Financial aid reminders
You can use the federal Financial Aid Toolkit to find answers to common questions, plan financial aid events and more. Below is a list of key information that students and their families need to know:
- Get an estimate – To get an estimate of an expected family contribution and eligibility for financial aid, students and parents may want to consider completing the FAFSA4CASTER. This tool has fewer questions than the actual FAFSA and doesn’t require personal information.
- Create a FSA ID – Students and parents should each create a FSA ID (instructions). This ID will be used to sign in to all federal financial aid-related websites.
- File taxes early – Students and parent may complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as January 1, or as soon as taxes are filed. If taxes are filed two to three weeks before completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), most families will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (see below) to complete the FAFSA application.
- Simplify the FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) – Students and parent(s) are encouraged to use the DRT to complete the FAFSA. This helps to make the application process easier and reduces common errors.
- Understand and prepare for verification – Verification requires the student and parent(s) to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit federal tax transcripts and other supporting information directly to the financial aid office for the purpose of verifying the information shared on the FAFSA. It is critically important to respond to schools’ requests for information as soon as possible in order to get an official financial aid award letter in a timely fashion.
- Find your “go-to” person – Colleges are big places, and the application and enrollment process can sometimes seem overwhelming. Students and parents are strongly encouraged to identify a go-to person at each college, someone you know you can go to for timely and honest answers to your particular questions.