NORMAN — Q: I am the parent of a junior and senior in high school. I keep hearing it’s time to apply for FAFSA, but I don’t even know where to begin. Can you give me a short course in FAFSA for dummies?
— Kristi, Norman
What a great question. Yes, it is time to apply now.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Student Aid. It is required for any financial aid (pellgrants, scholarships, student loans, etc.) for a student to attend college, unless you are able to pay all college expenses and are asking for no financial help.
The website is fafsa.ed.gov. Please don’t confuse this correct website with the many fakes out there that want you to pay for their services. They look very similar. Make sure the website is not redirecting you to another site.
· Step 1: Get on fafsa.ed.gov today and request pin numbers for both you and your student. Put these pin numbers somewhere easily found because you will use the same pin numbers for years.
· Step 2: To complete the entire application, you will need to gather all your current tax information for 2012. You can still create the account even if you don’t currently have all this information. The sooner you can input this tax information, the better because financial aid is based on a first come, first serve basis.
· Step 3: Read every question carefully and thoroughly and answer completely. You will be asked questions about number of people in your household, marital status, bank account balances, investment accounts, number of children in college and all personal information such as address, social security numbers, etc. You will need to list every school that your student is interested in attending, (the first four are free) because each school has their own financial aid packages they can award. Each college/university has a school code, which can be found on the school code finder located in FAFSA.
· Step 4: You will be required to sign the application. You can choose to sign electronically using your acquired pin number or you can print the final page and mail it in. We recommend the electronic option because, as we said before, it’s quicker and all of this is first come, first serve.
· Step 5: Once you have clicked submit, a screen will appear displaying your EFC. This is your Expected Family Contribution. Do not let this frighten you because each school is different. It’s basically telling you how much money you should expect to pay per year for your child’s college education.
After submission, you will get an email in approximately a week referring to the SAR, which is the Student Aid Report. This report is basically a recap of all information you have given FAFSA, and it allows you to review and edit what you entered.
You will most likely be told that you have been chosen for review. At that time, you will be asked to send hard copies of a few pages of your filed tax return to FAFSA. Be sure you sign these documents prior to sending. This does sound like a confusing process, but we promise you if we can do it, you can do it.
We have helped many parents and students through this process. Please feel free to email us if you have more questions. You’ll be fine — we have faith. The website takes you through step by step.
Please send questions to questions.classact@gmail.
com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district.