As you or your student prepare the paperwork for college, don't forget to fill out a FAFSA - it could save you thousands of dollars over the coming years.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the central clearing house to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. The deadline to fill out this free application is February. 28, 2015."FAFSA is a task to prioritize in order to get any type of collegiate financial assistance," Principal and CPA Colleen Meenk says. "This includes music, athletic, and academic scholarships, as well as need-based aid."
Colleen Meenk, Principal and CPA
Many people think they're not eligible for government-based aid, Meenk says, and fail to fill out the FAFSA. But the FAFSA is critical for any type of scholarship and highly recommended for students who are planning to finance their education through student loans.
You'll need to include information about your federal tax return with your FAFSA. If your return is already completed and filed, you'll need to let the government know; if it has not been filed,
you'll need to give the government an estimate of the amounts to be reported and update with final information on completion.
Here are a few fast FAFSA facts:
Applications are accepted any time between Jan. 1 - Feb. 28
The application is contingent upon your tax return file
Both student (dependent) and parent information will need to be reported
You will need to reapply every year you're in college
Apply online - it's faster and easier
Ready to get started? You'll need the following information:
Amount and source of your personal income
Income tax return
Access to other funds
Value of your home and other assets
Meenk recommends tackling the FAFSA right away. Completing the application, especially for the first time, can be time-consuming. If this is your first time completing the FAFSA, you will need to create a personal identification number (pin) that is household-specific. Keep track of your number, because you'll use it for all future applications; in fact, next year, you will only need to update your yearly tax information.
Lori is an Experienced Senior Associate at Grimbleby Coleman, helping clients resolve accounting and internal control issues. She's a graduate of Golden Gate University and has her CPA and CPR, "just in case someone gets a big tax bill and needs to be revived." We assure she is joking!
Outside of the office, Lori is a member of the Fun Sport Bike Club of Modesto. She spends much of her time outdoors biking and running. In the summer, you might even find her "taking my best attempt at swimming" for a triathlon.
Lori admires Bill Crosby for his high level of education and belief that the future lies in education, Stephen King for his books and imagination, and her husband because he's simply "incredible".
Her favorite number is 13. "I feel sorry for it and believe in giving all a fair chance."