Filing Your FAFSA: What Happens if You’re Early? Late? Missed the Deadline?
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form has been open since October 1.
If you have not yet filed, it would be in your and your student’s best interests to have all your proverbial ducks in a row now, meaning, necessary paperwork, tax information, and ID numbers.
It’s important to keep in mind that your window of opportunity to get money will be getting smaller and smaller as the year progresses.
The official deadline for filling FAFSA is June 30th of the academic year for which you are applying, but don’t wait that long. By now you most likely know that colleges and universities use FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs, so it should be obvious that accuracy and preparation are key. And now, time is of the essence.
At first glance, the process might look intimidating and seem overwhelming, but once you gain an understanding of the form, you’ll realize it’s not as frightening as you think.
The FAFSA is available in several formats, including online, PDF, and paper versions.
According to fastweb.com, however, “The best option is to complete the web-based version at www.fafsa.ed.gov, known as FAFSA on the Web.
It includes step-by-step instructions for completing the online FAFSA as well as preapplication worksheets.
You can obtain a PIN to electronically sign the form by visiting www.pin.ed.gov.
If you have technical questions about using FAFSA on the Web, call 1-800-4-FED-AID.”
Before You File FAFSA
It is nigh-on impossible to approach the FAFSA form “cold.” That is, as we mentioned previously, prep work is crucial. In addition to the FAFSA ID, certain documents are required in order to successfully complete the process, and it can take some time to gather all of them together. Here’s what you will need:
- Your Social Security Number
- Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, however, many people prefer uploading that information manually, for accuracy’s sake. Another thing to keep in mind is that, information you transfer via the IRS DRT cannot be changed.
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- An FSA ID to sign electronically.
Note: You will need a FAFSA ID to gain access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems. It can also serve as your legal signature. Keep in mind that everyone applying for FAFSA will need a separate FAFSA ID, and you may not create one for someone other than yourself. You can click here to create your ID.
When Do I File FAFSA…and What If I Missed The Deadline??
The opening date for FAFSA submission is October 1 of the year before the college term starts. This article from CNBC outlines why, for certain families, waiting to file would be more beneficial, but common sense dictates that you should file as close to the opening date as possible because monies in certain states are dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis.
If that October “earliest date possible” has come and gone, you will then have to resign yourself to the fact that you may have missed the gate on certain funds.
There are 3 different deadlines for FAFSA: federal, state, and college deadline. The federal deadline is June 30th of the academic year for which you are applying. For example, the federal FAFSA deadline for the academic year 2018 – 2019, will be June 30th 2019. Many colleges and states have their own deadlines as well, so check with your school and you can check state deadlines here.
FAFSA deadlines for colleges may be earlier than either the state and federal deadlines. Most schools will list their priority deadlines on their financial aid pages or you can contact the aid office directly.
If you have flat-out missed your state’s or college’s deadline, whatever money there was to give, has already been given out, so in that case, you have not even entered the race.There are some states and schools that continue awarding aid to Johnny-come-latelys, but your chances get much slimmer, and you should expect that disbursement to be a lot smaller.
If you miss the end of June federal deadline, you’re no longer eligible to submit that year’s FAFSA form.
Dependent students who are filling out the FAFSA form will need to have to provide information regarding their parents. According to studentaid.ed, “A legal parent is your biological or adoptive parent or your legal parent as determined by the state (for example, if the parent is listed on your birth certificate).” Information about a stepparent who is married to the student’s legal parent must also be provided.
Final Note…Be Prepared For Next Year
Remember that the FAFSA form must be completed EVERY YEAR, so make sure it’s on your child’s and your own calendars so that you’ll be ready when that time rolls around again next year.
If you want to make sure your child doesn’t miss the FAFSA deadline in the future, it is important to be prepared. Keep your tax papers and other important documents in a file ready and waiting for when the new filing period opens in October 2019.
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