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.
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.