FAFSA: How to Face the Form

FAFSA: HOW TO FACE THE FORM --Senior Orlando Gearing is logging into his account at fafsa.gov.

Morgan Snyder

FAFSA: HOW TO FACE THE FORM --Senior Orlando Gearing is logging into his account at fafsa.gov.

Morgan Snyder, Columnist

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Many seniors are reluctant to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This procrastination is a noticeable epidemic among Central High seniors this year, and it will not be long before counselors are chasing down students to fill out the form.

“I think students procrastinate because it’s another form to fill out, it’s complicated, and they have to get their parents involved. They have to make an ID and their parents have to make an ID,” said Stacy Alexander, Central’s college access advisor.

In the eyes of adults, avoidance of the FAFSA may seem ignorant, but students are more understanding and able to explain this phenomenon.

“The biggest obstacle is finding the time with my dad to fill it out. He doesn’t get home until late in the evening and by that time we have to do, household stuff,” said Senior James Ortiz.

“I did it the first day it was available, but my parents had to fill it out for me because I had work that night,” added Senior Andrew Merriweather.

For some, completing the FAFSA is a relatively simple, step-by-step process that can take as little as 15 minutes; however, it may take others up to an hour to complete. They must remember that this application is completely free to fill out and is extremely accessible.

First, students visit fafsa.gov. If a student is completing their FAFSA for the first time this year, they must create an FSA ID. The ID takes about 10 minutes to create, and if it is your first time applying for FAFSA, you can use the ID right away. Parents also need to create an FSA ID in order to sign students’ forms online that contain their information.

For parents who have helped fill out a FAFSA form before, the FSA ID will remain the same as previous applications’ and their knowledge may facilitate the process of adding information.

“I was working that day, so my mother did it. She didn’t have much trouble because she had filled one out before for my older brother,” shared Ta’Niyah Johnson, a senior at Central.

Next, applicants must gather the necessary financial documents to fill out the form. Students and parents will need their social security number or an Alien Registration number (for non-U.S. citizens). As well as a federal income tax return, W-2 form, and any records of money earned from the previous year. It may also need bank statements, records of any investments, and records of any untaxed income. There is also an option to prefill several of the questions by choosing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for those who have already filed their federal income tax return. These documents help to determine how much financial assistance students qualify for. They are analyzed to determine a family’s financial status, which is why they are a must-have to complete the form.

The next step is to actually begin filling out the application. Students attending college in the fall of 2020 must choose to complete the application for the 20-21 school year by June 30, 2021, using tax information from 2018.

Students then fill out the seven sections thoroughly- student demographics, school selection, dependency status, parent demographics, financial information, sign and submit, and confirmation.

The last step to filing for the FAFSA is to submit the completed form. The Department of Education stated that online applications are processed in between three and five days; applicants will receive a confirmation email stating that is was successfully processed. However, if there is missing or incorrect information an email will also be sent for applicants to modify.

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