Tips for Filling Out FAFSA Application

February 1, 2023

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an important gateway application to gaining financial assistance for getting through college. For students, this is a sensitive document to fill out and should be done carefully. Putting in the effort to make a case that stands out among the plethora of college students who apply for financial aid is the key to getting the maximum benefit out of your FAFSA application. If you are applying for this aid, don’t worry and follow these tips to fill out the best application.

Apply Early

The FAFSA typically opens on October 1st every year for the following academic year. You should fill out the form and submit it as soon as possible to get the maximum aid. Applying early keeps you from missing deadlines for college aids. Moreover, some grants work on a first come first serve basis which means you can get money solely based on your impeccable timing. 

Reduce Income in the Base Year

The process through which FAFSA filters applications according to need is by analyzing the family’s income and tax information from a previous calendar year called the base year. So for example you are applying for financial aid for the academic year 2022-2023. You will most likely fill out your FAFSA application on October 1st, 2021 aka this year. Your base year would be 2020. Hence, it’s a good idea to minimize your capital gains during the base year to make you eligible for more aid. 

Every $10,000 reduction in parent income will increase aid eligibility by about $3,000. Every $10,000 reduction in student income will increase aid eligibility by about $5,000. 

Minimize Reportable Assets;

While the major criteria of determining the financial strength of a family are by evaluating their income in the base year, the other factor which plays a slightly significant role in determining your eligibility for aid is the number and value of financial assets you possess. Reducing the amount of money you have in the bank will make you more likely to score higher financial aid. You can use this high-interest debt such as credit cards and car loans with low-interest savings. 

Put More Kids Through College

Another way FAFSA determines a parent’s ability to put the child through college is by evaluating how many children of the same parent is a college student or about to be one. The formula divides the parent contribution portion of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by the number of children in college. Having more than one kid in college will increase the chances for hefty financial aid for the applicant since it divides the parent’s income in half. This has a huge impact on the value of financial aid.

Save and Spend Strategically

Every $10,000 in student assets reduces aid eligibility by $2,000. Every $10,000 in parent assets reduces aid eligibility by up to $564. Reduce the amount of savings in your account. Spend your funds strategically to bring the student’s account to zero.