CPA David Young of the New York State Society of CPA’s explained why now is the best time to fill out the FAFSA form to apply for college financial aid Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
“The window just opened up on the first of October, so this is now looking at your 2017 tax return, which already should be filed,” said Young. “This is the opportunity to get on there, go on and fill out your financial aid form and do it early, before time gets by, it’s in the holidays. The sooner you fill out these forms, the quicker you’re going to get aid.”
The aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis.
“The first thing you want to do is, you’re going to go on to their website and get your ID,” Young said. The web address is fafsa.gov. “Now the student will have his or her own ID, and the parents will have one ID that they’re sharing, and it’s important that each person gets their own ID because you’re signing as if you’re that person, so each person filling out this form has a unique ID.”
Young added, “You’ll need your Social Security number, your driver’s license, you’re going to need your 2017 income tax return and you’re going to need a list of your assets. You’re going to need to have an idea of all of your untaxed income, so that might be if you’re getting child support. It could be if you’re getting certain disability benefits. So it’s not only the information on your tax return, but all sources of income. Also what you want to have nearby is a list of all your assets, so how much money you have in your accounts.”
It’s helpful to have a list of the schools the student plans to apply to and potentially attend. “When your student is filling out this form it’s important at this point you have an idea where he or she is going to go because you’re going to put those schools on this form,” explained Young. “So this is why hopefully by now you’ve done the exploration of what school you’re going to go to. Now it might not be so hard if you’re a returning student going back to the same school. Obviously, you put that right on there. But you need to have all of that information. You want to have it all in one spot. Now one thing to remember when you fill out the list of assets is it’s of that day. So we’re talking about on the 2017 income tax return, that’s the income, but the assets are what assets do you have on the day you’re filling out that form. And if you’re a business owner you’re not counting that business unless you have 100 or more full time employees. So that’s something to keep in mind.”
The best way to fill out the FAFSA form is online. “You can actually go online, download a PDF, fill it out and mail it in,” noted Young. “You do have that option, but generally speaking this is done online. There’s a process where you can actually link your IRS records to your FAFSA and it will actually download immediately and go, so they’ll transfer the information.”
For more Smart Money decisions visit the New York State Society of CPA’s website at nysscpa.org/getmoneysmart.