Filling out FAFSA—more Important than Financial Aid

Picture40First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to students about college affordability at a workshop on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.

When it comes to applying for financial aid for college, no single document is more important to complete than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Simply put, it’s the best way you can ensure you have a shot at obtaining financial aid.

The FAFSA is the starting point for applying to almost all student financial assistance programs. It also determines eligibility for federal financial aid. And, many schools use it as part of their applications for nonfederal aid.

It’s very important that you not delay filing the FAFSA because much of the student aid based on financial need is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you’re potentially leaving money on the table. The federal filing period for the FAFSA started in January and runs through June 30, 2015.

Be sure to also check with each college your child is applying to because FAFSA deadlines vary among schools.

This is why we always tell families to get the FAFSA filed ASAP after Jan. 1,” said Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher at Edvisors Network Inc., which operates interactive sites with college-related information. “They should not wait until they’ve filed federal income tax returns or been admitted to file the FAFSA, or they may miss deadlines for state and college aid funds.”

Source: Pamela Yip, Dallas Morning News


Message From The Dean Bob Fulcomer

Seniors and college students should have the FAFSA completed or at least be in the process of its completion.  In addition, it is time for seniors to be looking at and evaluating their acceptance and award letters.  These steps are just as important as the application process.  This is when they need to evaluate each school based on their degree and major options as well as their financial aid package.  This is the time to be working with the coach to validate the information that was submitted, making sure the school’s financial aid office has received the Student Aid Report (SAR).

Juniors and below need to continue to work with their personal HIFE CPP coach on class selection.  If the school offers it, look at the possibility of taking some college classes for dual/ concurrent enrollment.  These courses are almost 100% transferable when the student starts attending their destination college.


Easier FAFSA Inspires Hope for More College Aid

Experts offer advice on how to avoid expensive financial aid mistakes.Picture42

Procrastination and tricky financial aid rules have been costing millions of college students big bucks. But, new efforts to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier may enable more students to qualify for more money.About half of all students who file a FAFSA miss their state’s deadline and thus lose out on opportunities for extra grants, one study has found. And, another recent study found that students who sought free professional help filling out their FAFSAs got 30 percent more aid than those not offered advice and assistance

Students who haven’t filed their applications by March 1st have already missed deadlines in at least nine states. But, aid officials urge those who’ve waited until now to buckle down and fill out the form—soon. The federal government is still accepting applications for its grants and loans, and students lucky enough to live in the two dozen states with later deadlines still have a chance of getting maximum aid. A few of the soon approaching state’s deadlines are: Indiana—March 10th, Kentucky and North Dakota— March 15th, Mississippi— March 31st. In addition, about 20 other states have deadlines of April 1st and later.Picture43

Truly, one of the biggest reasons for procrastination, the difficulty of the form, has been reduced this year. The most recent electronic version of the FAFSA has eliminated severa l redundant questions. And in some cases, the FAFSA is allowing those who’ve filed their taxes to click a button and have their relevant tax information automatically entered into their FAFSA— saving a lot of time and energy.

The FAFSA uses some tax lingo that is not user- friendly,” says Amanda Weick, an H&R Block tax preparer in Maple Heights, Ohio, who helped with a study to see the impact that free FAFSA help, provided to a sampling of families who happened to go to H&R Block to get their taxes prepared, would have on students. Students who got their FAFSAs started while completing their tax forms were 33 percent more likely to receive federal grants. In many cases, the students had assumed they wouldn’t receive anything, Weick said.

We were able to say to them: ‘Based on your tax return, you may be eligible for this amount of money.’ And you could see the wheels turning in their minds,” WPicture41eick said. Failing to read the fine print can also result in expensive errors. The FAFSA states that the values of some assets, such as homes or retirement accounts, shouldn’t be included, but some parents mistakenly add those in and thus reduce their eligibility for aid, says Al Hoffman, a private aid counselor in New London, CT.

Likewise, he says he often has to deliver bad news to stepparents who mistakenly believe that prenuptial agreements absolve them of financial responsibility for stepchildren’s tuition.The FAFSA also doesn’t give any advice on how to structure family finances to increase availability for aid, such as using savings to pay down bills or debts, or moving a student’s college savings into a 529 college savings account, Hoffman notes.

Source: Kim Clark , US News

 


FAFSA Deadlines

FAFSA deadlines are set by federal and state agencies, as well as individual school financial aid offices, and vary widely. Some schools have deadlines as early as the second week in January!

Additionally, applicants have to pay particular attention to deadline specifics, as some refer to the date by which individual FAFSAs must be submitted (Transaction Receipt Date), while others refer to the date by which individual FAFSAs must be fully processed (completed by the federal processor, signed and made available to the school financial aid office).

Important Information: The 2014-15 school year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) federal expiration date is June 30, 2015. Here are some important tips for meeting this deadline:

  • On June 29th and 30th, applications for the 2014-15 school year will be taken by PHONE ONLY. Please call 1.866.550.5120 for assistance.
  • Applications must be completed and submitted to Student Financial Aid Services by 10:00PM Central Daylight time to make the federal deadline
  • Applications can also be submitted directly to the federal processor by midnight Central Daylight time, June 30, 2015 at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
  • Corrections can be made to your application at www.fafsa.ed.gov and must be submitted by midnight Central Daylight time, September 19, 2015.
    • Please Note: Your college financial aid office will determine how financial aid dollars can be applied based on enrollment periods. Please contact your administrator for more information.It pays to file early! No matter what your individual state or school filing deadline is, when it comes to your FAFSA, the sooner you file after January 1st each year (the date that the federal processor begins accepting applications), the better!Many types of financial aid (particularly need-based aid, including grants, loans and work-study programs) are limited and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner your FAFSA is fully processed and released to your school’s financial aid administrators, the better your chances of receiving consideration for the maximum amount of financial aid for which you may be eligible.

      Source: Student Financial Aid Services INC.


      Student FAFSA Testimonials

      Picture47“Like most high school students, I didn’t know how paying for college was going to happen. My family usually makes only enough money to pay bills and buy groceries with a little extra money to spend occasionally. Luckily, my school had a career center where I could search in a big drawer filled with scholarship applications to applications to complete. In the end, I received many of  the small local scholarships I applied for, which helped in the long run; FAFSA also offered me a good amount of money.” – Weldin Yanes, 2014 alumnusPicture46

“Whether you are rich or poor, do the FAFSA. It costs nothing, and there’s a good chance it will make at least a dent in your needs. It makes a crater in mine. Even if you are not prone to academics, there are other areas in which to demonstrate your intelligence.”  -Susan Carlson, 2014 alumna

Source:  George Fox University

 


 

Picture48 Source: Home School College Counselor


Coachs Corner

This is a very busy time for seniors. They are working on the FAFSA and hearing from colleges. If you are working with seniors, remind them to check the schools they applied to for acceptance

and financial aid. If they want a college comparison, their coach can do a comparison for them. Seniors also need to continue applying for scholarships. It is a busy time; however, with families

and HIFE CPP coaches supporting our seniors, they are on the path to success.

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