Five Ways to Simplify your FAFSA Experience
Posted December 15th, 2016

1. Do it early. For the 2018/2019 award year, students are able to complete their FAFSA using the prior, prior year’s tax data. In other words, you can complete your 18/19 FAFSA, using data from your 2016 taxes. This helps schools and students resolve any issues well in advance of the applicable school year

2. Don’t have your taxes handy? No problem. There are many factors that determine financial aid eligibility – and your taxes are a huge component of that equation. The FAFSA will lead you through a step by step process to enter the information. But if you don’t have it, or if you want to make it easier, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The tool allows applicants to transfer tax information automatically into their FAFSA from the IRS. Doing so decreases errors and the chances of being selected for verification. Even if you are selected for verification, the Data Retrieval simplifies the verification process. In short, just use it.

3. Another must-have is your FSA ID. If you haven’t signed up for your FSA ID yet, you can do so on the federal website. You’ll need it to sign the FAFSA and other documents through the Department of Education’s Direct Loan program. If you’re a Dependent, your parents will also need to sign up for an FSA ID. Speaking of your parents…

4. Get your parents on board. If you are a dependent, your parents will need to enter their information into the FAFSA as well. Pick a day where you can work on it together and consider it family bonding time.

5. Reach out to your college’s Financial Aid department. These folks deal with the ins and outs of the FAFSA and the financial aid process on a daily basis. They’ll answer your questions and give you pointers about how to manage your aid before, during, and after college.