The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available on the 1st of January for families with college bound seniors or returning college students.  This year, we are beginning the tradition of what we call the “25 Days of FAFSA.”  During the 25 days leading up to the January 1st FAFSA availability, we will be counting down with special tips to help you receive the most federal aid.

Day 25 – Get your taxes done early;  Schools require a tax return to give their final award.  Until then, you can estimate income values on the FAFSA form.

Day 24 – Financial aid is given on a first-come first-serve basis.

Day 23 – Business assets are only listed on the FAFSA if the business has over 500 employees.

Day 22 – The deadline for priority consideration is February 15th.

Day 21 – Home equity is not listed on the FAFSA.

Day 20 – Protected asset class: (1) Qualified retirement accounts (2) Cash Value Life Insurance (3) Roth IRAs (4) Qualified Annuities.

Day 19 – If divorced/separated, the custodial parent is where the student spends the most time.

Day 18 – Consumer debt is not listed on the FAFSA.

Day 17 – A qualified account distribution counts as income on the FAFSA.

Day 16 – Additional real estate held in the parents’ names is listed on the FAFSA form.

Day 15 – In the question that asks about your interest in different types of aid (e.g. work-study and student loans), answer “yes” to each question. Answering “yes” does not obligate you to accept a loan or work-study position, nor does it guarantee you’ll be offered either. Answering “no” to these questions will not get you more grant aid. (via Mike Pugh)

Day 14 – If the parent responsible for the FAFSA has remarried, the new spouse must also report their income and assets on the FAFSA form.

Day 13 – The Earned Income Credit is considered “untaxed income” on the FAFSA.

Day 12 – A FAFSA mistake can lead to a form being returned for correction and could result in a 4-6 week delay.

Day 11 – Remember to count yourself, the student, as one of the people in your household who will be college students during the award year.

Day 10 – Getting a PIN before you begin the FAFSA could prevent processing delays, and it only takes a minute. Visit the Federal Student Aid PIN Website for more information.

Day 09 – The FAFSA is FREE, so if a website asks you to pay to fill it out, you’re not dealing with the official FAFSA site. Remember, the FAFSA comes from the government, so it’s on a .gov site: www.fafsa.gov.

Day 08 – AGI is assessed at 21-23%; Parent assets are assessed at 5.6%; and Student assets are assessed at 20%.

Day 07 – 75% of all FAFSA forms have mistakes!  Make sure you double and triple check your forms or have someone who knows the forms help you.

Day 06 – 529 accounts are assessed as parent assets, not student assets.

Day 05 – You can list up to 10 schools on FAFSA on the Web or up to four schools on a paper FAFSA. (You can add more schools to your FAFSA later.) Schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your results electronically.

Day 04 – Additional real estate held in LLC is not listed on the FAFSA.

Day 03 – If you are a dependent student, enlist the assistance of your parents and actively participate in completing the forms. If the financial aid office has questions they will contact the student first, and it is imperative that both you and your parent(s) are aware of the information provided.

Day 02 – Pass-through business income is listed on the FAFSA

Day 01 – You must fill out the FAFSA on a yearly basis for every year that you or your child attends college.

For extended information on the FAFSA or if you are ready to start yours, you can visit the Department of Education’s website at fafsa.gov to begin filling out a new form.  If you still aren’t sure about the process or whether you are eligible to receive financial aid and want to speak to our experts, please give us a call at (310) 876-2033.

Happy New Year!!!