February 6, 2012
Remember to file your FAFSA early! You must complete the FAFSA form in order to qualify for most federal and state financial aid, including most school based financial aid programs. Check with your school to see their FAFSA Deadlines.
To file your FAFSA online, go to: http://fafsa.ed.gov
March 5, 2010
Attention parents! Today marks March 5, and school financial aid deadlines are here, or very close. The majority of schools require all paperwork to be in during this month in order to fairly distribute financial aid and have plenty of time to assemble students’ award packages.
So, what can you do to make sure it all goes smoothly?
1. Make sure your taxes are filed.
This may be a “what?” moment if you are new to the FAFSA process and/or this blog, but in order for your child or ward to file their FAFSA, they need information from you. Specifically, they need your Annual Gross Income figure from your 1040 or 1040EZ form.
If you are the type to hold off on filing taxes until April’s cutoff date, you are putting the student in a diminished position to get the maximum amount of aid possible for the upcoming school year. If you absolutely must hold off, have them file with the previous year’s numbers and then submit an amended FAFSA as soon as your taxes are complete. You can find all the relevant forms and processes on FAFSAOnline.com.
2. Gently, but firmly remind your child.
Nobody likes paperwork. However, if you and your family need aid money from the government or school to pay for your child’s education, you can’t afford to let the FAFSA sit on the back burner. If necessary, you should put a day on your calendar (in the very near future) to sit down with them and help them complete it; this will ensure it gets done, and is filled out correctly.
If you need any advice, or would like to know more about how the FAFSA works, check out the FAFSAOnline.com blog for lots of relevant and interesting posts.
August 28, 2009
With colleges heading back this week, you should have your financial aid already lined up, but it’s the perfect time to start planning for next year.
Let’s go over the basics:
* Fill out the FAFSA as early as you can. Financial aid is first-come, first-served so get your paperwork in early. If you ‘re waiting on a few last 1099s, use your existing paperwork to file early, and file an amendment when everything finally arrives. If you use a tax prefessionsal, they will often file the FAFSA for you for little to no additional charge.
* You need the FAFSA for all federal loans, such as Stafford, PLUS and Perkins loans. Some scholarships also require the FAFSA.
*Always exhaust your federal options first, such as Perkins, Stafford and PLUS loans, before looking at alternative sources of funding such as private loans or home equity loans. Federal student loan offer borrower incentives and protections that you will not find elsewhere.
June 24, 2009
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to unveil a new, simpler FAFSA form at today’s daily White House press briefing. This is great news for frustrated parents and students everywhere.
We don’t have too many details yet beyond the following:
- Online form will shrink from 30 screens to 10
- Obscure questions that target a tiny fraction of students have been dropped, such as the question about “special combat pay”
- Questions re-phrased to sound less encyclopedic. CNN cites the following example:
“At any time… did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?” will now be, “Are you homeless?”
Click here to read CNN’s article. I’ll update as more news arrives.
March 11, 2009
President Obama yesterday clarified some point on his higher education plan in a speech before the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative conference.
Given that this is a student loan blog, I got a chuckle out of his comment that it currently requires a PhD to figure out student loan aid – and I”m sure many of you would agree! The process most definitely needs simplification.
Read an excerpt of the president’s comments below:
“The fifth part of America’s education strategy is providing every American with a quality higher education – whether it’s college or technical training. Never has a college degree been more important. And never has it been more expensive. At a time when so many of our families are bearing enormous economic burdens, the rising cost of tuition threatens to shatter dreams. That is why will simplify federal college assistance forms so it doesn’t take a PhD to apply for financial aid. And that is why we are already taking steps to make college or technical training affordable.
For the first time ever, Pell Grants will not be subject to the politics of the moment or the whims of the market – they will be a commitment that Congress is required to uphold each and every year. Further, because rising costs mean Pell Grants cover less than half as much tuition as they did thirty years ago, we are raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 a year and indexing it above inflation. We are also providing a $2,500 a year tuition tax credit for students from working families. And we are modernizing and expanding the Perkins Loan Program to make sure schools like UNLV don’t get a tenth as many Perkins Loans as schools like Harvard. To help pay for all of this, we are putting students ahead of lenders by eliminating wasteful student loan subsidies that cost taxpayers billions each year. All in all, we are making college affordable for seven million more students with a sweeping investment in our children’s futures and America’s success. And I call on Congress to join me – and the American people – by helping make these investments possible.”
You can read the complete text of his address at the Wall Street Journal’s blog, Washington Wire.
January 15, 2009
It’s January, and that means you should get your FAFSA in NOW!
The easiest way is to do your taxes first, then copy the numbers over to the FAFSA as the FAFSA directly references the IRS 1040 form.
If you don’t have all your data yet, that’s OK – you can file based on what you have, such as your pay stubbs if your W-2s haven’t showed up yet, then file an amendment later.
I highly suggest you read the FAFSA Guide eBook, offered free from the Student Loan Network. It goes over the FAFSA line by line and explains it in terms we can all understand. It also has great tips on how to make sure you’re getting the most aid you qualify for.
February 26, 2007
The New York Daily News had a great article on paying for college, written by George Chin, CUNY’s director of financial aid, with a wonderful Q & A on Financial Aid and the FAFSA Application that I’m including below:
What information is used to calculate the estimate?
The adjusted gross income (as listed on your tax returns) of you and your parents. Other key factors are assets, family size, the age of the parents and number of kids in college. A student with family income of $38,000 and few assets obviously has a better chance of getting aid than one from a family making $180,000 with a portfolio of investments and a summer home.
What’s considered an asset?
Parental assets include equity in a second home, stocks, bonds, college savings plans, businesses and farms (there aren’t too many of these in our area!). Students’ personal savings, businesses, stocks and bonds are also considered. The main residence and retirement plans such as 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts are not included.
Are we expected to use all of our assets to pay for college?
No. The formula acknowledges other important expenses, such as saving for retirement. An “asset protection allowance” also is applied to offset a family’s net assets.
My parents are in their 60s. Does that affect the calculation?
Absolutely. The asset protection allowance, recomputed annually, grows as parents grow older.
Does a student get a break if more than one child is in college at a time?
There’s an adjustment lowering the estimated contribution. With two kids in college, the estimate for one is roughly halved; for three, it’s cut into thirds, etc.
How is family size a factor?
Income is offset based on household size. A family of four with one child in college has $23,560 offset against income. A family of six with a kid in college gets $32,510 offset.
Is the estimated contribution what we’re expected to pay the college in cash?
No. Part of it covers costs normally incurred for kids in school, such as clothes and food. You cover the rest from savings and loans.
Will all colleges rely on the estimated family contribution to determine whether I get financial aid?
Yes and no. All colleges use the amount for federal aid. Info from the College Board is another measure used by many, more expensive private colleges when they award institutional aid. The College Board system, called Profile, collects more financial data than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for a more complete analysis of a family’s ability to pay. Under FAFSA, for example, 7% of gross income is offset as an allowance against local taxes. Profile applies different offsets to different income levels. For all colleges, fill out FAFSA first. Colleges will tell applicants if they require a Profile form, as well.
How high can my estimated family contribution go?
To $99,999 (no need-based aid there). If you attend a modestly priced private school or CUNY and have annual school costs of $11,000 and an estimated contribution of $11,000, you won’t qualify for aid. Your estimated contribution is the same whether you apply to CUNY, Harvard, NYU or Stony Brook University. It’s based on your finances, not your school.
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