For Millennials, college is one of the clearest paths to long term financial security. At the same time, pursuing a degree can be a source of financial anxiety for many students and result in thousands of dollars of student debt.
Still, every year, millions of students are deterred from filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by the complexity of the application process, a lack of knowledge of the information needed, lack of digital access, or issues surrounding language and cultural barriers. As a result, billions of dollars in federal financial aid to offset the costs of college go unclaimed each year.
Key updates made to the FAFSA filing process have made it easier for students. The first is the open date, a new timeline that is designed to allow students to consider their financial aid packages in tandem with the college application process. Secondly, students can now use “prior-prior year” tax and income information to fill out their FAFSA, so they don’t have to wait, guess or update the form with this year’s tax information. Finally, the IRS data retrieval tool (DRT) eliminates much of the guessing game that daunts students by pre-filling the FAFSA with existing tax information automatically.
More students qualify for aid than think they do, but the FAFSA is the only mechanism to determine exactly how much, so you have to fill it out! This checklist has everything you need to successfully prepare fill out your FAFSA this year.