Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Part 1)
Okay, you’re moving along you’re admitted to UNCG and on your way to bigger and better things in life. But you have to figure out a way to pay for it. College costs money -- I mean what doesn’t, right? Hey, rest easy, UNCG folks are here to help. UNCG wants you to succeed from the time you apply to the time you graduate. We know financial aid is a big part of what will make that success possible. This video is about making sure you have your financial aid money lined up.
First things first -- You have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA. You’ll hear that term being thrown around a lot, so remember it. FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid, it’s available online at www.fafsa.gov. We encourage people to file online because it not only speeds up processing time, it makes correcting information easier, but it helps prevent confusion and allows students to skip questions that don’t apply to them. 97% of students across the country are applying online and it’s working really well.
Just remember that the first letter in FAFSA stands for FREE. So, if you end up at some website that tries to charge you, you’re in the wrong place. FAFSA dot G-O-V. G-O-V stands for government. The words federal and free application for federal student aid means that it’s run by the government. The big guys -- The Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Remember F-A-F-S-A dot gov.
The FAFSA determines that official and kind of scary sounding term called the Expected Family Contribution. Don’t panic, this is just another number that schools used to determine if students financial aid eligibility or how much money you can potentially get for school. People sometimes get very nervous and feels like it’s going to be very intimidating and difficult to fill out the FAFSA, and they want someone to do it for them. It’s just not that hard. You can do this! Filling out the FAFSA -- piece of cake. Writing a ten page paper on the rationale behind repealing prohibition…well you can do that too. But filling out the FAFSA is a lot easier. Keep listening and will give you some pointers.
- File the FAFSA every year that you are going to need financial aid.
You can submit it as early as the first of January each year for the upcoming academic year. Let me say this again: You have to complete the FAFSA each year you intend to receive aid. So, say you’re attending college in August 2012, you can actually fill out the form as early as January 1st 2012 even if you don’t know what school you’ll be going to. You’re FAFSA results will be sent to all the schools you listed on your application. It allows the financial aid office to have the information ready so when you are admitted, they can move forward with the application. Remember to add the UNCG’s school code: 002976, to your FAFSA.
Once you complete the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report. You’ll hear it referred to as the SAR, S-A-R. It lists all of your answers to all of the questions on the FAFSA form. It’s sent to each student so they can review their information and look for errors. Go ahead, look it over, check for any mistakes that you may need to correct. You want to do that in your courses too so this can be good practice.
- You have to sign the FAFSA.
But how do you do that online? Go to www.pin.ed.gov to get a pin for an electronic signature. There’s also a link from the FAFSA website. Be sure that the parent applies for their own pin, one that is separate from the student’s. Parents have to have their own pin for their own electronic signature. The pin is used each year when you apply for financial aid so make it something you’ll remember. Don’t forget it! If you do forget it, you can request the folks at FAFSA’s processing center to send it to you.
- It’s REALLY important to meet the EARLIEST filing dates of each university you apply to.
UNCG’s priority filing date is March 1st. Since you or your parents may have not filed the tax information necessary to complete the FAFSA by that time, you’re allowed to closely estimate. You HAVE to correct the FAFSA at a later time once you and your parents do file. But, it’s important to meet the March 1st deadline so go ahead estimate if you need to.
March 1st is UNCG’s priority filing date, even though you can still apply after that we encourage you to file by March first because we start handing out money mid-March. You want your name to be in the pot when there’s more money to go around because funds are limited. It’s all going to go fast, and if you file after the priority date the money for some of the grants and scholarships you might be eligible for may already be gone. March 1st - - put it on your calendar, set up notifications. Heck, write in on your hand.
- We always tell people to make photocopies of ALL documents that they use to complete the FAFSA, such as tax returns and W2s and keep them in a safe place that you’ll be able to find later in case you are selected for a process called Verification. There’s another video after this one about the verification process. So check that one out when you get a chance.
Okay, that’s it for now. Don’t forget, call the UNCG Financial Aid Office at (336) 334-5702 if you have questions. Later.
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