If you have a child who is going to be in college next fall, the time to apply for financial aid is now. It used to be that you could not submit your FAFSA form before January 1st, however, those rules have changed. As of October 1st you are now allowed to file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. The FAFSA form is used to determine if you’re eligible for federal student loans, grants, work study, student loans and scholarships. The bottom line: if you’re going to be in college next fall and you are seeking any sort of financial assistance you will need to complete the FAFSA form and the sooner you do it, the better for you. The reasoning is quite simple and that is aid is typically awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, if you want a greater chance of being able to obtain financial assistance, you should file your FAFSA as soon as you can. In addition, another benefit of filing early is that you will have an idea of how much aid you qualify for and that can help in selecting what college to attend. After all, in today’s world where college is so expensive, how you pay for your education is an important consideration.
I also feel that those who do not think they qualify for financial aid should still consider completing the FAFSA form. Many people assume that if their income is over a certain level, they won’t qualify for any aid; that is not necessarily the case. Income is a factor in determining need-based aid but many upper-income people find that they still qualify for aid as well. In addition, don’t forget that the number of children in your family and how many of them are enrolled in college is also a factor. Therefore, my recommendation is for most students to file a FAFSA even if they don’t think they will qualify for any assistance.
To learn more about FAFSA and to complete the application go to www.fafsa.ed.gov. There is a wealth of information on this site regarding colleges in general along with information on FAFSA.
One question I am frequently asked is if the average person can complete the FAFSA application themselves or do they need to hire a company to prepare it for them? As far as I’m concerned, the great majority of people can complete the FAFSA application on their own. However, as with any other federal form, you have to take your time completing the form. If you make a mistake it could delay the processing of your application and it can also reduce the amount of money that you are eligible for. Therefore, just like in completing your tax return, accuracy is important.
Even though you have until June 30th to technically complete the FAFSA application, you don’t want to wait that long. The sooner you apply the better your chances to obtain assistance and the sooner you’ll know what your financial situation is so you can plan accordingly. Therefore, since enrollment is now open for FAFSA my advice: the sooner you do it the better it will be for the student.
If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email him at Rick@bloomassetmanagement.com.