Prepare now for the New Year's student aid application season
The 2014-15 FAFSA will be available beginning January 1
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging high school seniors and their families to prepare to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible after January 1, 2014.
The FAFSA is the federal form all students must submit to determine eligibility for almost all forms of need-based financial assistance, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs, the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP), various scholarships, some school-based aid, and federal student loans.
Students and families will be able to complete the FAFSA online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students and families will need the following when beginning the application process:
• Social Security Numbers
• Student’s driver’s license, if they have one
• Alien registration number, if they are not a U.S. citizen
• W-2 Forms
• Records of untaxed income received, including workers’ compensation, child support, payments to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, etc.
• Federal income tax return (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ)
• Current bank statements and records of stock, bonds and other investments
Following is a summary of additional things students and families will need to do to submit their FAFSA.
• Find out the filing deadline for each college to which the student is applying. Look for this date in the college catalog or admissions application material or on the college’s website. File the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 and before the earliest student aid deadline date for the schools to which you are applying.
• Use estimated tax data if the student will not file their tax return before the earliest financial aid deadline. After they submit their tax return, correct any income or tax info that is different from what they initially submitted on their FAFSA.
• Both students and a parent or guardian should obtain a PIN (personal identification number) from the U.S. Department of Education so they can electronically sign the FAFSA online. Request a PIN at http://www.pin.ed.gov. If they don’t have a PIN, they can still fill out the FAFSA online. However, they will need to print and sign it, then mail it to the U.S. Department of Education.
• Many colleges and universities require students and their families to complete one or more supplemental aid applications. Send these supplemental forms to the school by the deadline given.
• First-time Pennsylvania State Grant applicants must also complete a State Grant Form to be considered for the need-based program. A link to the form can be found on the confirmation page of the online FAFSA application or at Account Access at PHEAA.org.
Before selecting a school and submitting a FAFSA, students should carefully consider the many decisions that are necessary for their higher education success plan while avoiding the pitfalls of unnecessary student loan debt.
To simplify this process, PHEAA recently launched MySmartBorrowing.org, which provides estimators that assist users in determining their possible higher education costs at different schools, future salary expectations for a particular degree, availability of related employment opportunities, and their potential ability to repay student loans comfortably while also affording an independent lifestyle after graduation.
For additional information on the higher education financial aid process, schedules for helpful FAFSA Completion Sessions in the community, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and general information about planning for higher education, students are encouraged to visit PHEAA.org and to “like” PHEAA on Facebook at Facebook.com/pheaa.aid.