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Do you know the priority filing date of the FAFSA for YOUR college?
The FAFSA is the very first step in getting more financial aid for college!
It’s FAFSA time! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form is now available on the Fafsa.ed.gov website. High school seniors to college grad students ALL need to fill out and submit this important financial aid form. The dilemma comes when there are so many different due dates to keep in mind:
- Federal FAFSA due dates
- State FAFSA due dates
- Individual college FAFSA due dates
- Federal IRS taxes due date
So many due dates, but WHEN is the best time to file the FAFSA? College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, spells out exactly what parents and students need to do in order to NOT miss any important FAFSA due dates in her latest article. I cannot stress enough the importance of meeting each deadline and filing the FAFSA as early as possible.
For college scholarships, filing the form is also critical, as many organizations offering scholarship money want to know if and when a FAFSA was filed by their applicants. Read Wendy’s article and get that FASFA filed!
UPDATE: AS OF 2016, THE FAFSA OPENS FOR FILING IN OCTOBER OF EACH YEAR.
HOW TO BEAT THE FAFSA DEADLINE DILEMMA
Those looking for help to pay for college but haven’t completed their tax returns and FAFSA face a deadline dilemma because many financial aid programs award qualifying early filers first. When the money runs out, there may be none left for otherwise qualified later applicants. Conflicting deadlines and lack of information can seem to conspire against FAFSA filers who haven’t submitted their tax forms. There is only one way to beat this problem.
The federal Department of Education released the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2015-16 school year, its application to file for financial aid, January 1 and it requires tax information. However, the federal IRS tax forms aren’t due until April 15 and colleges set their own FAFSA due dates. It may be weeks after the beginning of the new year before employees and investors receive tax documents containing info necessary to calculate taxes. If the college-bound and their parents wait too long to file the FAFSA, they may miss January, February, or March college deadlines and a chance to get their share of aid awarded to the early birds first.
The FAFSA is the only form the federal government wants to determine student eligibility for free money grants, loans that must be paid back, and an earned paycheck from the federal Work/Study program. It is also the prerequisite to file for state aid programs. Many outside scholarships and colleges want to review the FAFSA before making an award from their own funds.
The only way to beat the FAFSA deadline dilemma is to estimate. Questions on the FAFSA even ask whether or not the applicant has filed, will file, or is not going to file tax returns. If 2014 income is about the same as the previous year, estimate based on 2013 numbers. When income has changed drastically since last year’s tax return, use the “Income Estimator” on the FAFSA page that asks for income information. The Income Estimator will help estimate adjusted gross income (AGI).
After taxes are filed, be prepared to log back into the FAFSA and correct any estimated information that was wrong. Also, switch the answer from “will file” to “filed” tax returns. Make “Don’t wait, estimate” a FAFSA mantra to beat the FAFSA deadline dilemma.
Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
Her method of helping students in finding college scholarships, writing unique and compelling scholarship essays, creating amazing scholarship application packets and more, have taught desperate parents to help their own students win thousands of scholarship dollars.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.