If you’ve been busy applying for colleges and getting the ball rolling for financial aid, you’ve probably heard at least one person mention the “FAFSA.” What is this funny-sounding acronym all about anyway?
Here are all of the answers to your questions about how to fill out the FAFSA, FAFSA deadlines, and how FAFSA will help you afford your education.
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. When you are advised to complete your FAFSA, you are being advised to fill out the FAFSA application, which allows you to apply for federal financial aid (grants and loans). It is also used to apply for state grants and even aid through North Central University, or any other institution you might be considering.
Filling out the FAFSA is free—if you are on a website that charges you to complete it, you are not in the right place!
Why do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
Filling out the FAFSA is literally applying for free money from federal and state governments, as well from North Central. You not only need to fill out the FAFSA—you probably want to fill out the FAFSA! It also allows you to apply for federal student loans, which can be very helpful.
Why is FAFSA early this year?
The FAFSA is early this year in order to make it easier to complete. It all has to do with tax information. On the 2017–18 FAFSA, you will use your 2015 tax information.
Since you filed your 2015 taxes a while ago, you can complete your FAFSA now and find out how much financial aid you are eligible for sooner! This gives you plenty of time to make decisions about how to pay for college.
When is FAFSA due?
You should complete your FAFSA now (or as soon as possible) in order to find out your financial aid as soon as possible. We recommend that it is completed prior to May at the latest. Check the FAFSA website for other application deadlines.
How do I fill out my FAFSA well?
Here are a few tips for how you can fill out your FAFSA to ensure the best results:
- Sign up for your FSA ID before completing your FAFSA. The FSA ID is a username and password that allows you to electronically sign the FAFSA. It can take a few days to be approved, so sign up at fsaid.ed.gov a few days before completing your FAFSA. You and your parent will both need to sign up for separate FSA IDs.
- Set aside time to complete the FAFSA with your parent. The FAFSA takes about 30 minutes to complete if you have all of your information handy when you sit down to do it, and it’s easier if you set aside time to complete the FAFSA together.
- Have your paperwork ready. In addition to FSA IDs for you and your parent, you will need the following for you and your parents: social security number, 2015 federal income tax returns and W-2s, current bank statements and records of investments (if applicable), and records of untaxed income (if applicable).
- Use the Helps and Hints. If you get stuck while completing the FAFSA check out the “Helps and Hints” on the right hand side of the application for answers to commonly asked FAFSA-related questions. You can also call the NCU Financial Aid Office for personalized assistance at 612.343.4485.
How will FAFSA help me afford school?
FAFSA gives you access to free federal grants, state grants, and North Central scholarships/grants. This is money you receive to help pay for your college costs that does not have to be repaid.
FAFSA also gives you access to federal student loans. If you are planning to borrow money to pay for your college education you will want to start with these loans because they have low interest rates and do not require a cosigner.
Do I have to fill out FAFSA every year?
Yes, fill out the FAFSA every year to receive federal, state, and North Central aid. If you plan to pay all of your costs (tuition, room and board, etc.,) out-of-picket, then you do not have to fill out the FAFSA every year; however, to receive institutional aid from NCU completing the FAFSA is required every year.
Is the FAFSA form hard to complete?
It’s not hard, but (being candid) it is a lengthy form. The FAFSA has a lot of questions about your and your parents’ household and finances, but it is designed to ask only questions that are applicable to your family’s situation.
Sometimes the FASFA questions can be confusing. If you’re feeling stuck, the NCU Financial Aid staff is ready and willing to help you through the process. Feel free to call, email, or stop by with your questions and we will help make the process as easy as possible for you and your family!
Do my parents fill out the FAFSA for me?
No. You should complete the FAFSA with your parents’ assistance. The FAFSA has some questions directed to you and some questions directed to your parents. It is easiest if you are in the room to work through the application together.
Call it a family bonding experience, if you want to. Sit down with a bowl of popcorn and the FAFSA application. Should be a fun afternoon.
Any other tips for filling out the FAFSA application?
- Don’t forget to list which colleges and universities you are considering attending. Use North Central’s school code 002369 to add NCU to your FAFSA.
- Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when filling out your FAFSA will help the process go a lot faster. This tool allows you and your parents to transfer your tax return information from the IRS website back into your FAFSA.