FAFSA 101: Why every parent of a prospective college student should complete a FAFSA form
Ann Arbor, Mich. — Nov. 5, 2014 — It’s the time of year when college bound students and parents will begin to hear about the awkwardly sounding “FAFSA”, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Financial advisor and certified college planning specialist Timothy C. Parros, of Parros College Planning in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company providing resources in the college admissions process to parents and prospective college students, says all prospective college students and their parents should fill out the FAFSA application – regardless of income level or assets.
“Many times parents don’t fill out the FAFSA because they believe their income level is too high or they have saved too much money, so their student will not qualify for need-based aid,” Parros said. “However, there are other forms of monetary assistance available by completing the FAFSA beyond governmental loans. Because of the additional monies available beyond need-based aid, it is in the best interest of all college bound students and their parents to fill out the FAFSA.”
According to Parros, FAFSA forms can be completed as early as Jan. 1 of the student’s senior year and, contrary to popular belief, taxes do not have to be completed to fill out the FAFSA form.
“The earlier the FAFSA is completed the better, because grants, scholarships, and loans are given out on a first come basis by the colleges after receiving the FAFSA information,” Parros said. “Students seeking scholarships late in the game may find the monies have already been allocated to students who acted on or near Jan. 1.”
Parros offers the following three steps to help get students and parents started in the FAFSA process:
- Fill out and submit the FAFSA form starting Jan. 1 (http://fafsa.ed.gov/)
- Start researching scholarships available at the colleges where applications are being submitted; don’t forget to research private scholarships, which may require more digging than the scholarships noted on a school’s website
- Update the FAFSA application once 2014 taxes are completed
- Check with the college to see if a CSS profile (College Scholarship Service Profile), also known as a ‘Financial Aid Profile,’ is required
“Parents tell me they won’t get any type of aid by completing the FAFSA so they don’t fill it out,” Parros said. “I counter that they are correct –they will not get any aid if they don’t fill out the FAFSA!”