December is here, along with lots of snow! By now, you’re probably hard at work completing your college applications. Or, maybe you applied Early Action and finished them. Either way, you’re almost there! The next step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA.
Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Create your FSA ID.
The FSA ID allows you and your parents to electronically sign the FAFSA. The ID is made up of a username and password. You can start by creating one here.
Every student and one parent will need a FSA ID. We suggest creating one ahead of time. Be sure to correctly enter the name, Social Security number and date of birth.
*New for the 2020-2021 academic year: You must have access to a cell phone and/or email address when creating your FSA ID. A secure code is sent to a phone and/or email address that allows you to verify your identity.
2. Be sure to have certain documents available before you start your application.
It takes most people less than an hour to complete the FAFSA. To make the process easier, we suggest you have the following on hand before you begin:
- Social Security numbers
- Driver’s license
- You and your parent’s 2018 W2’s and tax returns
- Current bank statements
- Any current business information, if applicable
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but it will cut down on time you may spend on saving your application and completing it at a later date while you search for documents.
3. Avoid common mistakes.
Mistakes on your application can often lead to delays in processing your FAFSA. Some of the most common errors are:
- Listing an incorrect Social Security number
- Entering a nickname
- Listing marital status incorrectly
- Not counting yourself (the student) as a member of your household
- Forgetting to register with the Selective Service (Note: if you are a male, you must register)
- Listing parent marital status incorrectly (Note: if your custodial parent is remarried, you’ll need to include step-parent information)
- Forgetting to enter any contributions to tax-deferred pensions
If eligible, we strongly encourage that you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to reduce mistakes and to be sure that your tax information is accurate.
4. Be aware of any deadlines.
UNE does not have a deadline to submit the FAFSA. However, we suggest you complete the application as soon as you are able once the application opens on October 1st.
This allows you time to compare financial aid awards and ask questions. Many states have grants available to students and there may be a FAFSA submission deadline. Check your states’ website for information. Similarly, many schools may have a financial aid deadline— be sure to check the dates on their website.
5. Last but not least…. ask questions!
We understand that paying for college can be complex. We are here to guide you every step of the way and encourage you to call, email or visit our offices. Our tuition planning team is available to provide a personalized approach on how to make UNE work for you.
We can be reached via phone at 207-602-2342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Associate Director of Tuition Planning & Student Service
Prior to joining UNE in December 2016, Anne had an extensive background in banking and sales. The part of her job she enjoys most is meeting with students and families to help them navigate the often complex process of applying for financial aid. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her five kids and large extended family, as well as running.