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When do YOU fill out the FAFSA?


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After all our college tours and listening to Financial Aid directors, I had my mind set on completing the FAFSA on January 1. They all stressed the URGENCY in completing this as soon after January 1 as possible. Had me scared to death.

 

But do we REALLY have to complete this TODAY? Or can this wait until mid January?

 

We will not be in line for pell or other federal aid. So what's the hurry?

 

When do YOU fill out the FAFSA?

 

Blessings,

 

Brenda:001_smile:

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For my son's freshman year, I filled it out on January 1. I spent the week prior collecting and estimating all the info I needed to complete it. I completed the FAFSA with a "planning to file" tax return status since all the official paperwork I needed for our taxes wasn't in until the end of January.

 

Provided that you meet whatever filing deadline your school requires, I've read that the earlier filing date really only matters for some schools that have limited amounts of campus-issued aid like work study or Perkins Loans. And of course it would only matter for these if you think your student would qualify to receive any of these types of aid. All students automatically qualify for the Stafford loan (and the Pell Grant if your EFC is low enough) if they file the FAFSA, so the filing date doesn't matter for those.

 

After I finished the tax returns in early Feb, I went in and updated the FAFSA to "filed" status. For last year, my son's sophomore year, I just did the FAFSA once in mid-February since he was a returning student and the school's deadline for returning students was later anyway.

 

Best wishes to all those filling out these forms for the first time... a cup of tea & box of bonbons might help ease the stress!

 

HTH,

Brenda

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Different schools have different requirements.

 

Two of the schools to which my son applied required the CSS Profile by January 1. For schools requiring the FAFSA, I waited until after I had my tax return completed to file. As I recall, we submitted the FAFSA in mid-February.

 

That said, you can complete the FAFSA today with approximated figures, then update it in a month or two. Many colleges will want to see your tax return in order to finalize the award given. Be forewarned!

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The financial aid sessions I attended encouraged parents to complete their tax returns as early as was possible before filing the FAFSA, to prevent errors and 'guestimates' that would change the final financial aid package the student would receive.

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So. . . . . is the verdict to fill it out before we finish our tax return, or after?

 

My dh has been unemployed, but has some severance, a part-time job, other odds and ends. I'm not sure we'll have all our paperwork for another few weeks. And never mind getting all our self-employment stuff together. . . . . .:glare:

 

My inclination is to wait until we're done, which SHOULD be Feb. 1 at the latest. We make so little income - I think we're good on our EFC. (As in, should be a big fat ZERO)

 

Advice?

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My husband doesn't get his W2 until the end of Jan but by then we have all the other paperwork we need to file taxes so we do that first and then we have all the info for the FAFSA. By doing it that way we avoid having financial aid being changed because guestimate was wrong. We have never had it be a problem for our children getting financial aid. I do agree that it also depends on the college. Our children attend the same college and they want the FAFSA in by April 1 but they will tell you they award financial aid on a first come first serve basis so that's why we do it as soon as we can. We did do an estimated one the first year and our financial aid had to be adjusted. We lost some grants and ended up having to take Stanford loans. If we had had the right info, we would have been in a better position to avoid the Stanford loans. That's why we do taxes first now.

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Here is another way to do it. If you get paid in regular schedules and then pay your bills, do it right before the next paycheck. In our case, if we did it on Jan 1, we would have thousands of dollars more than normal since our landlord's check wouldn;t have been cashed yet, nor any of our regular bills been paid. If we wait till Jan. 13, our cash on hand will be probably 5000 dollars less.

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I wait until the last possible minute because I DREAD IT SO!

 

Funny! Me too.

 

I can't say if this is the case in general, but at ds's university the deadline doesn't really seem to matter. We have been so late due to some odd circumstances that ds had to go ahead and pay for a semester and then get reimbursed by financial aid. I understand that wouldn't be a workable situation for all. Try not to stress!

 

Mary

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