the application before a certain deadline. For example: The Massachusetts State Grant has a deadline of May 1st. If your application is in a day after, the student misses out on approximately $1,700 in state money that would’ve helped cover tuition and didn’t have to be paid back.
- Not creating your username and password: As of January 2015, there are no longer 4 digit pins to sign in and out of the FAFSA application. Students and parents must create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at https://fsaid.ed.gov to serve as their electronic signature.
- Not referring to the actual tax document to complete the FAFSA application: Many times, people will guess how much money they made in order to get through the application. It’s important to insert the actual numbers from your tax returns. Guessing this information puts you in 2 positions, neither of which you want: being selected for verification or being ineligible to receive financial aid.
- Not using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool: Better than guessing or entering information from your taxes, FAFSA allows you to transfer your tax information from the IRS website using their data retrieval tool. It ensures accurate and reliable reporting of your financial information. Remember, it takes 2-4 weeks after submitting your taxes for this option to become available so get those taxes filed as soon as possible.
Avoid making these common FAFSA mistakes, and you can avoid missing out on opportunities to reduce your tuition cost and get help on your way to a valuable education.
Regardless of your income, FAFSA helps institutions determine how they can help ease the cost of tuition for each student. This means that even if you don’t receive federal or state grants, it still serves as a foundation for your college or university to review each individual family circumstance and award institutional aid accordingly. Avoid making these common FAFSA mistakes, and you can avoid missing out on opportunities to reduce your tuition cost and get help on your way to a valuable education.