February: Financial Aid Awareness Month
Yep, February claims Groundhog’s Day, Black History Month, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.
While you probably thought that was enough to fill such a short month, there’s one very important celebration that takes place all month long that you likely overlooked.
But, Coastal Title Loans & Finance, LLC (CTLF), it’s one of our favorites!
February is also Financial Aid Awareness Month. It’s clearly the perfect time to celebrate by completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, learn some more about financial aid and how to score more of it in the meantime.
And, if all else fails, have no fear, CTLF’s here to help – especially during this month of celebration.
In honor of Financial Aid Awareness Month and, of course, in hopes of improving your chances of getting approved for financial aid, we have compiled a list of tips and common mistakes to avoid, straight from National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
According to NASFAA, the best way to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is early, online, and without any mistakes. If you aren't yet ready to file a FAFSA, the Department of Education's FAFSA4caster tool can help you estimate your eligibility for federal student aid by providing some basic information.
Many states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds that may have early deadlines or limited funding. The sooner you complete the FAFSA the more aid you could be eligible for.
Completing your taxes early will help you get a jump on the FAFSA, but you don’t need to complete your taxes in order to apply for federal student aid. You can use data from previous tax years to estimate figures needed to complete the FAFSA, but you'll need to correct these figures on the form later by going to the corrections page on the FAFSA website. If you know you will be late filing your taxes, it is better to complete your FAFSA with estimated information than to wait until your taxes have been filed.
Online applications are easier to complete because it uses skip‐logic to only ask relevant questions. In addition, online applications will be processed faster and will likely be more accurate because the FAFSA website is designed to catch common errors. The U.S. Department of Education provides a PreApplication Worksheet that will help you collect and proofread information for your application before you submit it. You can create a FSA ID that will allow easy access to your electronic FAFSA application. Additionally, this will enable save options, electronic signature and timely submission of your application. You can obtain your FSA ID and get more information on the FSA website.
IRS Data Retrieval
When you apply online, you will be given the option to retrieve your IRS Data to automatically populate the FAFSA. This option simplifies the application process, helps reduce errors and lowers your chances of being selected to verify the information on your FAFSA. To take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to complete your taxes first. It will take roughly two weeks for your taxes to be processed. After this time, you should be able to retrieve this information to automatically populate the corresponding questions on the FAFSA.
What You Will Need to Complete the FAFSA:
- Social Security Number (can be found on Social Security card)
- Driver's license (if any)
- W-2 Forms for the previous year and other records of money earned
- Most recent Federal Income Tax Return – IRS Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040Telefile, foreign tax return
- Records of child support paid (if applicable)
- Records of taxable earnings from federal work-‐study or other need-‐based work programs
- Records of any grants, scholarships, and fellowship aid that was included in your or your parents’ adjusted gross income (AGI)
- Current bank statements
- Current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond, and other investment records
- Documentation of U.S. permanent resident or other eligible noncitizen
For an extensive list of common errors to avoid, resources, and how to get help from and contact FAFSA, go to https://www.nasfaa.org/fafsa_tips.
And, as usual, if you need some cash to get you through the interim, please call Coastal Title Loans & Finance, LLC at 714-701-8555, or just come by our new office at 9575 Bolsa Avenue, in Westminster. We are here to help!