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If you, or your student, are seeking financial aid for college, then the first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the ‘FAFSA’.

Take a moment to review these quick FAFSA tips for parents and students alike, when filling it out for the first time.

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fafsa tips for parents

Fill It Out

One of the biggest mistakes people make is skipping the FAFSA altogether.

Many students and parents think that you must have difficult financial circumstances to qualify. Income does play a role, but it isn’t the only one used to determine aid.

Other common factors include:

  • Number of Children in Family
  • How Many Siblings Are Currently Enrolled in College

You may qualify for FAFSA aid by checking some of these other boxes off. Take the time to fill out the FAFSA, because you could leave money on the table otherwise.

Fill Out The Correct Form

Make sure to only use the official FAFSA form.

All the documentation you need to use is found at fafsa.gov. Follow the prompts there to fill out your FAFSA for the correct year you’re attending college:

  • For example, if the 2018-2019 school year is your high school senior year, then make sure to complete the 2019-2020 request form.

It’s very important to select the correct year, because you will not qualify for aid, even if everything else is correctly completed. Also, you should not have to pay anything when filling out the FAFSA.

If you go to a website that says it needs your payment information for filing, then don’t trust it.

Act Immediately

Don’t wait too long to fill things out.

Many organizations that provide financial aid operate on a “first come, first serve” basis. They have only so many funds allotted to send out each year, and after that, they’re done.

That’s why it’s important to file your FAFSA as soon as possible, in order to get on the radar of agencies, foundations, and schools that provide funds. Go online to check out the FAFSA deadline information, and plan your filing from there.

Include All Schools Of Interest

Get around the FAFSA’s 10 school inclusion limit.

When filling out the FAFSA’s form, you’ll notice that it only allows you to add 10 schools of interest. If you’re interested in more schools than that, don’t worry. Submit your school choices in batches instead:

  • First, submit the form with the maximum 10 school choices.
  • Second, upon receiving your Student Aid Report (SAR), send all of that information to additional schools.
    • To do so, simply remove the submitted list and drop in the new choices.

However, note that if you change your FAFSA at a later time, any removed schools won’t automatically gain access to updates you make to your information. Keep that in mind, and think about what order you want to list your dream schools.

Don’t Give Up

The FAFSA process is time-consuming and difficult for first-time applicants but doesn’t mean you should give up.

It may sound silly, but completing the FAFSA or not can affect whether or not you ultimately attend college or university. According to the National College Access Network, 63% of high school students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to successfully attend college than those who don’t file.

Those numbers alone show how much impact FAFSA-assisted aid provides high school graduates. To make the process easier:

  • First, check out the official website and learn all that you can to make filing easier.
  • Second, set aside a designated weekend and use it to fill out and file your FAFSA form.

For more information and tips, check Prep Expert.

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