Ways to Maximize Your FAFSA Award

The biggest mistake that people make is not filling out the FAFSA or filling it out late. That makes no sense to me, but we were all raised in different homes… Abigail Hess did an excellent job of communicating the importance of completing the FAFSA application in a recent article. She asked experts in the college financial business about the things that keep people from taking advantage of money for college that is distributed by the federal government.

These days, 70 percent of the college graduates leave college with student debt. That translates into about 44 million young adults carrying more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. FAFSA funds more than 13 million college students, making it the largest provider of student financial aid in the country. It requires information from your most recent tax return, so you need to have completed your taxes before you complete your application for federal student aid.

When the FAFSA documents are submitted, they should be as complete and accurate as possible. If you don’t know the answer, still fill in the blank. It is better to be a little bit off with the numbers than fail to file the FAFSA on time. Always file it, meet the deadline and go back and submit edits it if you aren’t sure. Filing the forms should be done as soon as possible. A good reason to follow this advice is that application deadlines are not uniform across the country. Another good reason to get the forms turned in early is that filing sooner may mean you are able to secure more college aid. Federal aid is not distributed on a first-come-first-served basis but some states that use the FAFSA information do issue college aid in this manner. A study from Edvisors.com found that students who file the FAFSA in the first three months received more than double the grant money.

One more thing everyone should be aware of is the appeals process. Once the FAFSA is submitted, don’t hesitate to submit supplements and addendums. Things can change from October of one year to September of the next. A very real-life example of that is hurricane Harvey.

Get those FAFSA forms filled out, completely and right away. If you discover an error or something changes, just send the edits and get the funding that your tax dollars help support.

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