Making FAFSA Easy: What to Know about Your Financial Aid Form
“FAFSA” and “fun” aren’t two words you’ll hear in the same sentence. But attending a college means figuring out a way to pay for it, and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a critical step each year.
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA does many things. While you might not want to borrow money (loans) for college, you should still fill out this form every year you plan to attend school — not just when starting college. This form gives your university (William Peace University or any other) and the federal government information that may lead to you receiving scholarships, grants and other financial aid from the federal and state governments or from us.
Why should I bother? I don’t think I’ll qualify or I don’t want to borrow money.
Everyone should fill out the FAFSA, even if you think your family earns a high income. It’s free to fill out, and even students whose families earn $200,000 or more can qualify for some type of help, whether it’s loans or scholarships. Even if you don’t want a loan, WPU and many other universities use FAFSA information to determine merit-based or other scholarships.
How do I fill out the FAFSA?
You can go online to start your form. Below, we’ve included a checklist of steps. If you prefer, you can fill it out using the myStudentAid app, which you can find on iTunes or Goolge Play. However, it can take awhile to fill out and you may find it easier to do on a desktop or tablet than on a phone. If you prefer or don’t have full-time computer access, you can also print out the form and mail it in.
What if I need help?
Your high school counselors can help you with the form. You can also check out FAFSA events throughout North Carolina where you can go for help. If you don’t have a computer, you’ll find one at these events, plus people who can answer your questions.
What’s the deadline?
The application period opened up on Oct. 1. We know it’s tempting to wait until later, but this is a situation where the sooner, the better. That’s because in North Carolina, some grants and scholarships have limited funding. Applying early means maximizing your financial aid package. If you wait, you might not receive as much.
You’ll also want to check with the universities to which you are applying; they have different deadlines. At WPU, our priority filing deadline is February 15. For federal money, you have until June 30, 2022 to fill it out for the 2022-23 year.
The 2022-2023 FAFSA Checklist
Filling out the form doesn’t take too long, but it helps to gather a bunch of information in advance. Here’s what you’ll need:
- When filling out and submitting your FAFSA electronically, you’ll need an FSA ID to sign the form. If you don’t have one, you can create a FSA ID online. If you are a dependent, one parent is required to sign as well. To electronically fill out your FAFSA online, a parent will also need an FSA ID.
- The student’s Social Security card and driver’s license, and/or alien registration card if you are not a US citizen.
- The student’s 2020 federal income tax returns (1040 form), W-2s, and other records of money earned, if applicable. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can help pre-fill the answers to some of the more difficult FAFSA questions by transferring the necessary data directly from federal income tax returns.
- If you are a dependent (typically any student under the age of 24), the parents’ 2020 federal income tax returns (1040 form), W-2 forms and other records of money earned, if applicable. If you or your parents have not completed your taxes yet, please ensure this is completed as soon as possible. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can help pre-fill the answers to some of the more difficult FAFSA questions by transferring the necessary data directly from federal income tax returns.
- Records and documentation of other nontaxable income received such as child support received, welfare benefits, Social Security income, veteran’s benefits, military or clergy allowances, if applicable.
- Any additional applicable financial information, such as taxable work-study, assistantships, fellowships, grants and scholarship aid reported to the IRS, combat pay or special combat pay and cooperative education program earnings.
- Current bank and brokerage account statements, including records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, business or farm investment records and other investments, if applicable.
- Federal School Codes for each school you are applying to. You can get this code from the school (WPU School Code: 002953). If you don’t know the Federal School Code, you can search for a school by selecting the state and entering the school’s name or city.
You can download the Department of Education’s 2022 – 23 FAFSA Worksheet during your preparation process, to ensure you have all of the information you need.