FAFSA Deadline Approaching; File ASAP

The FAFSA filing deadline is quickly approaching, but there is help available to take the first step toward getting state and federal aid for college. Mike Brown, executive director of finance at Ancilla College, told WKVI that the FAFSA deadline of March 10 means there is just over a week left to get the vital form filed – even a day late can result in no aid from the state.

“March 10 is a hugely important date for residents of Indiana. The federal government doesn’t have any deadline date for FAFSA applications, so you can file in April and May and you’ll still be eligible for student loans and federal grants for the August school year. But you’re a resident of the state of Indiana; you will receive zero if you file March 11. Zero,” said Brown.

Brown said the most common question he gets about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, believe it or not, is how much it costs.

“FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid – so what do we think it costs? The answer is, it costs nothing. Maybe it costs a little bit of time, but there’s no check, there’s no cash, there’s no money – it is free. Everyone who is thinking about college needs to fill out a FAFSA,” said Brown.

He said the form is extremely important for most families who can’t afford to just write a substantial check for tuition, housing, books, supplies, equipment and food. Without filing the FAFSA, he said the student won’t be eligible to receive any financial aid from the state or the federal government, and they won’t be eligible for student loans.

Fortunately, now it’s easier than ever; Brown said the form is mostly filled out online, as the Department of Education has transitioned away from paper.

“FAFSA is a Department of Education federal form, and it’s a couple-step process. First step is the student and a parent both have to get a PIN, and that’s easily done; you go to www.pin.ed.gov and get your PIN number, and make sure you write it down, because you will need it over and over and over again through your college days,” Brown said.

Following that, visit FAFSA.ed.gov to fill out additional information. Brown said there are six to seven pages worth of information to fill out, and it may be intimidating, but most of the numbers come right off of your tax returns.

For those who don’t have their taxes filed yet, Brown advised filling out the FAFSA form anyway, using your best estimates for the numbers for your 2013 tax return. Then, go back and correct those numbers if necessary no later than May 15.

Ancilla is holding three free financial aid workshops this month for anyone who needs help navigating the FAFSA. On March 4, 5, and 6, Ancilla financial aid professionals will provide help and answer financial aid questions at no cost. Visit Ancilla on March 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., March 5 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., or March 6 from 10 a.m. to noon.