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File That FAFSA: Get Prepped on Financial Aid!

File That FAFSA: Get Prepped on Financial Aid!

FAFSA applications go live October 1, 2017. All students applying for financial aid years 2018-2019, should be ready. Although this confusing application is still a few weeks away, it’s best to prepare now and avoid the headache.

WHAT IS FAFSA?

FAFSA is an acronym that means Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Federal student aid programs provide federal grants, loans, and work-study funds from the federal government to eligible students enrolled in a college or career school. The application goes live on October 1st of each year and is open until June 30th with corrections/updates made until September 15. The process follows a similar pattern each year, but may vary annually.

Who is eligible?

In order to file FAFSA for any academic school year students must comply with some requirements.

In order to be eligible for FAFSA students must:

*Be a citizen or eligible noncitizens of the United States.
*Have a valid Social Security Number. (Some students are exempt)
*Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling.

*Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
*Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
*Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
*Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Some students are exempt from this requirement)

* Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans). If you have such a conviction, you must complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to determine if you are eligible for aid or partially eligible for aid.

There are distinct cases that may require more information which may be accessed on https://fafsa.ed.gov.

How can I prepare for FAFSA completion annually?

Often, once it’s FAFSA season, college campuses host FAFSA completion workshops and events. For this reason, it’s important to keep up with campus events and activities. Similarly, community organizations and community colleges may also offer helpful events.

It’s imperative that students have their most up to date information: demographics social security number (if applicable), and the previous year’s tax returns can be used to complete the FAFSA application. If the previous year’s tax returns are used to send your application, once the updated tax returns are received, students must make corrections before the permitted deadline. State deadlines for sponsored grants also vary and make submitting FAFSA early a priority.

FAFSA season is stressful, but is important to make sure the necessary funding; whether through grants, loans or work-study. In addition, many scholarships require students to have FAFSA completed if students are awarded a scholarship fund. Make sure to plan accordingly, set reminders, sit down with advisors, and take a deep breath because this process is just as important as getting into college.

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About Lesly Guzman

Current college student at NEIU in Chicago, Illinois, future psychologist that serves the world. Self proclaimed Xicana and also feminist (an oh so controversial topic in today's world). I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child advocacy studies and plan to work with minority adolescents and children. Topics of importance to me range from inner city violence (present in Chicago), the importance of funding education (or lack of in my institution's case), to issues of identity, what it means to be a first generation college student, religion and culture, along with the utter most important topic of mental health. I challenge myself in my learning, in my views, and hope I may do the same in a positive manner for those I reach. I plan to help change the world one day, even if it takes a lifetime.

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