Education

Fear the FAFSA?

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FAFSANo worries – We can help!

Virtually every college student or parent knows about the FAFSA. In fact, some would argue that to know the FAFSA is to fear the FAFSA. But worry# not, here are some tips that will make completing this vital task almost easy.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This online form, available at# www.fafsa.ed.gov,# is used to determine the amount of money a student or family is expected to contribute to the price of attending college. The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, work study and loan amounts.# The FAFSA application is also critical because it is used for determining eligibility for Federal Pell Grants.

Any potential college student seeking financial aid needs to complete the FAFSA – and that includes Georgia students who are eligible for the HOPE Scholarship or Grant.

Financial aid deadlines, and there FAFSA deadlines, vary by college. Yet, the first and perhaps most important financial aid tip is to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible each year!# This year”s form is available online now.

Here”s some other tips from financial aid and scholarship experts to guide you through the process:

  • Have these documents and information on hand before you start:
    –Most recent year”s tax forms or end of year pay stubs
    –W-2 forms
    –Records of the most recent year”s untaxed income, such as child support and untaxed income from agencies such as Social Services, Social Security, and the Veteran Administration.
    –The student”s correct social security number
  • Read instructions and follow them carefully. Even if you have completed this form previously, revisions may have been made.
  • Do not leave blanks for any questions requiring a numeric figure, such as a dollar amount or a test score. If your answer to a question is zero, be sure to write “0”.
  • If you are a parent completing the form for your child, check that the social security number reported is the correct one for the student whose form you are completing. Incorrect social security numbers delay processing.
  • Check figures and calculations. Mistakes delay the processing of up to 40 percent of all forms processed.
  • The asset questions pertaining to net value are for secondary and investment real estate only. You are not required to report the net value of your primary residence.
  • Sign the FAFSA. Both the student and parent (if applicable) must sign and date.
  • You should file early for best consideration, and you must file a FAFSA every year.
  • Keep records of your FAFSA PIN and retain a printed copy of your electronic submission.

After your FAFSA is processed, you”ll receive a Student Air Report (SAR) that will summarize the information you”ve received, and see your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

You”ll also find a help section and FAQs available on the FAFSA site at www.fafsa.ed.gov.