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December 28, 2010 > Student Aid applications due

Student Aid applications due

Submitted By Scott Anderson

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the all important financial application used by all colleges and universities across the United States. Its importance in determining actual out of pocket costs for college cannot be overstated. On January 1, the 2011/2012 FAFSA form will be available to file with the Department of Education. Every student who plans to be in college for the 2011/2012 year needs to file this form as quickly as possible.

Why is the FAFSA important? FAFSA is not only used by the government for eligibility for the Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, but it is also used by the colleges and universities to help determine a student's eligibility for various grants and scholarships. Many colleges and universities require the FAFSA even for non-need based sources of funds such as choral scholarships and academic awards.

When does it need to be filed? The earliest time you can file a FAFSA is January 1 of the year before the college year in question. If your student is starting college in the fall of 2011, then their FAFSA needs to be filed at the beginning of 2011. The critical deadlines for filing the FAFSA are dictated by the colleges' financial aid priority deadlines which can typically be found at the colleges' websites. Most colleges have financial aid priority deadlines which fall from February through April. Some colleges may be earlier. The bottom line is the financial aid priority deadlines most often come long before your taxes are due, so don't wait around to complete your taxes before filing the FAFSA. The FAFSA can be submitted with estimated tax information. You can always go back and update it later after the taxes are completed. But always make sure your FAFSA is filed before the financial aid priority deadline.

Who needs to file? For the majority of students, both the parents and the students will need to file information on the FAFSA. Each student going to college needs their own individual FAFSA form.

What information goes on the FAFSA? The FAFSA is going to ask for the parent's income and assets, the student's income and assets, and some basic demographic information. Most of the information you need can be taken from your most recent tax returns, bank statements, and investment statements.

How do I file the FAFSA? You can still file the FAFSA on a paper form which can be acquired through your high school guidance counselor or a college financial aid office. However, it is highly recommended to file using the online FAFSA form at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

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