Applying for FAFSA and Scholarships

So what's harder to fill out FAFSA or a scholarship application? It actually varies because scholarships can be as simple as filling out a quick online form to writing a 6 page essay and like most students you probably don't like the fact that you have to write that much but if you love writing it's probably very enjoyable.

I remember the first time I tried filling out a scholarship application . I really felt like I was overwhelmed and I had not even filled one blank space. I tell you that because you might feel that way right now or you will feel that way later.

It's good for you to understand that scholarships can vary in so many ways that you will have to check requirements for each scholarship you want to apply for .

My word of advice is to MAKE SURE you meet all the requirements because if you don't in most cases they will throw your application straight in the trash can. That is something you need to always remember.

Also, remember the deadlines . I would write them down on a calendar to keep up with each scholarship. It's time for some good news.

When you fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) you are actually applying for grants, work-study, and loans at the same time. That's one thing the federal government has right especially for our generation.

One application certainly is better than having to fill out three. Before I explain how FAFSA works I want you to know a few things that you must keep in mind. This might be tedious but I promise it will be worth your time to know this information.

    Things to keep in mind:

  • States and schools have their own deadlines for you to complete the FAFSA so check your state deadline as well as the school deadline for the school you will attend.


  • Because many of the deadlines for states and schools vary from the IRS tax filing deadline you can estimate your tax information but you must correct it once you have filed your taxes.


  • Your University may give financial aid on a first come first serve basis so complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st.


  • It is important to know that FAFSA is used by almost every university and is used to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and university aid that include grants, loans and work-study.


  • Make sure that you carefully fill out the application because errors can cause delays and sometimes even loss of financial aid.


  • Filing through the internet takes up to 3 days to process while filling out the paper application can take up to 3 weeks.


  • I highly recommend filing online because you can easily correct mistakes using the pin that you will be given. You will also need your parents pin if you are considered dependent. Determine if you are dependent by clicking here.


  • Go to www.pin.ed.gov and apply for a pin if you don’t have one and if you forget your pin simply request a duplicate.


  • Fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you qualify. You just never know…


  • You will have to fill the FAFSA out each year.

What you need before you start

Now that you know that vital information we can move on to what's next. You will have to decide whether to fill it out electronically or by paper but I highly recommend you file it electronically for the reasons I've already mentioned. The next thing you need is your documentation to fill out your FAFSA .

    Documents you will need:

  • Your social security number


  • Your driver's license (if you have one)


  • Your 2011 W-2 Forms and other records of money earned


  • Your (and your spouse's, if you are married) 2010 Federal income tax return:IRS 1040, 1040A,1040 EZ,Foreign tax return, or Tax Return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau


  • Your parents 2011 income tax (if you are a dependent student)


  • Your 2011 untaxed income records:Veterans noneducation benefit records,Child support received,Worker's compensation


  • Your current bank statements


  • Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records


  • Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S citizen)


I bet you're exhausted after getting all that stuff but you are closer to finishing. Pretty soon you will be glad you got this done. Finishing early just means you have a better chance of getting more financial aid.

Now you will sign up for a PIN

The good news is that you will only need to sign up once and simply re-use your PIN every year when you fill out your FAFSA. You will need it for several reasons.

    Why you need it:

  • You will use it to electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents


  • Access your records


All you have to do is click the following link and sign up. www.pin.ed.gov

Visit www.fafsa.ed.gov to fill out your FAFSA and follow up on it. If you did it electronically, you need to check up on it in about a week.

How do they determine what aid you're eligible for?



You will get a SAR (student aid report) that will be used by your university to create your financial aid package.

FAFSA determines your need by simply subtracting your EFC (expected family contribution) from your COA (cost of attendance which includes tuition, books, fees, room and board as well as other costs) which tells them your need.

Wow! You are finally done. I know that was a lot of work but you will be glad you did it. Here is a list of organizations that offer free help with filling out the FAFSA.

If I were you I would take advantage of these great resources I've compiled considering there are companies that charge a pretty high fee to even help you. Learn to fill it out by asking questions. It will save you 3 to 4 hundred dollars over 4 years. It will cost that much if you decide to pay a company that helps you fill it out. This is free! Get information about college scholarships for re-entering students.

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