Seniors- What to do in January

With college applications completed (or nearly completed), it is now time to get serious about Financial Aid. Although a dreaded and daunting topic, applying for Financial Aid is not too difficult once you understand the process and sit down to do it.

To get you started, there are two things that every family should do. First, fill out the FAFSA and second, read the Financial Aid portion of the web-site for each college to which you are applying.

The government form for federal aid is called the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We believe everyone should fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you will qualify for federal aid. If for no other reason, filling out the FAFSA will allow students to take out federally-backed student loans. Additionally, some merit aid awards and athletic scholarships require students to fill out a FAFSA. The FAFSA should be completed as soon as possible after January 1, 2011 for graduating seniors. The FAFSA requires income and tax information from 2010, so there are two options. If you are planning to have your taxes done early, you can wait to fill out the FAFSA until you have complete information. Otherwise, you can fill out the FAFSA with estimates and update it later. Either way, it is important to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible because aid is often given out on a first-come first-served basis.

The first step for filling out the FAFSA is to get a PIN. Both students and parents need a PIN. After you have applied for a PIN, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and the newly designed site will walk you through the process.

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