Most seniors will need to fill out the FAFSA form (FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and it is essential to meet the deadlines established by your colleges of choice to determine what amount of aid they can offer. There are some people who will automatically assume that they do not qualify for financial aid. However, it is important not to make assumptions and to read the fine print from the colleges carefully as there are some colleges that won't offer any financial packages (including merit scholarships) without having a FAFSA on file. Specific questions about each college's requirements and deadlines should be addressed to the financial aid offices at each respective college.
When you are completing the FAFSA application, please remember that this is a FREE application – you do not need to pay to have someone help you fill it out as there are plenty of opportunities to get free assistance to complete it if needed. You will also want to make sure that you are using the correct website – www.studentaid.gov – (do not use .com as that is a site that has a fee.) When filling out the FAFSA form, please pay attention to who they are asking for information about – the beginning of the form is all about the student and later it is about the parents.
Students who have questions about dependency status can use this information to help make that determination.
If parents are divorced, the form should be completed using information for the parent with whom the student lives the majority of the time. The FAFSA is completed based upon the “household” so anyone living in that household and under that roof is included in the FAFSA. So, for example, if a student’s parents are divorced and the student lives with their mom who is remarried, then the FAFSA application will include the information from their mom and their step-dad. This information page can help students and parents know who is the parent and whose information should be included in the FAFSA.
When completing the FAFSA forms you will need tax information for the student as well as the parents. Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA year (high school Class of 2017 graduates and beyond), the tax information used to fill out the FAFSA will be the taxes information from 2 years prior. So, for the 2017-18 FAFSA it will be based on the 2015 taxes. The FAFSA opens on October 1st and deadlines for submission will vary by college.