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File Your FAFSA Early This Year! And here’s why…

Ok, folks, let me start our new year together with a tremendously un-fun but necessary topic: finances and college tuition.

Each year around this time, most college students and their parents wait for W2 forms to come in the mail so they can file not only their taxes (ominous music here), but that form famous (or maybe infamous?) to all American college-goers and their guardians, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/).

So here’s how it usually goes from late January throughout February:

Jan 31st–Oh look, the W2s are here, guess it’s time to do those taxes!

February 14–Hey Kayla/Phil/Steven/Ashley ! Happy Valentine’s! Don’t forget we have to fill out your FAFSA soon! Just as soon as I finish the taxes…

Late February–Son of a buck! We haven’t done the FAFSA yet! February is such a short month! And the taxes!

March 1st (ish)–Taxes done. FAFSA filed. Audible sigh of relief. Time for a margarita.

It used to be that this time frame, while not ideal, because much state and federal aid is first-come, first served, would work OK for most families who met the priority filling deadline. Last spring though, all that changed. Last year, Kentucky, along with other states, ran out of funds for state-based grants (Kentucky rand out of funds sometime around early-mid February, actually, so the family in my formerly plausible scenario would have been up a creek, as they say). This means that several students who had previously been awarded those grants lost them if they didn’t file their FAFSAs super-early. For many students at various institutions, the loss was significant enough to force serious choices and changes about how they paid for their college education.

This year, many institutions and several states are encouraging students to file as soon as possible after January 1st. Just this morning, I checked out the “Deadlines” section of fafsa.gov, and looked at the deadlines for states where many BU students come from. Blurbs for Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois all greeted me with the same nerve-wracking message: File as soon as possible after January 1. Awards made until funds are depleted. (READ: When it’s gone, it’s gone). Wait! You’re thinking, I won’t have my tax forms! That’s OK. Your new motto for the FAFSA should be “Don’t wait, estimate!” Use last year’s tax info and what you already know to estimate your info for this year’s form. You can make amendments later if necessary.

Go here http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ to fill out your FAFSA and see deadlines for your state.

Go here http://www.bellarmine.edu/financialaid/ to get all the info you need about financial aid at BU.

Go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6P2Lf2AB0M to see a (short and SO HELPFUL) video from Heather Boutell, BU’s Director of Financial Aid.

Now stop reading and go file your FAFSA!

Jessica Hume, c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications
Bellarmine University

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About Cassie

I'm the Director of the Writing Center and Director of Parent Communications at Bellarmine University.

3 comments on “File Your FAFSA Early This Year! And here’s why…

  1. Oh wow, I had no idea! One of my faverite things about BU is the special attention paid by facaulty and staff. Your blogs are always most helpful – and entertaining to boot! Thanks Jessica.

  2. […] FAFSA with last years tax info is not incorrect to do or fraud. It is what you are supposed to. https://bellarminearc.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/file-your-fafsa-early-this-year-and-heres-why/ Log in to […]

  3. […] Beginning Jan 1 and to make the most of your award do it on that date or closest to that as possible. The reason is is because colleges are given certain types of financial aid that is limited, meaning there is not going to be enough for all that apply for it and those who apply early will get it. So what you do is do not wait for the current year taxes to fill it out. For the tax question click will file. Then take the previous years taxes and use that for the tax section. Because you clicked will file they know you are doing your FAFSA as an estimate. Then asap wnen the W2s come in for this years taxes, do the taxes asap and then log back into fafsa, click make corrections, for tax section click filed, then right the tax info and place in the current year tax info and then resubmit. By filing early as an estimate they will hold the aid unfilled at that time for you. So file early! https://bellarminearc.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/file-your-fafsa-early-this-year-and-heres-why/ […]

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