Ready? Get Set.

by Brittany Cox
(Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)

Ready? On your marks. Get set. This is just another game. FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid - is only a game. The FAFSA should, by no means be taken as lightly as a game is, for the results are vastly more practical and lasting than the short lived victory of a mere game. However, the FAFSA is still a task to be completed with precision and diligence, and similar to an intriguing board game, stress free. Like any intricately written game worth the time to play FAFSA takes some time set up. Set aside an afternoon (with your parents if you are under the age of 24), maybe two. Like a puzzle spilled across a coffee table the FAFSA can be saved for later and will still be there after a break for gathering intel and strategy.


It is best to file the FAFSA as early in the new year as possible. Get ahead of the game. Many schools' financial aid award processes function on a “first come first serve” basis. Even though it seems disappointingly mature and “grown-up,” the last few days of winter break in January is the best time to do this. The sooner you have the FAFSA filed the sooner that information can be sifted through the levels of processing in your school's financial aid office which will result in higher priority consideration for financial aid; this way, should the need arise, you will also have plenty of time to work through the additional verification process without feeling like you are in a time crunch between all of the deadlines for the next fall semester.

You will need the most recently filed tax information, information from the taxes you have already filed for the new year, or information you estimate you will be filing later on. If you estimate, be sure to return later and validate or correct the pertinent information. The more accurate your FAFSA the better suited your aid. The FAFSA itself is simple and self explanatory but it does take time and patience. Put your game face on, turn on your favorite tunes, fix a delectable treat, be focused and diligent and get it done.

As impersonal and maybe uninviting as the concept of the FAFSA might feel at first, it is important to realize it is an efficient institution established by real people to help you in your real-world game of life. Tuition costs are higher than ever, and college degrees are becoming less of an option in today's working society. These two factors team together to make introducing dreams to reality harder than ever. So then perhaps, FAFSA is your allied teammate in the strategy of Financial Aid rather than the game itself. This may sound cliché or “cheesy” at first, but pause, breathe deep and realize if that's the case- the true game to be played and won is accomplishing your own life aspirations and goals.

Ready? On your marks. Get set.

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 Brittany for your entertaining essay about the game of FAFSA. I like your suggestion to work on the FAFSA during the last few days of winter break in January. That will ensure you are near the first in line for financial aid funds. Good luck to you.

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More Tips on Filling out 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

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Getting Through FAFSA

by Lauren Whitmore

Filling out the FAFSA can be a tedious process because there are many things that need to be done. Not only is it the student’s responsibility to make sure they are doing their part, but parents also have to make sure that their information is accurate.

I know that from personal experience, it is better to do the FAFSA early, so that if changes have to be made, the issues can be addressed in a timely matter. Depending on what school you choose to go to, the financial aid office can be slow at getting back to you, so it is important that you meet your deadlines.

Since I was away at school, I could only fill out the information that I knew. There was a lot of going back and forth with me and my parents to make sure the information was right. My parents also had to do their job and get the information that was needed.

Some advice that I would give would first be to do the best you can during the school year to get the most money you can. The higher your GPA is, the more money you may be able to receive.

Another piece of advice is to not wait until the last minute to get all necessary information needed. If there is an issue, and you need certain things, get that taken care of right away so that it does not slow down the process of you receiving financial aid.

I would also advise you to continue to remind your parent(s) about their obligation to do their part on the FAFSA. Parents have busy schedules just like students, and they forget things sometimes, so by helping to make sure they remember will help you get your financial aid on time.

Read more tips on filling out the FAFSA 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 Lauren for sharing your tips on filling out the FAFSA. You offer some good advice to get your financial aid on time. For most families completing the FAFSA Is a joint effort, it can be more challenging when the student is away at school. Best of luck.

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More Tips on Filling out 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.


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