Mastering the FAFSA!

by Nyia Bentley
(Detroit, Michigan, USA)


The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) could be a bumpy road to travel upon because it is confusing for first generation students. Do not fret though, as you read on you will notice the burdens slowly lifting from your shoulders and your FAFSA gradually coming to an end.


Steps to MASTERING the FAFSA:

(1) Do not believe that a colleges financial aid office has your best interest at mind when offering you funds, instead view the process as a consultation or negotiation. Colleges love to consider the least amount of financial aid students and parents will accept before deciding not to attend the school.

(2) File for financial aid as early as possible! This tip may seem a bit cliche, but it is extremely important if you hope to get the most out of the FAFSA as you can. For parents, this step could be difficult because in order to fill out the FAFSA correctly parents must address questions regarding their tax returns. It is possible to estimate earnings based on previous returns but be sure to do so as accurately as possible.

(3) Decrease the amount of money or assets that the student has in his/her name. This will reduce the amount of money that the student reports on his/her application. Also, certain types of assets could reduce eligibility. Getting tips from a tax adviser could help get rid of problems that could potentially reduce the students eligibility.

(4) The FAFSA is pretty straight forward, as long as the student and parent fills out the information correctly and review the information before submitting the application everything should turn out quite fine.

With these tips, along with answers to frequently asked questions about the FAFSA, students should see a great change in their ability to fill out the FAFSA efficiently and accurately.

Read more tips for mastering the FAFSA from other students and parents who have been through the FAFSA process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Nyia for sharing your tips for mastering the FAFSA. Filing the FAFSA early is very important as you mention, so you can address any questions and be first in line for financial aid. Good luck to you.

FAFSA | Scholarships for Minorities | Scholarships for College | Easy Scholarships | College Scholarships for Women | Oddball Scholarships | Scholarships for High School Seniors | Scholarship Contests | Scholarship Money for College | Wacky Scholarships



More Tips on Mastering the 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

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 Hints.

First Generation College Students

by Kierra Jones-Williams
(Indianapolis)

Me Myself and I - This is for all the individuals who are first generation college students who have no idea where to start the financial aid process for college. I was once in your shoes, scared to death about going to college and not knowing how to complete my FAFSA.

I come from a low income neighborhood so there was no one to help or guide me through the FAFSA Application, I had to learn how to fill this hard but now easy application out all by myself.

Luckily for you, you have me to give you a few tips about filling out your FAFSA and how to get the most money for college. First things first, if you come to a website that says "pay us to fill out your FAFSA for you", immediately leave that site. FAFSA is a free application so do not let those websites fool you into paying for their service. The official website is www.fasfa.org and it will state "fill out your free application here". That is the site that you want to stay on.

Next, make sure that you have an updated email account because everything will be sent there. You will have to first apply for a 4 digit pin which will and is your life support for the next four years of college. This FAFSA PIN Number will be the way you sign your signature on forms, update information, etc. Remember that PIN and don’t FORGET IT. Never let anyone know your PIN because that PIN is like your social security number, if it gets in the wrong hands, it can be damning.

Another hint, if you were or still in foster care please do not be embarrassed to put it on the FAFSA. Being in foster care will give you more money for college. Another thing to note is that when it comes to assets and parent income- DO NOT add it to your FAFSA. Adding your parents information to the FAFSA will decrease the amount of money you will receive. Always make sure that you are independent and not dependent for Federal Student Financial Aid .

Give your self enough time to complete the FAFSA, because your application will not be accepted if it has errors on it. Finally breathe and prepare your self to complete the FAFSA. Make sure you read everything and print off the items they tell you to print and keep for your records. Following these hints will help you complete the FAFSA Application in a breeze. Good luck!

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



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Kierra for your tips on FAFSA for first generation college students. You give some good advice. There are some very specific criteria whether you are a dependent or independent student for FAFSA purposes, so check it out at Are You Independent or Dependent Student for Federal Student Financial Aid. Best of luck to you.

Scholarships for Minorities | Gates Millenium Scholarship | Scholarships for College | Easy Scholarships | College Scholarships for Women | Oddball Scholarships | Scholarships for High School Seniors | Scholarship Contests | Scholarship Money for College | Wacky Scholarships




More FAFSA Advice for First Generation College Students

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

Submit your essay in our College Essay Contest:

FAFSA Hints | Scholarships and Grants for College | Paying off Student Loans | Scholarship Essay Samples | Other College Financial Aid Advice



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

No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it..

by Kristin Richardson
(Louisville, KY)

I graduated with my Bachelor in Science of Nursing a little over a year ago and I am now beginning my journey as a graduate student and I find myself back in the same confused and frustrated state I was in 6 years ago as a senior in high school trying to find aid for college .

I am a first generation college graduate. I come from a very underprivileged family where I learned the concept of hard work very early in life. I knew that I wanted to go to college all through life, however because of the environment that I was in, I didn't think that it was a possibility.

I went to a low-income high school where advancement in education was the least of our counselor's concerns. There was no guidance or information given about college in general, let alone about how to fund it. I was fortunate enough to get selected for a college prep program called Governor's Scholars.

It was that summer before my senior year that I had my first glimpse of college as a reality. Once returning back to school I immediately started applying to colleges. I had no clue where I was going to get the money from to pay for it, but I decided I would apply first, worry later. My first acceptance letter came in September and on that letter there was something mentioned about FAFSA at the bottom. I had no clue what it was so I researched it. Come to find out it was FREE MONEY! It was very hectic applying for pin numbers, retrieving my parent’s information and filling out the application the right way.

My advice to a prospective college student would be to apply early. Have all of your information and PIN numbers ready prior to February 1. That way all that you need to do is insert the information on your parent’s tax returns. If you have difficult parents, like myself, who do not understand why you have the burning desire to go to college, then I would advise you to be the first to check the mail each day. It is known that W-2's come around the end of January, so I would be the first to get hold of them. You do not have to have filled your taxes prior to completing the FAFSA; you just have to have the numbers from their W-2 to submit it.

I wish that I could tell you that each year it gets easier to fill it out, but it doesn't. Sure your information is already on file therefore you will not have to retype everything or apply for a new pin number, but its still as stressful worrying about how much money you will receive, or what your EFC will be. My best advice for you when applying for FAFSA would be to write all of your information down and keep it in a safe file that you will always know where it is. Because my parents made so little money, my school asked to audit me every year and I needed to turn in their W-2's in order to prove that I provided accurate information. Also, keeping your parents social security number, birthday and PIN number on hand is very helpful when you are reapplying for FAFSA.

It is best not to give up at any time either. I wish I could provide my account summaries for every term of school I was in, because I could be living proof that if you continue to apply for scholarships throughout your college career you will be surprised how much money you can receive. You should never think that you only have to apply for scholarships your senior year of high school and then never again. Every semester I received different scholarships in very different monetary values. You would be surprised how all the little $500 and $1,000 scholarships add up. I am a prime example. I am starting graduate school and I am still applying for scholarships. No scholarship is unworthy of being applied to. There will be several that you apply for and do not receive, but when you finally get the award letter for one, the feeling is amazing! I was fortunate enough to make it through college without having to take out a single student loan. It is possible, you just have to be determined and a hard worker. Don't give up!

Good luck! You can do it!



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Kristin for sharing your story about how you learned about the FAFSA. I’m glad you researched it and made the process work for you. Some parents are not very supportive of their children going to college, and the student will need to take the lead in completing the FAFSA.

If you can find a free FAFSA workshop in your area, that might be a good way to involve your parents and get help filling out your FAFSA. For low income families, the information from the W-2 may be sufficient.

Check out our tips on the FAFSA process on the links below. Good luck.



Tips on FAFSA Process

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

Submit your essay in our College Essay Contest:

FAFSA Hints | Scholarships and Grants for College | Paying off Student Loans | Scholarship Essay Samples | Other College Financial Aid Advice


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


Welcome!

Welcome to College Financial Aid Advice, a website full of information on scholarships and grants, student loans, and other ways to save money at college.


Important Things to Do

Class of 2017 Scholarships - High school seniors should start their scholarship and college search now. See our list of Scholarships for High School Seniors

FAFSA - The official 2017 - 2018 FAFSA is available now. See information about FAFSA.


College Financial Aid Tips

Scholarship Lists An overview of the different types of Scholarship Money for College.

Grants Learn more about grants, the other free money for college.

Need Tuition Help? Reduce the cost of tuition with these college Tuition Assistance Programs.

Tax Credit Claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

College Savings Plans Save money for college with these College Savings Plans.

Need a Student Loan? Yes, you qualify for these college Student Loans.


Popular Scholarship Searches

Scholarships for High School Students

Scholarships for College Students

Easy Scholarships

Scholarship Contests

Weird Unknown Scholarships

Merit Based Scholarships

Scholarships for Minorities

College Scholarships for Women