Get a Head Start on Your FAFSA: Things You Can Do Now
If you’re hoping to get financial aid when you head off to college next year, you probably already know you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). But do you know what you’ll need to get started?
You’ll need quite a few financial documents. So even though you can’t officially complete the FAFSA until January 1, 2012, it pays to start planning now. When it comes to financial aid, the more organized you are, the better off you’ll be.
So what information will you need to start your FAFSA?
As the student, you’ll need:
- Your social security card
- Your driver’s license number
- Your 2011 W2 forms
- Any other financial records that apply (investment accounts in your name, etc.)
- Your 2011 tax return (it’s easier to finish it before you apply. Otherwise, you’ll have to estimate your income and then return to complete the form after your return is completed)
If you are a dependent student (i.e. your parents will be claiming you on their tax return), you’ll also need their financial information. Documents you’ll need include:
- Your parents’ 2011 W2s
- Your parents’ 2011 tax return
- Records of untaxed income in 2011 (IRA deductions, child support, etc.)
- Mortgage information (both for your home and any businesses or rental properties your parents own)
- Current bank statements
Is there any way to get an estimate of how much financial aid you can expect before January 1, 2012?
Short answer? Yes. You can use FAFSA4Caster to get an estimate of how much financial aid you might be able to expect from the federal government.
Obviously, since you won’t have the most recent financial information available to you yet (since 2011 W2s won’t be available until January), the numbers you get will not be set in stone. But they should give you a good place to start, in terms of deciding how much other financial aid you need to seek out.
When should you complete the FAFSA for real?
Well, the deadline isn’t until June 30,2012. But generally speaking, the earlier you apply, the better. After all, the early bird gets the worm, as the saying goes…
By taking these steps, you’ll be well on your way to financial aid success when official FAFSA-filing season begins. For more helpful information about filling out the FAFSA and getting through the college admissions process with your sanity intact, subscribe to our blog today!