Filling out the FAFSA form is one of the best things you can do when you are looking for financial assistance for your college education. Unfortunately, every year, students keep making the same mistakes, which results in them losing out on money that they could have had access to. These tips will help you maximize the benefits you get from the FAFSA.
Tip#1 – Start Filling the Form Early
Filling out the form can be time-consuming. If you start the process at the eleventh hour, you’ll find yourself rushing against the clock and are more likely to enter in wrong details or submit an incomplete application, both of which will impact the amount of financial aid you are awarded.
Getting started early is the first step towards finding of all of the benefits of the FAFSA. When you start early, you will have ample time to go through the form thoroughly, understand how it works, determine what details you are expected to provide, and keep all of those details handy so you are not scrambling last minute to find some forgotten information.
Most importantly, you will be able to get an early estimate on how much federal aid you can expect to receive. Armed with this crucial bit of information in advance, you will have sufficient time to explore other financial assistance avenues to determine how you will make up for the shortfall.
Tip #2 – Submit Your Completed FAFSA Form Early
FAFSA forms are accepted between January 1st and June 30th of the application year. While that seems like a comfortably large window, don’t be tempted to put it off for a later time. Aim to complete your application and submit it closer to the 1st of January.
This is because most colleges offer financial aid on a first-come first-served basis so the earlier you submit the form, the better your chances of being awarded the maximum amount you qualify for, whether it is in terms of grants, loans or any other type of financial aid.
Tip #3 – Fill Out The Online Application Rather Than The Paper Form
There are two main advantages to filling out the online FAFSA form. Firstly it is easier to correct any mistakes or make whatever changes you need to the online form. Understandably, this would be much more difficult if you fill out the paper application.
Secondly, when you submit the online form, it will reach its destination within seconds as opposed to the paper application, which could take days via traditional mail. The earlier your application is received, the earlier it will get processed and the earlier you will receive your Student Aid Report.
The Student Aid Report or SAR explains in details what types of financial aid you are eligible to receive. Getting this information early is very useful as it gives you plenty of time to work on your financial planning and other aspects of your financial aid.
These three tips may not sound incredibly extraordinary but sometimes it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. There are several other tips that will help you make the most of your FAFSA application but these three will get you off to a great start.
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