An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Do your FAFSA early, guarantee yourself the maximum aid

If you are like me, you probably putting things off until the last minute and then enjoy the thrill of being pushed for time to get everything done on schedule. While that may work in many industries, with financial aid, it most certainly will not! The FAFSA is designed as an all encompassing application for all types of federal student aid. With that in mind, it would make sense that the earlier you submit your application the more aid you can qualify for. You may want to ask “But I thought the federal government had an infinite supply of money?”. While this may seem true based on your government’s free pocketed spending habits, there is most certainly a finite amount of money when it comes to federal student aid. Before you get depressed and resign your hopes of ever receiving aid, let me assure you, if you follow these 3 easy steps, you can qualify for the maximum financial assistance from the federal government.

Step 1: Apply Early! With the new FAFSA application coming on line in January of every new year, there is no reason to wait on submitting your FAFSA. You may also wish to wait until you have a completed tax return for that year. While this may seem illogical (since you need your tax information to complete the FAFSA), you actually have the option to submit the FAFSA without your tax information, then make a correction to your submitted FAFSA once you have filed your taxes. This way your application has already gone through to your dream school and they can begin to process your aid.

Step 2: Follow Up! With about 1/3 of students being selected for verification (a process that requires you to verify the information you submitted on your FAFSA is correct) there is a high probability that you will need to submit additional documentation to your school to complete your FAFSA application. When you do this, it is always important to verify that the documents have been received and that you have submitted ALL of the necessary forms with appropriate signatures. Also, always keep a copy of all submitted documents for your records.

Step 3: Accept Early! Once you get your award letter from your school with your financial aid package, make sure you make a decision and accept as early as possible. Many schools will award grants with limited supplies on a first come first served basis, so by turning this in as soon as possible, you guarantee yourself the maximum aid.

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