Time to Start Thinking about Next Year’s Federal Financial Aid Back »

Image courtsey of the U.S. Office of Federal Student Aid.

Written by Carrie Johnson (former SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Specialist).


The Spring 2016 Spring Semester has just begun but it’s time to start thinking about financing your education for the next academic year. Whether you are a new student next fall or a returning student the first step to obtaining federal financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

It may seem early to start thinking about paying for next year’s college tuition, but schools typically have priority dates in February and March. To be eligible for certain types of aid you need to make sure to complete the FAFSA prior to that priority date. It is important to check with each school you are interested in attending to see what their priority date is.

Are you overwhelmed by just the thought of filling out the FAFSA? It has become very streamlined the past few years and takes about 30 minutes to complete. You do want to be prepared for the process. Below are a few things you will need prior to completing the FAFSA:

  • Department of Education PIN. You can get a PIN from the FSA website.
  • Social Security numbers for the student and parents (if you are a dependent student).
  • Driver’s license number
  • Federal tax return for 2015 for you and your parents (if you are a dependent student). If you have not filed taxes yet, you can put estimates in and change it later. School’s use the first submission date. If you are not required to file taxes, use the income on your W-2. If you have filed your taxes, you are able to link to the IRS to pre-fill the income information on your FAFSA.
  • Records of any untaxed income
  • Balances of checking, savings, and investment accounts as well as cash available

Make sure to keep all of your information handy in case you need it again. You may be chosen for a process called verification. If so, you will need to provide your information to the school that requests it.

Need help? Watch this video to learn how to fill out the FAFSA.

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