Tips for Financial Aid Success

Applying for financial aid can be a challenging experience. The following tips will help guide you through a successful application process.

  • Apply for financial aid early. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1st of your senior year. Note: For students who are currently a senior in the 2023/2024 school year the FAFSA form will be delayed until December 31, 2023 due to the number of changes in the FAFSA process. You will need the most recently completed tax year (prior to October 1st) information for yourself and parents when completing the FAFSA, (i.e. October 1, 2023 you will use tax year 2022). If you and/or your parents filed a tax return, it is highly recommended that you consent to the Federal Tax Information (FTI) process within the FAFSA to retrieve and use tax information from the IRS in completing income questions within your FAFSA.
  • Complete all application forms required by the institution thoroughly and accurately. Above all, write so that the forms can be read easily. Successfully processing your application may depend on whether the administrator can read the information, or whether you have completed the information requested. Sloppy handwriting and incomplete forms cause unnecessary delays in processing, which may cost you in showing eligibility for certain financial aid programs.
  • Don't hesitate to ask questions of your high school counselor, the admission officer or financial aid officer at the college or university you plan to attend. If there is a college or university in or near your hometown, use it as a reference for any questions you may have. A number of the federal financial aid issues are the same no matter which college or university you may attend.
  • Respond to all deadline dates the college or university may have concerning admissions or financial aid. Check to see if there are deadlines for completion of your file. In most cases a financial aid deadline means that it is the latest possible date the school expects to have all types of funds available for awarding to students. It may also mean that any file completed after the deadline may not be ready when you need the funds (such as payment time for tuition and fees). When checking the deadlines and completing the forms, please keep in mind the FAFSA could take approximately 3-5 days to be processed by the federal processor, if submitted electronically and signed with a FSA ID. Therefore, you should submit the FAFSA 2-3 weeks prior to any financial aid deadline the college or university may have established.
  • Remember to reapply for financial aid each year. You must re-apply and re-establish your eligibility for these financial aid programs from year to year. The federal processor usually sends out a FAFSA renewal e-mail to everyone who applied the previous year. However, do not rely on this processs to remind you to reapply. Just remember every October 1st that you must fill out new forms for the coming academic year. However, do not rely on this process to remind you to reapply. In addition, every spring you may need to complete new application forms required by the institution for the upcoming academic year.
  • It is your responsibility to make sure that the requirements for your application are complete. Each college or university will correspond with you and indicate what information may be missing to complete your application or file. However, they will only contact you a certain number of times. Make sure you know the process and what is required so you will be aware of the items needed to complete your file.

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