Walking through a FAFSA wonderland

Marisa Nelson

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paying for college can be an overwhelming process and is often pricey. One resource for students moving from high school to college or moving on to their next year of college is FAFSA.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This means that applying is free, and if individuals are eligible, the government will give students federal funds to pay for higher education. The process begins with navigating your way to the FAFSA website, which is located at https://studentaid.gov. The website gives clear instructions on how to fill out aid request forms as well.

One of the first steps is to create an account if applying for the first time. After creating your account, write down all passwords and usernames individuals may need in the future in a secure location. Students need to apply for FAFSA each year, so having this information handy can make the future process go smoother.

Students applying for aid will need to have access to their Social Security Number and their parent’s SSN if they are a dependent. The student’s driver’s license number, or Alien Registration number if they are not a U.S. citizen, will also be necessary for the application.

FAFSA will also need tax information from the individual who is applying as well as from spouse or parents, depending on the age of the student. On the student aid website, they have also provided a 2020-21 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet, which lists some possible questions that applicants may come across when filing for aid. This can be helpful in preparing and can help alleviate some anxiety.

If filling out an online application is not possible, FAFSA has given the option to fill out the form in the Student Aid mobile app. There is also an option to print a PDF version and mail it in.

The FAFSA application has a larger filing window, but WSU and other higher education institutions may require you to have it in earlier for priority. WSU’s priority deadline is April 1 of 2020, but students can still submit forms after this date. Filing as soon as possible is important to make sure students get their aid before the coming semester they are applying for.

After submitting the forms and selecting which schools’ students would like them sent to, students will receive emails and updates on the status of the federal aid.

If individuals qualify, they will be notified by the school and will be asked to accept awards. These funds will be applied to tuition and can help to cover the ever-increasing costs of college.