Yes, you can fill out your FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year starting October 1st. Yep! In less than 48 hours you could be looking up asset values and tax information from 2015 and possibly pulling your hair out in frustration. Woohoo!
Fill it out HERE on the FAFSA website.
First thing….and you can do this TODAY….yep………even before the 1st….you AND your child need your own FSA ID. It’s your Federal Student Aid ID. Get in HERE. Each person must get their own. Do not apply for the one for your child.
Some things to remember…
- October 1st is earlier than usual for filling it out. It was January in prior years.
- Colleges sometimes have early deadlines so it is best to get it done soon. Here are State deadlines but keep in mind that the school’s deadline may be sooner.
- There is an IRS data retrieval tool that most can use to fill in the 2015 tax return questions (those filing Married Filing Separately can’t use it or those that amended their 2015 return). It’s not a huge deal. Just have a copy of the return available.
- You will need to know social security numbers, your tax info (if you don’t just retrieve it automatically), your untaxed income info and the value of your assets such as bank and investment accounts. Careful though, not all assets you own are includible.
- When they figure out the Expected Family Contribution….they consider a higher amount of the CHILD’S INCOME/ASSETS than they do of the parent;s which means there will be LESS money offered as loans. They include of lower amount of the PARENT’S INCOME AND ASSETS. So you may be offered LESS money if your child has money in their name than if they don’t.
- The expected family contribution they say you and your child should be able to pay is the SAME regardless of the school. It’s the same for a $20,000 per year school as for a $60,000 per year school. It’s also the same for any major….they don’t judge.
- FAFSA must be filled out EVERY year that your child attends school.
- Don’t assume you aren’t eligible for anything. These are used by colleges for both free money AND loans.
- For unmarried parents that don’t live together only ONE parent (and the child always fills it out) fills out the FAFSA. The school guidance office can give you advice on which parent.
- If you had a big change from what was on your 2015 return you can contact the guidance office of the college for special consideration after you get the results back. It’s up to them at that point.
- It’s better to fill it out online than on paper.
- If you have a senior in high school then the school may be offering help to parents or may be having a meeting about filling this out.
- Be careful about hiring someone to fill it out for you. The numbers are the numbers. If you need help, first consider calling the guidance office at the college your child will be attending or is already attending. They may be able to help you fill it out on your own.
You will need to know what schools you want the info sent to. You can look up the codes while you are filling it out.
APPLICATION TIP: even if your child really loves just one school……maybe apply to three….why not have a safety net? Plus those other two may offer more free money and become more desirable.