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10 Things You Need To Know About The FAFSA

As we head into the end of January, high school seniors and their parents are filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While some of them might be done or just about done, ten things every family needs to know about filing the FAFSA:

1. It’s free. If you end up on a website that requires a fee to file the FAFSA, you’re in the wrong place.

2. It’s THE form required by ALL colleges which award federal aid. No FAFSA, no federal aid.

3. Both the parent and student need to obtain a PIN at before filling out the FAFSA.

4. For current seniors, the FAFSA has been available for filing since January 1st and the deadline is June 30, 2014. Yup, that’s right, 2014. Keep reading.

5. It runs on a July to June calendar where July 1st marks the “New Year.”  In other words, current high school seniors who intend on starting college this coming fall should be filing the 2013-2014 FAFSA.

6. To be considered for state grants, Connecticut residents must file by February 15th.

7. The FAFSA determines your EFC, your expected family contribution. This is the amount of money colleges will expect you to pay for one year of tuition, room, board and fees.

8. This EFC calculation is based on income and assets, not retirement money or home equity.

9. When parents are divorced or separated, the FAFSA is calculated on the parent who the student lives with for the majority of the year, the custodial parent.

10. When the custodial parent is remarried, the income and assets of the step-parent are included in the FAFSA calculation as well. It’s a federal law.

And the item I remind parents of all the time? You don’t need to have your taxes filed to fill out the FAFSA. Just enter an estimation based on the previous year. Then, when your taxes are filed, use the federal data retrieval tool to upload final information.

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