College students are just getting back to work on the second half of this academic year, but a spokesperson for the Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) says parents and students already need to be thinking ahead to next year. Heather Doe says no is the time to fill out what’s called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. “FAFSA is something that you have to file every year. And the new form for the upcoming school year, the year 14-15, is always available January first,” Doe explains.
FAFSA is used by colleges to determine if a student is eligible for scholarships and other programs, and a delay in filling out the information could mean you miss out on money. “Even if they don’t have their taxes done, we suggest going out there and filing it and using estimated data from their previous taxes now,” Doe advises. “That allows them to make sure they meet any deadlines out there.” She says you can update the FAFSA with your current tax information once it becomes available.
Some parents may not want to go through the FAFSA update again after finding out their student didn’t qualify for any scholarships last year. Doe says it is still wise to file again to be sure you have access to all available resources. “If you do think that it’s a possibility that you are going to need a student loan to help fund your educational costs, you do have to file a FAFSA to qualify and to be able to borrow a federal Stafford director loan,” according to Doe. “So, we say go ahead and file, it’s free, it doesn’t hurt anything, and you might be eligible for programs that you weren’t aware of.”
Doe says free is the keyword when you go online to file the form. “Nobody should pay to file the FAFSA, it is a free form. If there are questions about filing the FAFSA, they can certainly give our office a call, Iowa College Aid, at 877-272-4456.
To file the FAFSA, go online to www.FAFSA.gov.