Published on Oct. 17, 2019
It’s that time of year, students. As the midterm season ends, it is time to start focusing on finance, specifically financial aid. Every year, the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) awards thousands of dollars to students through loans and grants. But submitting a FAFSA is not simple or quick. Just because it’s a long process doesn’t make it impossible though. Here are some things to get done before filling out FAFSA that can make it easier on you and your family, and make sure you make the priority deadline on February 1st.
1. Explore the FAFSA website
When in doubt, go straight to the source. FAFSA’s official website answers frequently asked questions like the priority deadlines, what you’ll need to fill out the form, and which year of tax returns are used to fill out FAFSA.
2. Double check or create your password
FAFSA is secured by what is called the FSA ID, which will differ depending on if it’s you or your parents logging in. It’s important that both you and your parents know how to log in to the website. If you can’t remember your FSA ID, you can go to the FSA ID website and change your information under “Manage My FSA ID”. This is also why it’s important that your parent/guardian remember their password so they can log in as well.
3. Have a date in mind to fill out FAFSA
When it comes to financial aid, it’s a first come, first serve basis. The priority deadline is in February, and while that may seem like ample time to get it done, final exams and winter break can throw a wrench in things. Make sure that you and your guardian(s) have a date in mind that will get it done, that works for everyone’s schedule. As a rule, it’s best to fill out FAFSA before the end of November, but anytime before February 1 will meet the priority deadline.
4. Be prepared for setbacks
For any important deadline, you should always prepare for setbacks or issues. This is part of the reason why we recommend completing FAFSA well before the priority deadline. Make sure you have enough time to deal with things like incorrect FAFSA information or verification. Verification is a process that is sometimes required for certain people that file. Don’t be afraid, verification doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or illegal, it just means that the Financial Aid Department needs to double check the information you’ve provided in order to be more accurate with the results. Your financial situation may also change drastically in the next few months, which may require you to change your information. You can do this through the FAFSA website.
5. Explore alternatives to FAFSA for financial aid
FAFSA is a vital step in paying your tuition, but don’t simply file for FAFSA and give up on any other chances for financial aid. The MU Annual Scholarship Application is a great opportunity to get some more money for education, and applying to be a summer welcome leader or Residence Hall Assistant (RA) can be a smart way to earn money throughout the year in a way that works with your school schedule. Don’t be afraid to look up scholarships or meet with your financial advisor through MU Connect.