Have you filed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) yet? Its online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/, and applications are now being accepted. If you haven’t got prepared yet with your tax information and a PIN, here’s a guide to get started with your 2009 financial aid right now.
No? Why not!? OK, its only the second day of January today, but there’s no reason to wait around. While the FAFSA is need-based, it is also time sensitive. The sooner you apply, the more likely it is that your college will still have some federal funds available by the time they get to your application. If you don’t apply or you wait too long, there’s absolutely no way you can get free federal money to pay for your college and cost of living expenses.
Don’t think you’ll be eligible to receive federal grants? Don’t worry! You may still be eligible for subsidized loans. Even if you’re not able to receive reduced cost student loans, you can still use a FAFSA profile for many other scholarship and grant purposes.
If its your first time filing the FAFSA, don’t be discouraged and take your time. I mean, get started immediately, but don’t try to cut corners or rush through the actual application process. Read the steps carefully and double-check everything before you finalize the submission. Small mistakes and oversights here can make applications ineligible and cost a lot of time and money in the long run!
One final word of advice: Try to avoid services and programs that charge you money to file a FAFSA for you. You’ll need to organize all of your personal and financial records anyway, and really that’s the hardest part of the process. If you submit that data to an online service, you may as well be submitting it directly into the government’s database. Skip the middle man and save some money for college in the process!
Good luck to applicants, and good luck with a financially prosperous 2009!