Welcome to 2015! The New Year is well underway–and that means it’s time to have your senior fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ASAP!
The FAFSA will determine your expected family contribution, or the annual amount you’ll be expected to pay toward a college education. If the cost of attendance exceeds your expected contribution, you will be eligible for need-based loans and grants.
The 2015-16 FAFSA became available on January 1. The sooner you get started, the better–completing the FAFSA early will put your student will be at the head of the line for many of the first-come, first-served aid programs.
The application process sounds a lot more daunting than it actually is. It should take no more than half an hour to complete. The key is PREPARATION.
At Grand Canyon University, we’ve compiled a FAFSA checklist for filling out your application online. And remember, GCU’s admissions team is available to answer questions and help guide you through the process.
- FILE YOUR TAXES FIRST:Grand Canyon University encourages you to complete and submit your 2014 taxes early. This will help ensure that your student receives the correct amount of aid for which he or she is eligible.
- FREE IS KEY:It shouldn’t cost you a penny to fill out the FAFSA—after all, the word “free” is right there in the name! If an outside company or website charges you a fee to help you fill out the application, you are not dealing with the official FAFSA website. Most, if not all, of the help you may need is available at FAFSA.ed.gov.
- GATHER ALL NECESSARY FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS: Depending on your family’s financial situation, you’ll need to collect the following information BEFORE filling out the application:
- Student’s Social Security number and driver’s license number (if applicable)
- Parent’s Social Security number (if your child is a dependent and you are signing with them)
- Student’s alien registration number (if not a U.S. citizen)
- Student and parent’s federal tax information and tax returns, including IRS W-2 information, along with any IRS 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ forms
- Untaxed income records (e.g., child support, interest income, veteran benefits)
- Bank and investment account statements, including savings/checking accounts balances and stocks/bonds
- LIST YOUR COLLEGES: The schools you list on your FAFSA will use your information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid for which your child is eligible, so it’s important to list all schools to which your student has applied. Each school has a unique code assigned to them that you’ll enter on your application. GCU’s SCHOOL CODE IS 001074.
- UTILIZE THE DRT: Save time and effort by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT, online. The DRT transfers data from your most current tax return (in this case, 2014).
- SIGN & SUBMIT: Sign the FAFSA. Once you see a confirmation page, you’ll know you’ve reached the end. Success!
NOW WHAT? Once your FAFSA is submitted, the Office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report, or SAR—a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Look this over to ensure no mistakes were made. Then, the schools listed on the application (and ultimately, those your child is accepted to) will individually calculate aid and send your son or daughter an electronic or paper “award offer” specifying how much money your student is eligible for in the form of grants, loans and work-study funds.
For more information on the difference between these forms of financial aid or the FAFSA, visit our website or contact us today!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.