In the college world, it is not a four-letter word but a five-letter acronym that causes a universal cringe across the country. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is that acronym. This 130+ question form is a requirement to receive any kind of grant, scholarship or federal loan and it uses a formula to determine each family’s Expected Family Contribution or EFC. Given the importance of the FAFSA, it’s important to understand the basics.
The first important point to understand about the FAFSA is that it is wise to file the FAFSA as early and as accurately as possible. This is crucial because the FAFSA is available for submission on October 1st and aid is determined on a first come, first served basis each school year. The tax year that matters on the FAFSA is the year two years prior to the student’s freshman year of college. For example, an incoming college freshman in 2018 will need to utilize the 2016 tax return information.
It’s also important to note that retirement assets should not be included on the FAFSA. There are dozens of things to remember and pitfalls to avoid, hence the universal cringe when the acronym is mentioned. FAFSA!
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