FAFSA: A New Year’s Resolution You Should Keep

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January 3rd, 2015 by schoolbound

FAFSAAnother holiday season is winding to an end. The tree is by the curb, the decorations are back in storage, and the lights are coming down this weekend (or next weekend, or whenever the neighbors start to complain). The resolutions have been made, and more than a few have undoubtedly already been broken. For high school seniors, college students and parents of both, there is one resolution that they may not have made, but probably should have: Get the FAFSA submitted early.
W-2’s will be arriving soon, and before long the IRS will be eagerly awaiting your tax returns. If you are a high school senior, a college student, thinking about going back to school, or the parent of a dependent student who will be applying for college financial aid, it is also the time of year when the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) becomes available online.Starting January 1, the online and paper versions of the FAFSA are accessible at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Since many (but by no means all) student financial aid programs have funding limitations (i.e., when the money’s gone, it’s gone) and require students to file a FAFSA, filling out this year’s FAFSA as early as possible should be a high priority. Even if you haven’t received your W-2, you can get started filling out the FAFSA online and return later to the website to make corrections as necessary.
If this is your first time completing the FAFSA, it is highly recommended that you utilize the online form. It will save you time, confusion, and aspirin. In 2010, the FSAO (Federal Student Aid Office) collaborated with the IRS to institute “skip logic” throughout the online process for those who choose to connect their accounts on the FAFSA website to past tax returns filed on the IRS website. The online FAFSA system will use the information you submitted to the IRS to skip over questions that are not applicable to you. Also, if you have a FAFSA on file, the system will import that data to streamline the process.
So this year, even if you have yet to lose weight, read a book, or get started on any of your resolutions, you can give yourself a jumpstart in the new year by submitting the FAFSA as early as possible. This could make all the difference in paying for college in 2015. Happy New Year!
Ready to start the Free Application for Federal Student Aid? Go to the FAFSA homepage at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm.
Still have some questions? Check out this guide to Completing the FAFSA at http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/completing_fafsa/index.html.
Want to know how much time you have to file? Find your state’s FAFSA deadline date at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm.