PRESTONSBURG – New federal guidelines for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) allow for students and prospective students to file for financial aid beginning on October 1 for the 2017-18 academic year.
The new deadline was created to better align the FAFSA process with college admission season.
Jimmy Wright, dean of student services at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, said the new deadline will require applicants to submit income and tax information – from the student and parent and/or guardian (if applicable) – for 2015.
“It is important that students fill out their FAFSA as soon as possible for grants that are first-come, first-serve,” said Wright. This includes the College Access Program (CAP) grant, which provides up to $1,900 for eligible Kentucky residents.
BSCTC has financial aid staff available on all campuses to answer questions and help students and parents navigate the FAFSA process. The college offers 30 programs, more than 200 credentials and the state’s lowest tuition.
Here are seven things you need before filling out your FAFSA, according to the U.S. Department of Education:
1. Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID
An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites, including fafsa.gov.
Anyone who plans to fill out the 2017–18 FAFSA should create an FSA ID as soon as possible.
If you are required to provide parent information on your FAFSA, your parent should create an FSA ID too.
Because your FSA ID is equivalent to your signature, parents and students each need to create their own FSA IDs using separate email addresses. Parents should not create an FSA ID for their child and vice versa.
In some situations, you may need to wait up to three days to use your FSA ID after creating it. If you want to avoid FAFSA delays, create your FSA ID now.
2. Your Social Security Number
You can find the number on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it, and don’t know where it is, ask your parent or legal guardian or get a new or replacement Social Security card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but meet Federal Student Aid’s basic eligibility requirements, you’ll need your Alien Registration number.
3. Your driver’s license number
If you don’t have a driver’s license, then don’t worry about this step.
4. Your 2015 tax records
Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, you will be required to report income information from an earlier tax year.
On the 2017–18 FAFSA, you (and your parents, as appropriate) will report your 2015 income information, rather than your 2016 income information.
Since you’ll already have filed your 2015 taxes by the time the FAFSA launches, you’ll be able to import your tax information into the FAFSA right away using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. (No more logging back in to update after filing taxes.)
You do not have the option to report your 2016 tax information. We understand that for some families, 2015 income doesn’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you have experienced a loss in income since the 2015 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA with the info it asks for (2015), and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and document the change in income. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA.
You cannot update your 2017–18 FAFSA with your 2016 tax information after filing 2016 taxes. 2015 information is what’s required. No updates necessary; no updates allowed.
5. Records of your untaxed income
The FAFSA questions about untaxed income may or may not apply to you, but they include things like child support received, interest income, and veterans’ non-education benefits. On the 2017–18 FAFSA, you’ll report 2015 tax or calendar year information when asked these questions. Parents can find specific details here. Students can find details here.
6. Records of all your assets (money)
This includes savings and checking account balances, as well as investments such as stocks and bonds and real estate. You should report the current amounts as of the date you sign the FAFSA, rather than the 2015 tax year amounts.
7. List of the school(s) you are interested in attending
Two-thirds of precollege FAFSA applicants list only one school on their applications. For many, that could be a mistake.
Be sure to add any college you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. This is more important than ever now that the FAFSA is launching earlier. Even if there is only a slight chance you’ll apply to a college, add it to your FAFSA. You can always remove schools later if you decide not to apply, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on first come, first served financial aid.
The schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.
If you add a school to your FAFSA and later decide not to apply for admission to that school, that’s OK. The school likely won’t offer you aid until you’ve been accepted anyway.
You can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
For more information, contact Cathy Hurd-Crank, director of financial aid, at (606) 889-4967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.