Falling for FAFSA: Early bird gets the aid – Napkin Finance

Falling for FAFSA
Early bird gets the aid

September 24, 2020

October is just around the corner. In addition to pumpkin spice lattes, that means it’s time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which officially opens on October 1 for the 2021-22 school year.

Although it’s hard enough to plan for next week—let alone next year—in the era of covid, filling out the FAFSA early is important to make sure you don’t miss out on potential aid opportunities. Schools use the FAFSA to determine how much you and your family can afford to pay, as well as to award aid such as grants, work-study placements, and loan options. Some colleges and universities award aid on a rolling basis, which means students who apply early have the best shot at that holy grail: free money.

Here’s what you’ll need to apply:

  • Your full address, birthdate, Social Security Number or or Alien Registration Number if you’re not a U.S. citizen
  • Your dependency status—i.e., whether your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes or whether you file your own?
  • Your financial information, or your parents’ information if you’re a dependent
  • The code(s) for the school you currently attend or any schools you’re applying to

High school seniors who haven’t been accepted to any schools yet should also get cracking on the form. Don’t count yourself out if your family is well-off, either. You may get more assistance than you expect, but you have to apply to qualify.

Learn more

Other ways to pay

  • Once you’ve submitted your application, find out what types of scholarships your school offers. Some may be awarded automatically based on merit, but others may require an application.
  • If you’re in high school, ask a guidance counselor about scholarship opportunities for seniors and find out whether any local organizations offer academic awards.
  • If businesses are open in your area, consider a part-time job. Even a couple shifts per week can add up and help you cover books and school supplies.
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