FAFSA 101: Everything You Need to Know

Are you overwhelmed with the college financial aid process?

Maybe you have heard of the FAFSA but just don’t know where to start. Don’t worryTransizion is here to help. 

Let’s dive right in. 

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is a financial form that the federal government uses to determine federal financial aid eligibility, including grants, scholarships, and loans. Colleges use the information reported on the FAFSA as part of your student’s financial portfolio. The questions will include information about annual income and assets and will eventually lead to an EFC or a Student Aid Index.

The student aid index is a brand new term and will be rolled out in 2022. Currently, families receive an EFC (and will continue to for the next year) which is your Expected Family Contribution or, how much money the federal government determines you can contribute to your child’s education. The formulas to compute the Student Aid Index will change slightly too and we encourage you to check back with us to continue to get the most up-to-date information on Financial Aid. 

The FAFSA is required by schools to determine need-based scholarships, so students should plan on filling out and submitting the FAFSA around October 1st the year before attending college. If your child plans on attending in Fall 2022, then you will complete the FAFSA in October of 2021. 

FAFSA Required Documents

Students will need help from their parents; families should plan and gather all the necessary documents to complete the FAFSA in a single sitting. Prepare a list of information and documents they should have handy, including:

  • Social security number
  • Federal income tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Current bank statements
  • Records of untaxed income (such as welfare benefits, Social Security, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
  • Records of any stocks, bonds, or other investments

You can apply for the FAFSA both online and through a paper application. For some interested families, you can link the FAFSA to the IRS website and have them download requested information automatically. 

There are ways to adjust your assets and income to make them more conducive for FAFSA filing, and we suggest meeting with one of our financial experts when your child is in their freshman or sophomore year to come up with a financial plan. 

To electronically file a FAFSA, parents, and students need to apply for an FSA pin. This is a safeguard to make sure that information is being filed correctly and with consent. 

It is also important to note that if your financial situation has changed dramatically since you filed the FAFSA, there are ways to submit appeals through your student’s university financial aid office. 

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When and How to File FAFSA

Students must file an updated FAFSA for each year they attend college, so planning and familiarizing yourself with this process is essential. There are very few cases where students can omit their parent’s information, so parents should plan on being an integral part of this process. 

Each University has a unique FAFSA submission code. You will enter this FAFSA Code specific to the schools you are applying to that way the schools will receive your financial information and create financial packages based on the forms you submit. You will notice that the FAFSA only has ten spots available, translating into ten schools. 

To each school you apply to you should also send the FAFSA information. If you are applying to more than ten schools it is possible to submit the FAFSA to all of them. Follow the steps below. 

  1. Start by making a list of the college’s deadlines and make sure that you are prioritizing the ten colleges with the first deadlines. 
  2. Complete and submit the FAFSA including the school codes of your first ten colleges. 
  3. Wait for an official email from FAFSA, you should receive this within a few days, including your SAR (student aid report), any extra steps or information they may require, and an EFC. 
  4. Once you receive this email you know that your FAFSA has been submitted and received by the schools you listed. We highly encourage you to double-check with each school as to not miss any important deadlines.  
  5. You can now log into your FAFSA, and edit your school information. We recommend that you delete all the schools that were listed and resubmit the new list, again, up to ten schools. 
  6. After you submit, you will receive an email confirming that your FAFSA submission has been processed. You have now sent the FAFSA to up to twenty schools. If for some reason your student has applied to more than twenty schools the process can be repeated. 
  7. We would like to stress that confirming the submission and reception of all application material is highly recommended. You can do this by check the individual University portals or calling admissions directly. Transizion is well equipped to walk you through this process. 

For your ease, we have also included links to our other blogs related to financial aid, scholarships, and loans below.

Transizion is represented by only the most updated experts in the field, so we welcome a meeting with our financial experts to help you prepare for this venture.

Scholarships 

https://www.transizion.com/finding-applying-college-scholarships/

Loans 

https://www.transizion.com/student-loans/

FAFSA

https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa

FSA ID Website 

https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm

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