What You Need to Apply for Financial Aid Article Type: Checklist
Want a really quick way to strain your eyes and stress yourself out beyond belief? Try applying for loans, financial aid, and scholarships. It's the least fun thing on the planet and might make you curl up into a ball and start mumbling weird, finance-related acronyms to yourself.
But, uh…you have no choice.
To get your hands on any government aid, you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a worksheet created by the government that's used to take a snapshot of you and your family’s financial situation. Colleges use this worksheet to help determine how much financial need you have and how much money they should give you. Completing this worksheet also makes you eligible for financial help from the United States government and could make you eligible for certain awards from your college. Here is how to survive:
Filling out the FAFSA is a long and tedious process. It's a government form, so it can be super confusing…kind of like filing your taxes (why do they do this to us?). Because this sucker is so tedious (but so necessary), plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to fill it out. And remember, you cannot fill this out alone if you're a dependent student; your parents need to be involved. This can get a little bit tricky if your parents are, say, divorced, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.
The FAFSA is pretty much the most important thing because it's so official, but here's a general financial aid survival kit you'll need if you're also applying for loans and scholarships:
- Snacks, preferably comfort food
- Your FAFSA PIN and your parents' PIN (Apply for Personal Identification Numbers here.)
- Your parents' most recent tax returns (1040s)
- Your parents' most recent W2s
- Your W2s (if you have a job)
- Your most recent tax returns (if you filed)
- Your driver's license number
- Your passport
- Your Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you're not a U.S. citizen)
- Your parents' (and step-parents') Social Security Numbers and birth dates
- Your current bank and savings account statements
- Your parents' current bank and savings account statements
- Information on your parents' investment accounts
- Information about child support and your step-parents' information
- Your parents' business or farm records
- Records of any investments or untaxed income for you and your parents
- A copy of your transcript
- Records of any military duty your parents have completed
- Your parents' resumes, including information about any professional associations they belong to
Now that you've got your kit assembled, head over to the FAFSA website to start filling out the form.
RED ALERT: There are other FAFSA websites that are not affiliated with the real government one. Remember, FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid, so if the website you are at is asking for money, it is a scam. Watch out for these rip off sites in particular: