It's that time again-- right up there with the joys of pulling all-nighters is the FAFSA adventure that you must do every year for the upcoming school year. Whether you're a freshman or an old pro at this, a few tips couldn't hurt to smooth the process:
As always, the Department of Education tells us that you need these things to complete the FAFSA:
-Your Social Security Number
-Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
-Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
-Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
-Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
-A Federal Student Aid PIN to sign electronically.
Your parents have to fill out this information as well if you are a dependent student.
A major change in the 2014-15 FAFSA for household information--in an announcement late last year, we are now aware that we can notify the DoE of parent's of the same sex, whether married or cohabiting. This will give the department a better idea of what financial aid resources each student needs. Regarding this change, the U.S. Secretary of Education Anne Duncan states,""We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "As students fill out their FAFSA this coming year, I'm thrilled they'll be able to do so in a way that is more fair and just." Essentially, as long as you live in a household with a marriage legally recognized by your state, the union will now also be recognized by the Department of Education.
While this could mean less financial aid for some who now have to claim another parent on their form, this also helps those who may need more financial aid due to only having one parent to help with costs-- now, there just may be more money available for them if all unions are recognized.
Filling out the FAFSA is similar to filing your taxes; each require your important financial information to be accurately reported. The recent changes in the FAFSA ensure that everyone will be doing so, no matter the circumstances. Maintain your records and take care to fill each box accurately, so that you will only have to worry about grades next year-- not how to pay for your classes.
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