The beginning of the year triggers a lot of financial events for most [or at least resolutions]: Evaluating your financial situation, perhaps rebalancing investments, getting your finances organized, beginning the process of getting out of debt, starting a Roth IRA, etc. If you’re an MU student, taking one of our one-credit personal finance courses (financial survival or financial success) would be a great way to get your financial goals for the new year off to a good start. Links to register for a course are available under the “Mizzou Resources” section of the blog site. Another student [or parent of a student] event at the start of each year is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.
The FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. It is used to apply for federal aid such as grants, student loans, and work study or University aid in the form of scholarships. Even if you don’t think you are eligible for financial aid, you should still fill it out because schools also use it to award non-federal aid. Schools have different “priority deadlines” for submitting the FAFSA (March 1 at Mizzou) – students meeting the appropriate deadlines are given first consideration for aid. After that, aid will be administered based upon fund availability.
Even if you don’t have a need for loans, you can fill out the FAFSA to apply for scholarships, work study, etc. and you can refuse the loans if you don’t want or need them. You aren’t required to take the loan because you filled out the FAFSA. Don’t wait till the last minute to file – if you [and/or your parents] haven’t filed your taxes and the priority deadline is approaching, you can estimate the needed information [use last year’s tax info if the situation is similar]. You can then update the numbers when you get them.
Information you will need to fill out the FAFSA.
- Student driver’s license and Social Security card
- Income tax returns or as close an estimate a possible
- W-2 forms and other records of money earned
- Parents tax return [if dependent student]
- Current bank statements
- Records and documentation of other untaxed income received
- Records of investments (stocks, bonds, etc.)
- Current mortgage information
- Your alien registration card [if not a U.S. citizen]
- Business or farm records [if applicable]
Additional FAFSA Resources.
- http://www.fafsa.ed.gov (fill out the FAFSA online)
- 1-800-4-FED-AID (Dept of Ed can address questions or complications related to completing the FAFSA)
- Financial Aid – your financial aid office is another great resource for addressing FAFSA-related questions.
- Five common mistakes/errors to avoid (https://sfa.missouri.edu/FAFSA_Errors.pdf)