One of the most strategic moves a family can make to pay less with more money for college is to file the FAFSA as early as possible. It’s the most crucial step in the entire application and financial aid process!

Taking the step to file early is critical to your financial aid because many utilize the FAFSA to calculate needs. Filing as soon as possible increases your opportunity.

Here are some simple steps to help!

You Need an FSA ID!

Before submitting a FAFSA, it is necessary to obtain an FSA ID! Create your Federal Student Aid (FSA) user ID and password, which serves as your signature for the FAFSA. Go to www.studentaid.gov to create an FSA ID; both you and a parent will need an FSA ID.

It All Starts In October

Despite your eagerness, you cannot file your FAFSA prior to October 1. But, you can start on, or anytime after, October 1 — the sooner the better!

The FAFSA indeed asks for your household’s financial information, including information from your tax forms. The great thing about the FAFSA being available early is that you and your family can use your tax information two years prior, which most have filed.

Keep in mind, many colleges and universities have a priority deadline for filing for financial aid on their campus of December 1.

Knowing What is What

When you file the FAFSA, be sure to locate the institution’s OPE ID. Don’t worry; the FAFSA form itself has a tool that you can use to look up the OPE ID. By entering this ID, it will send your FAFSA to that institution by using that 6-digit code.

SAR stands for Student Aid Report, which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. When you receive your SAR – most likely through the email you provided on your FAFSA – you need to review it to ensure everything is correct. Social Security Numbers and birth dates get messed up so take the time to review and check. If something is wrong, it will create a delay! So make sure everything is correct.

There’s An App For That

FAFSA made some significant changes in 2021! Not only is the FAFSA website easier to use now, but the FAFSA Form is available as an app, allowing you to access the FAFSA anywhere on the go. So on October 1st, download that app and get started on your FAFSA!

Filing the FAFSA is your key to federal and state financial aid eligibility.