The Often-Overlooked FAFSA Tips Everyone Should Follow

by Dulce Gonzalez

FAFSA Application

FAFSA Application

The FAFSA, otherwise known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can be anything but irrelevant. It is an important source of financial aid and should be justly treated as such. But before you start pulling your hair out of frustration, I just wanted to inform you of the often-overlooked simple FAFSA tips everyone should follow when filling out the FAFSA.


The first and most important note of advice is that the FAFSA is free. No one should pay anything to fill it out. You would be surprised how many people fall for the scams of mock FAFSA sites such as fafsa.com or fafsa.net. Be smart, and avoid them like the plague.

Another good idea would be to create your FAFSA PIN number early. This PIN is uniquely yours and serves as your electronic signature. Creating one early will allow you to save time when it comes to submitting the FAFSA. The earlier you turn in the FAFSA, the more likely you will receive a good amount of aid.

The FAFSA will also ask you to list your top ten universities. It used to be advised to list the most costly college on top in order to receive the highest amount of aid possible. However, that isn’t always wise. It is actually better to list the colleges in your order of preference since the point of listing the colleges of choice is to ensure that you will receive the best aid for the college you actually will attend. What if you can’t decide which college you want as your number one? Then that’s when you should list the costlier of the two even if you decide to attend your second-choice institution.

Yet, if you’re a California student filling out the FAFSA, make sure you list at least one California institution. The FAFSA will call upon state and federal funds therefore if you wish to be eligible for a California grant, your chance of earning one will be greater if you show you’re not just going to take the money and run off to another state.

Another word of advice to students: don’t stress your parents out more by forcing them to file their taxes before they are ready. It is perfectly OK to estimate their income on the FAFSA. You will have an opportunity to update the income and make changes to the FAFSA after you receive an e-mail saying that your application has been processed. If special circumstances occur, such as a change of income, family issue, etc., name it! It is very important to let the college know that there has been a turn of events so they can adjust as necessary.

Last but not least, the FAFSA has to be filed every year therefore if you received financial aid and listed it as income, make sure you fill the box somewhere below that asks how much of your income was financial aid.

Read more FAFSA hints from other students and parents who have been through the FAFSA application process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Dulce for sharing your FAFSA tips everyone should follow. I like your advice to not stress your parents out by forcing them to file their tax returns too early. Good luck to you.

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More FAFSA Tips Everyone Should Follow

FAFSA | FAFSA Hints | Expected Family Contribution
| Dependent or Independent Student | Parental Income on FAFSA | FAFSA Official Website | Printable FAFSA Application | FAFSA Application PIN Number | FAFSA Application | FAFSA Deadline

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Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAFSA Help.

FAFSA Tips

by Taylor
(Texas)

My FAFSA journey began later than most kids start gathering their information for FAFSA. I am also home schooled, so I had to do it all on my own with no help from my counselor. I suggest to start gathering your information starting about January, so you do not have to rush to make sure you have everything submitted that you need to submit.
I started gathering my information in March and I had to rush to gather information, and I was stressing way to much trying to get everything together before all of the deadlines hit. I had to go to the IRS to get my tax transcript for the previous year. I also had to wait on my dad to get his mailed to him since he works late and the IRS closes at 5:00 p.m.. Getting a tax transcript mailed takes about 5-7 days.

Once I got my tax transcript, I had to make a FAFSA account. I had to enter my information into the blanks and then get my dad's transcript and do the same. I then had to go onto Howard Payne's website, and fill out their financial aid packet.

It took me a couple of times to actually be able to turn in the papers they needed to see what I was able to get, if I was able to get anything. I had to call the financial aid office a couple of times because I could not figure out some of the information they were asking for.

Due to all of the complications I had with the FAFSA journey, it took me almost two months to get everything completed and turned in the correct way. I was pushing the deadline a little bit, and I also stressed way to much due to the lack of time I gave myself to turn everything in. They were quick about giving me my answer and let me know in a couple of weeks of how much they were giving me which let me be able to plan on how I am going to pay for what Financial aid did not cover.

My advice to seniors would be, start early about two to three months early if not earlier so you have enough time to get everything together and completed before the deadline.





Thanks Taylor for sharing your FAFSA experience. Best of luck to you in college.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAFSA Help.

Tips for Easy FAFSA

by Vatsal Shah
(Flower Mound, Texas, USA)

University of Texas

University of Texas

FAFSA is Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the simplest and easiest way to earn grants, work study assistance, and government loans. It only takes a few simple steps in order to finish the FAFSA.

The first and the most important thing you want to remember about FAFSA are-apply for it as early as possible. Do not wait a single minute or a single day to apply. Why? Because the longer you wait there are fewer chances that you will be awarded all the federal aid you possible could get. The earliest you can start applying is January 1st of each month. You want to make sure you apply in that first week of January latest.

In order to prepare yourself early for the FAFSA, fill out the sample FAFSA form (see Printable FAFSA Application). If you fill the sample form out a year earlier, than while filling out actual FAFSA you will be a step ahead of the game. Make sure, you double-check each information you input in the application. A simple mistake can cause you to wait for federal aid, which will reduce the chances of you getting the maximum aid.

Also, make sure to file your tax returns, and keep all the information handy. With the help of new technology, now you can just transfer your IRS documents from the IRS website to FAFSA directly. These can only be done if you have all your information for the tax returns. So, these will help you in speeding up your application.

Additionally, in order for fast and most efficient way fill out the application online. These will make the process faster with fewer errors.

Hence, this way you will be able to file the application easily and have a greater chance of winning the federal aid you deserve.

Read more FAFSA Help and Free Financial Aid from other students and parents who have been through the FAFSA process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Vatsal for sharing your Tips for Easy FAFSA application. I like your advice “Do not wait a single minute or a single day to apply”. It is that important and some grants are given on a first come, first awarded basis. Best of luck to you.

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More Tips for Easy FAFSA

FAFSA | FAFSA Hints | Expected Family Contribution
| Dependent or Independent Student | Parental Income on FAFSA | FAFSA Official Website | Printable FAFSA Application | FAFSA Application PIN Number | FAFSA Application | FAFSA Deadline | FAFSA Correction | Student Aid Report

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To share your entry in our scholarship contest, just click here.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAFSA Help.

FAFSA 101 for the UnLearned

by Destiny McGhee
(Corona, CA, USA)

University of California Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles

When identifying the what, why, when, where and how to of the FAFSA Application world, one can become quite discouraged. The name in itself sounds intimidating -- Free Application For Federal Student Aid. Honestly, it sounds like a test....

The average student or parent is unlearned and will rely on others such as admission counselors and high school mentors to assist in this process. But I will submit to you three easy hints about completing this application. A few helpful hints for the unlearned to help ease the process. For the purpose of simplicity, we will name them tips.

Tip Number ONE is to Start On Time....Early Even. The process is long and can be discouraging to those without help. Don't give up -- start on time. For example, 2013-2014 FAFSA applications were accepted on January 1, 2013. Thus, an individual should begin processing his or her online application on January 1, 2013.

Tip Number TWO calls for individuals to prepare a mock application, based on a prior year. This helpful hint would allow the applicant to become familiar with the type of questions that are posed on the application. One may even utilize the prior year's application to get a head start. It prepares both the applicant and parents alike to gather all the required documents to satisfy the application. Remember, knowledge is power....when you know better, you can position yourself to perform better. As such, if you already know the questions that will be asked, you can have it ready for application day one.

The last and Final Tip Number THREE is to retain a binder exclusively for FAFSA detail. In this binder, maintain all the documents needed to upload or input and any necessary documents for follow up. Each stage of the application that says 'PRINT HERE' -- keep in this binder. This will help you to stay on task and maintain all follow ups. Remember, knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier it is to complete the application. Don't procrastinate, don't hesitate and don't allow it to intimidate. Just Do It!

Read more FAFSA Help and Tips from other students and parents who have been through the FAFSA process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Destiny for your FAFSA 101 tips for the unlearned. Everyone has to go through the learning process with FAFSA application for financial aid, and you’ve done a great job summarizing three important tips. Best of luck to you in college.

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More FAFSA 101 Tips

FAFSA | FAFSA Hints | Expected Family Contribution
| Dependent or Independent Student | Parental Income on FAFSA | FAFSA Official Website | Printable FAFSA Application | FAFSA Application PIN Number | FAFSA Application | FAFSA Deadline | FAFSA Correction | Student Aid Report

Submit your entry in our College Essay Contest:

To share your entry in our scholarship contest, just click here.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAFSA Help.


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