As thoughts of celebrations dance in our heads, it is increasingly important to remember to get ready to file the FAFSA. The earlier you file, the better – but, you may only submit the application for the upcoming college year on or after January 1 preceding the student’s anticipated attendance.
Anyone who files the FAFSA needs a personal identification number, or PIN. Parents and each of their children who are filing a FAFSA need their own (parents are considered as one unit). The parents’ PIN is to be used for every child for which the FAFSA is filed.
If there are multiple children applying for aid in the same year, a FAFSA must be filed for each. It is recommended that, if you have not obtained a PIN, get one as soon as possible. The PIN is the electronic signature and must be used to submit the FAFSA.
The FAFSA relies on year-end income information that parents provide, sometimes available on paychecks stubs. This information may be updated later in the year, without penalty, if necessary. However, it is recommended that tax information be as accurate as possible as soon as possible. There is also an IRS data retrieval tool to update information from the Internal Revenue Service.
Upon filing the FAFSA, New Jersey residents should also apply for Higher Education Student Assistant Authority (HESAA) for grants, scholarships, and loan approvals. Even if a family is financially solvent, it does not hurt to have a safety net. Besides, who knows? Grant and scholarship money might become available making college more affordable.
Please also make certain to file a CSS Profile for those colleges that participate in the institutional methodology of financial aid. This may be done at any time upon applying to college.
Some websites to bookmark:
FAFSA application is accessible at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
Create your FAFSA PIN at: http://www.pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp
List of CSS Profile participating colleges:
CSS Profile application: https://profileonline.collegeboard.org/prf/index.jsp