Don’t fear the FAFSA | Business
October brings cooler temperatures, visits to the local pumpkin patch, spooky movies, and unlimited Halloween candy. October also marks a frightening but important date for those planning to attend college for the 2021-2022 school year: the opening of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Do you have a student or high school student in your household, or are you a student yourself? If so, October 1 was an important date for those planning to go to college or who are currently enrolled in college. The FAFSA application for the 2021-2022 school year officially opened to applicants in early October. Students should prepare or start preparing for filing their FAFSA form as soon as possible. The FAFSA is an online application that allows students to apply for federal student assistance, such as grants, loans, and co-op programs. Students should apply as early as possible in order to be considered for grants and loans, as some school and public funds are limited and often awarded on a first come, first served basis. Even if you don’t think you qualify for federal assistance, you still need to file a FAFSA application as you may be eligible for loans that are not income-based. Additionally, some schools require students to apply for FAFSA Merit Aid.
Not so long ago, I was a student myself and submitted my FAFSA applications. It can be a blood-curdling task, but don’t let the process scare you. Start by gathering the required information and documents now, so you are ready. If you haven’t already, you will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) account at fafsa.gov. If you are dependent on another person’s tax return, your guardian will also need to create an account.
You will need your Social Security number and your 2019 tax records, such as your federal income tax return and your W-2s. If you have filed your 2019 federal income tax return, you may be able to import your tax information into your FAFSA claim using the IRS Data Recovery Tool, which has proven to be the more convenient option. simple when I submitted my requests. If applicable, you will also need bank statements and records of investments and untaxed income, such as child support or social benefits received. Parents of dependent students will also need to provide the above information.
As you can see, submitting the FAFSA application requires a lot of information regarding your personal and family finances. It can be overwhelming, but if you start putting together the necessary documents now, the task won’t be so overwhelming. In my experience, you can also contact your college to ask questions.
They were always more than happy to help me with the FAFSA application process.
Remember: you cannot trick-or-treat until your FAFSA request is complete. Don’t let October pass without filing or initiating the process of filing your FAFSA application or that of your dependent student.
Carlee H. Gibbs, CPA, is an accountant for Keller & Associates CPAs, PLLC.