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"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win." » I Corinthians 9:24
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Homeschool seniors and parents, it’s time to fill out your FAFSA! That goes for college students too. Are you wondering what I’m talking about?

What on Earth Is a FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the United States government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can fill out the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov/ It is free to fill it out. Don’t fill it out on a site that charges you money.

Why Do You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA?

All high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall of 2016 and all returning college students should fill it out.

If you want to apply for federal, state, or school-based financial aid, you will have to fill out this form first. For example, if you want to apply for Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, you will need to fill out this form.

What if I Don’t Qualify for Need-Based Financial Aid?

It does matter if you are applying for need-based or merit-based aid, filling out the form is required. Many families don’t qualify for income-based aid but are still able to get financial aid because of SAT scores or good grades. The form is a prerequisite.

What Information Do I Need?

The first time we filled out a FAFSA form, I was overwhelmed. I had never shared all that financial information with my children. It is a lot of information to disclose. You have to share your taxable income for 2015 (or an estimate). You also have to disclose your stocks, bonds, bank account balances, real estate investments, spouses’ and student’s social security numbers, driver’s license number and more. So be ready to get out your tax return, bank account statements, and investment portfolio!

Is It One Per Household?

No. You must fill out a FAFSA for every college student. This year we filled one out for Jimmy and another one for Shine.

When Should My Teen Fill Out the FAFSA?

My colleges require the FAFSA to be completed by late February or late March, but it is best to complete it as soon as possible. Some colleges have a limited amount of scholarship money and it tends to be a first-come, first-served situation. When the money is gone, there is no more scholarship. With filling out the FAFSA being a prerequisite for financial aid at most colleges and universities, a student who hasn’t filled out the FAFSA yet may be out of luck.

So if you haven’t filled it out yet, now is the time.

What’s New for FAFSA?

There is good news for next year. Beginning in October 2016, you can fill out your 2017 FAFSA using the parents’ 2015 income tax figures. That will save a lot of headache come January when W-2s and other forms are just arriving and you are trying to estimate your taxable income.

Let’s all remind each other this October to get our 2017 FAFSAs in.

If you are interested in learning more about homeschooling high school and getting ready for college, please check out the book I wrote with my friend Laura, Unlocking the Mysteries of Homeschooling High School.

The e-book is available here.

© 2014 Finish Well Conference
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