Updated: Friday, 08 Feb 2013, 3:00 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 17 Jan 2013, 8:30 AM EST
Does your New Year’s resolution include going back to school? Or maybe you’re graduating from high school this year and ready to begin college classes. No matter which college or university you’ll be attending, the first step you need to take is completing your 2013-2014 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
All students are encouraged to file their FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year for the following fall/spring academic year to ensure the best financial aid package possible. Read on for some advice from Melanie Mulder, part of Ferris’ Financial Aid Office.
The financial aid process begins with the completion of the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov . The FAFSA is the application that most colleges and universities use to determine student eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid such as grants, loans and work study. In addition to completing the FAFSA, a student usually must be admitted to the college or university of their choice to be considered for financial aid.
You are encouraged to use prior year tax returns and 2012 W-2 forms to estimate your income and file your FAFSA in January with estimated data. Your estimated income on the FAFSA should accurately reflect any significant change to your 2012 income. Beginning on February 1, 2013 or two weeks after you electronically file your tax return with the Internal Revenue Service, you may log back into the FAFSA and link directly to the IRS database to update your tax information. The IRS data retrieval tool is not an option until the IRS has actually processed your 2012 tax return. If you file a paper return with the IRS, it will be 6-8 weeks after filing before IRS data retrieval will be available to you.
Federal Pell Grant and Federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are available throughout the aid year. All students that meet the eligibility requirements and complete the FAFSA process for these two aid programs will receive the funds, as long as they apply within the academic school year.
Make it your New Year's resolution to file your 2013-12014 FAFSA as soon as possible. It can mean the difference between more or less financial aid for you. Click here for more financial aid information for the New Year.