Site Search Careers Explore Schools Schools Examinations College Organizer Schools Finance Financial Aid Schools Job Info Admissions Tests Nurse Admissions Essays Listings Research Schools Careers Admission Center Schools Examinations Community Colleges Schools Finance Art Schools Schools FAQs Business Schools Schools Job Info UnderGrad Schools
Anatomy Top Schools/School Rankings Law Schools Nurse Architecture Schools Listings Medical Schools Careers Online Schools Schools Examinations Graduate Schools Schools Finance Sports Schools



When should I pick up the FAFSA form and when should I submit it?

FAFSA forms are generally available at your counseling or career center in late November or in early December. Pick them up as soon as possible so that you and your parents can become familiar with what is required.

Because you and your parents must provide income tax information through December 31st, you cannot submit the FAFSA earlier than January 1st. The submission period for sending the FAFSA is from January 1st to March 2nd of each year for aid for the following school year. P> Some colleges or programs may want your FAFSA to be submitted at an earlier time. Check financial aid information from each of your target colleges to determine when you should be sending in this form! If you complete and send the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st, it can start the wheels turning more quickly as colleges begin to determine how they will allocate financial aid packages. The colleges use information provided by the government to decide how to disperse federal funds made available to them. The sooner you submit your FAFSA , the more likely you might be (if you are eligible) to be awarded a share of that limited pool of aid.

What kind of family information is required by the federal government on the FAFSA?

The questions asked of your family on the FAFSA form covers information the government needs in order to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Some of the basic questions asked on the FAFSA include:

  • Your parents' income for the 1996 tax year, including salary and wages, pensions, dividends, interest, Aid to Families with Dependent Children payments, unemployment payments, and Social Security benefits.
  • Your income for the 1996 tax year, including all of the sources of income listed above.
  • 1996 taxes for both you and your parents.
  • Family assets and your assets, including checking account balances, savings, stocks, bonds, real estate investments, business ownership, corporate farms, and trusts. Home and farm equity are not considered as assets for federal and state aid (generally). Many independent colleges do consider home and farm equity as assets in determining your EFC and will ask for this information in supplemental forms such as the Financial Aid Profile (CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE). Remember to check all of your target colleges to see if they require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE in addition to the FAFSA.
  • Your parent's age and their need for a retirement income.
  • The number of children and other dependents in the family household.
  • The number of family members in college.
  • Your status as dependent (on parents) or independent student.
  • BE AWARE that when your parents sign the FAFSA form, they are stating that the information contained in that form is accurate and true! They are also agreeing that if asked, they will submit proof of that information. This proof is generally copies of federal, state and local income tax returns. If your parents decline to provide this material, your application for aid can be denied. Do not send these documents with the FAFSA. Many schools will ask for these documents but they will let you know when they would like them.

How can we be sure these complicated forms are filled out accurately and completely?

By following a series of simple steps parents should be able to ensure that the FAFSA forms will be ready for evaluation by the government processors. Parents, be aware of these tips!!

  • Have all of your parent's financial records on hand before you even think of starting on the form!
  • Make sure that the name(s) used on the form match the name(s) used on your social security card.
  • Make a copy of the form that you can use as a worksheet to fill in information as a test run.
  • Read all instructions carefully in order to avoid errors. The form comes with detailed instructions for each question.
  • After filling in the practice form, transfer all the data onto the original using a # 2 pencil.
  • Complete only those sections you are required to complete.
  • Print neatly so that the application can be easily read.
  • Do not cross out anything . If you make a mistake on the original, make sure you erase completely.
  • Round off dollar figures to the nearest dollar.
  • Write in only the spaces provided.
  • Don't include attachments on the FAFSA; they will be thrown away. If there are any special circumstances about your family situation, send a letter to each college financial aid office to explain.
  • Fill in every blank unless instructed to do otherwise. If you or your parents leave a blank, the Federal Central Processor (FCP) and the colleges may think the data has been mistakenly left out. Enter a "0" or an "X" to indicate that the question has been considered and no answer is appropriate.
  • When writing dates, use numbers. (2/12/96 for example)
  • Make sure you sign the forms.
  • Double check all responses for accuracy.
  • Make a copy of the completed form for your records.
  • Send the original, completed form in the envelope provided.

Don't enclose anything else other than the application itself. If there are special considerations about your family's financial situation, you should submit a written explanation of those considerations directly to the college financial aid offices!!

What else do I need to know?

  • Answer all questions about citizenship carefully. The FAFSA is automatically sent to the U.S. Dept. of Education to verify your citizenship. LI>List all colleges and programs that you want to receive information from your FAFSA form. You can add other colleges later on through the Student Aid Report (SAR), but it is easier to do it with the FAFSA if possible.
  • Your FAFSA form is automatically submitted to the federal government for Pell Grant consideration. Be sure all information about finances is accurate and up to date to ensure that your need will be correctly evaluated for a Pell grant. Many state colleges you list to receive the FAFSA analysis will also use your information in determining if you qualify for state grants or aid.
  • You and at least one parent or guardian must sign the FAFSA form, otherwise it is considered invalid and it will not be processed!
  • Keep a copy of your FAFSA form in your files. This first form is only good for applying for federal aid for one year.. However, the Federal Central Processor (FCP) will send you a new FAFSA form each year which will have much of the original information preprinted on it. You and your parents will only have to enter information that has changed over the course of the year. Keep copies of all FAFSA forms so you can refer to them as you fill out each subsequent FAFSA form.
  • When you mail your FAFSA form, be sure you get a certificate of mailing from the Post Office as a receipt that proves you sent the forms by the deadline.

Where do I send the FAFSA form once it has been completed?

You will be sending your FAFSA off to the federal government Federal Central Processor (FCP). The Central Processor, a federal computing center, calculates an initial estimate of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for one academic year. They use the "Federal Methodology" to perform the need analysis and decide on your EFC. The EFC is the basis for determining federal and state awards and college-based financial aid. The Central Processor will send reports outlining your EFC information to the colleges you designated on your FAFSA form and to you.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA?


After you submit your FAFSA, you simply need to wait for the Student Aid Report (SAR) that will be sent to you by the Federal Central Processor (FCP). Usually, within 3-5 weeks you will receive the SAR, documenting their evaluation and your EFC.

If my family is relatively well to do, should we bother to submit a FAFSA form?


Yes. Just because your family has some resources for college does not mean that you have no chance to qualify for federal, state or college-based loans. Take the time to fill out the forms--it is worth the time if you qualify for some form of aid! Qualifying for aid is dependant on a variety of circumstances: family income, your income, and the actual costs of a particular college you may be applying to. So, regardless of what you think the outcome might be, let the Need Analysis Processor and the Federal Central Processor (FCP) crunch the numbers and see what happens! The worst that could happen is that you do not qualify for federal need based aid. In any case, you will have started the process of pursuing non-need based loans and other options that could help defray the cost of college.

(Rosen, Rochelle, S. College in California: The Inside Track)

Who should I contact if I have questions about the FAFSA process?


You can call the Processing center for FAFSA. To find out if your FAFSA has been processed or to request a duplicate of your Student Aid Report (SAR),

  • call: 1 (319) 337-5665 or
  • for the hearing impaired call: 1 (800) 730-8913

    Another option would be to call the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

  • Call: 1 (800) 433-3243