Have you started thinking about and preparing for the 2009-2010 school year’s financial aid process? Do you think I’m crazy for asking that question six weeks before the FAFSA applications are even being accepted?
While FAFSA is need-based, it is also first-come-first-serve. Just because you need the money doesn’t mean you’ll get it if enough people who also need the money are ahead of you in line.
Here are two important things to remember when it comes to Financial Aid applications this year:
More students than ever are going to be applying to receive federal money for college
The economic downturn is sending a lot of people from the workforce to the classroom. When someone loses a job or has their hours cut, it is a natural reaction that they would want to increase their education and skills to stay competitive in a less forgiving job market.
These students going back to college are also likely to need more financial aid and tuition assistance. If they had the money, they wouldn’t be going back to school. Obviously, not every new student fits into this demographic group, but historical trends suggest they will be a significant number of new faces on campus.
The Time Between Now and January 1 is Full of Holidays, Tests, and Travel
FAFSA applications will be accepted after January 1st 2009, but the time between now and then includes: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Finals for college students, and Midterms for high school students.
Chances are, a lot of you who are in college will be traveling, worried about finishing semester-long projects, and the last thing you’re likely to worry about is how you’re going to pay for next year’s academic bills.
How to Get Started Today
- Make sure you are eligible for financial aid
- Fill out a FAFSA worksheet to familiarize yourself with the process
- Make sure you have a PIN number to apply with or get one now
- Organize financial documents from 2008 (Although your income could change between now and then, organizing and collecting income and tax documents will help you get started)
To help ensure that you’ll be selected for Federal financial aid, make sure you are applying as close to the January 1, 2009 start date as possible. Get the prep work out of the way early so all you have to do is finalize some signatures when January rolls around.
Of course, don’t forget to finish the semester with a strong effort – and don’t forget to have fun over the holiday seasons!