If you are preparing to send your child off to college within the next year, you may find yourself filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if and how much financial aid he or she is entitled to as a higher education student. Whether you have completed the FAFSA before or are thinking of starting the process for the first time, there are notable changes to the process and timeline of the 2024 application that you should be aware of. Here are answers to questions you may have about the FAFSA.
It’s the application you must complete to qualify to receive federal financial assistance for higher education. The FAFSA form collects financial information about a student and their family to determine eligibility for financial aid. In 2024, the questionnaire process is simplified because required federal tax information can be imported directly from the IRS. The forms to apply can be found at www.StudentAid.gov.
If your child wants access to federal loans or grants for the 2024-2025 school year, they need to complete a FAFSA application. It is important to note that all students should apply regardless of their family’s financial status, as some form of federal financial aid is available to most. The student also may be considered for merit-based scholarships or on-campus jobs.
If your child has never applied, they must create a Federal Student Aid ID to start the process. Also, all parents or spouses who will be contributors to the FAFSA application must create their own account. In the event you don’t have online access, you can call 1-800-433-3243 to receive a printed form.
Be sure to have:
The student’s information, such as date of birth, Social Security number, address and contact information.
Social Security numbers for the student’s parents or spouse.
Other identifying information such as driver’s license number (if you have one) or Alien Registration for non-U.S. citizens.
Tax return information for family members involved in the process (spouse, parents).
Information on cash, savings, and checking account balances.
Net worth information on investments, businesses, and properties.
The name of the college or career school your student is attending. If he or she is still in high school, you can list up to 20 schools that they are considering.
Within three to five days of completing the online application (seven to ten days for a paper application), you’ll receive a copy of the Student Aid Report that summarizes your student’s information. Check it for accuracy and make corrections if needed. This will provide a summary of your Expected Family Contribution, which determines eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant. Ultimately, the information is passed on to the schools you listed in your FAFSA form.
Given the late release of the application this year due to the changes made, the window to complete the FAFSA form has been reduced. First, check with the colleges to which your student has applied, as they often have different deadlines. If seeking state aid, check on their filing deadlines as well. The ultimate federal filing deadline is usually June 30, but if colleges or your state have an earlier deadline, that takes precedence.
Preparing to send a loved one to college can be an exciting but stressful time, both financially and personally. A financial advisor can help answer questions you may have as you navigate the milestones of preparing for higher education.
Publisher’s Note: The Veritas Scholars Academy Diploma Program aims to educate seniors during their college application process. Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) might be helpful, but only relates to a student once they are accepted into college and is not associated with VSA. By filing the FAFSA, new and returning students college students can access a variety of funding sources for college, such as grants, federal work-study, and loans. Some colleges also require a FAFSA on file for merit scholarships, but not all colleges require it. For more information about the FASFA, go to the official website.