What you need to know for FAFSA season

When tax season arrives, college students and high school students expecting to enroll in the fall will need to focus on the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application will qualify you for federal grants and funding as well as lower-interest federal student loans and loans for parents. Here is a closer look at the basics of filing the FAFSA to help you avoid some common mistakes.

You should file a FAFSA every year

Even if you think that you will not qualify for aid, you should fill out your FAFSA. You may be eligible for more assistance than you think, and you do not have to accept all of the loans you qualify for. Other loan providers and scholarships may also require your FAFSA information, so there is no reason not to file. You should also note that your chosen college can affect your eligibility for aid. If your college has a higher tuition rate, the expected family contribution may be lower for you.

You should take your time and be prepared

You can fill out the FAFSA online, but you should be ready for an extensive application process with a fair amount of careful reading. Be sure to read every question thoroughly before answering and do not leave any fields blank. To streamline the process of filing, have a parent ready to answer questions and prepare all your financial information ahead of time.

You will want to apply early

You might encourage your parents to file their taxes as soon as possible because you will need to have filed before you can fill out your FAFSA. If you have filed your taxes electronically you should wait about 2-3 weeks after the filing date to get started on FAFSA paperwork. This will allow you to use the tax transfer option. Paper IRS tax returns can take as much as 6-12 weeks before you are able to begin preparing your FAFSA.

College Planners can help you successfully file your FAFSA and make important decisions about your higher education. To connect with College Planners of America, visit their website or call 630-971-2300.

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