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12 Tasty FAFSA Tips

Don't wait! File your FAFSA ASAP!

Why? Because delaying can cause your financial aid award to be late. FAFSA says they will send information to the colleges by the end of January or February. If you apply to FAFSA-only required schools, delays will occur. (FAFSA only schools include: most public colleges, including the University of California and Cal State, as well as some private colleges.) If you are applying to private or other schools that require the CSS:Profile, this may lessen the delay or cause the college to estimate.

FAFSA tips:

  1. There are step-by-step guides. Make sure it is for the 2024-2025 academic year. Sallie Mae

  2. Both student and one parent must create their own FSA ID. The parent ID is used for signing. Click here to create ID.

  3. Slow Down and fill out the form correctly. Parent and student name and spelling must match the information on the tax return. For this year, 2024, use the 2022 tax returns.

  4. Common mistakes: name (spelling, nickname), date of birth, address.

  5. The FAFSA requires only one parent to sign, ignore the "spouse" box unless instructed otherwise.

  6. Student ID is used to start the form and is linked to the student's Social Security Number. Do not use the parent FSA ID. It is only used when the parent signs the form.

  7. College lists, you don't have to have completed college applications. So list your colleges, then complete any college applications.

  8. Use Federal College Codes instead of college names to avoid any errors.

  9. List up to 20 colleges. With the current backlog you will not be able to add any colleges until late January or late February. Wait until you receive an email saying where the form has been sent.

  10. Browser: FAFSA may not support an older, slower computer. Use the latest release/version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome. Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari. Browsers supported.

  11. Use the Ask Aiden chat bot for information. The federal help line and help desk are overwhelmed and may not answer in a timely manner.

  12. Do not include the value of your home or primary residence. This is excluded from the calculation. Also excluded: Life insurance, retirement plans (401K, pension, or annuities.) See list here . Do include the value of a 529 Plan if the parents are the owner. The child is the beneficiary, not the owner. Remember, adult owned assets are assessed at 5.64%. Student assets are assessed at 20%

Why you should file the FAFSA?

  • Aid and Merit: many colleges won't calculate your financial aid or merit aid without a 2024 FAFSA. They are already late (usually available on Oct. 1). Due to the FAFSA revision and late roll out, colleges may not receive the FAFSA data until later January to end of February. The later the colleges receive the financial information the more delay there will be with merit or financial aid calculations. Colleges may estimate, then have to redo the aid package.

  • Reasons to file the FAFSA :

  • Availability of lower rate federal student loans or parent loans

  • What happens if we don't file for the first year:

    1. If a family skips the first year, then in later years, some colleges will reject the later FAFSA thinking you were trying to game the acceptance system by pretending you won't need any financial aid.

    2. Life changes: when income changes due to divorce, death, illness, job loss, or disability and he family did not file a FAFSA in the first year of college, the college may reject the FAFSA if they don't have the first year on record. When in doubt, fill it out.

    3. You can't appeal the amount of aid granted if the college does not have your financial information.

Please note: The Education Department made a mistake in the FAFSA calculations by leaving out the cost of inflation in their calculations. Because of this $1.8 Billion was taken off the table for Pell Grants. The word is that the "fix" will be implemented, but no date was given, this may cause further delays in financial aid awards.

I hope that your college application and decision making go smoothly. Take a breath. Your kid has until May 1, 2024 to decide which college to attend. (Of course this may be delayed, so keep an eye on the news!)

For details about the New FAFSA:

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