It is FAFSA sm time!

Preparation is the key to filling out this important application for financial aid.

Preparation is the key to filling out this important application for financial aid. For those of you doing the application for the first time, the FAFSA sm website is extremely helpful and will give you detailed information on how to successfully fill out the form.

To make this job go smoothly it is important to have all the necessary documents. The application will ask you to use income information from the year prior to the school year you are applying for financial aid. As an example, if you are applying for financial aid for 2014-15 school year, you will need to use income tax information from 2013. As soon as you and/or your family has completed the 2013 income taxes, you can complete and submit the FAFSA sm application.

If you have questions as you complete the FAFSA sm application, help is at your fingertips. If you apply at “FAFSA on the web”, there is “Help and Hints” on the right hand side of the web page directly related to the question you are currently completing. You also have the opportunity to chat live with technical support by hitting the” help” icon. This assistance is avialable in English and Spanish. Another option is to contact the finacial aid office of the school you plan to attend or currently attend.

For first-time applicants, it is important to know what schools you are interested in attending. Most schools use the FAFSA sm to determine what finacial aid package they will offer you. The online application allows you to list up to ten schools and the paper application allows up to four. It is recommended that if you have an state school as one of your options to list them first. Typically by mid-spring, the schools you listed that have accepted you as a student will send you a letter or email with what type of financial aid they will provide you if you choose to attend their school.

Many people have shared that it is not worth filling out the FAFSA sm because they will not receive any funds due to their income. I encourage them regardless. Many scholarships use FAFSA sm to determine awardees, and often you are eligible for financial aid when you assumed otherwise. Also, finacial situations change and if this happens your opportunities for assistance will be easier to obtain if you have already filled out the application.

For more tips and suggestion on completeing the FAFSA sm application go to FinAid which has many useful suggestions on how to maximaze your options. Michigan State University Extension also has a helpful website- that will give you information on fiancial management to give you a great start as you move to the next chapter of your life.

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