Start your FAFSA

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Answering questions about why, where, and when you need to fill out the FAFSA.

As the new school year kicks off, most high school seniors are delving into their final year before college. It can be an exciting time preparing for the next adventure in life.

If you’re preparing for college, you’ll want to understand everything that surrounds the FAFSA application process.

What is the FAFSA? Why should I apply?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s your first step as a high school student to apply for financial aid for college. And who doesn’t want help easing the cost of college?

When do I apply?

If you plan to attend college next year, now is the time — literally, right now — to apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA. Thanks to a few recent improvements in the FAFSA process, you can start the application sooner than ever as the new FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year is available starting October 1, 2016. That’s a three-month head start on previous years’ January 1 start date.

What do I need to apply?

So now that you know what the FAFSA is, why it’s important and when to apply, here’s a look at what you will need to complete the application:

  • Your Social Security number
  • If not a U.S. citizen, your Alien Registration number
  • Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and any other records of money earned
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • A FSA ID to sign electronically

Another improvement to the FAFSA this year: families can now import their federal tax return information into their FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This not only helps expedite tedious data entry, but it decreases typos and other errors, as well.

Where do I go to apply?

Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete your application. For each upcoming year that you plan to go to college, you should complete the FAFSA during the application window; for current high school seniors (class of 2017) that means between now and June 30, 2017. For the high school class of 2018, that means October 1, 2017 until June 30, 2018.

For more information regarding FAFSA and how to pay for college, check out this video. Best of luck on a new school year!

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