tnAchieves Tips: Here’s what you need to know to file your FAFSA

When applying for the Tennessee Promise scholarship, students are informed of a few crucial requirements involved with receiving aid. One of the most important, and least favored requirements, is annually filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA. To help ease the yearly pain, tnAchieves has created this list of FAFSA know-hows and tried to answer some frequently asked FAFSA questions.

Why is filing the FAFSA important?

Regardless of the fact that you’re a Tennessee Promise student, any student headed to a higher education institution needs to fill out the FAFSA in order to receive federal student aid (financial assistance from the government). However, the fact that you are a Tennessee Promise student makes the FAFSA that much more important. First, filing the FAFSA is a Tennessee Promise requirement. Second, Tennessee Promise is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning you only receive enough financial assistance from the Promise to cover the tuition your federal financial aid and other scholarships do not cover. In other words, you just have to do the FAFSA. 7027595009_f3c5fc23e4_z

What changes have been made to the 2017-2018 FAFSA?

You might be wondering why we’re already nagging you about the FAFSA. Typically the FAFSA application opens as you’re enjoying your last sips of eggnog and ringing in the new year, but now you can file your FAFSA with a pumpkin spice latte by your side.

Change 1- The 2017-2018 FAFSA officially opened on October 1, which means you can begin filing NOW. This earlier application date is a permanent change that will be applied to future FAFSA’s as well. With earlier FAFSA availability, Tennessee Promise has changed the FAFSA filing deadline to January 17, 2017. This new deadline applies to ALL current Tennessee Promise classes, not just the 2017 class.

Change 2- Beginning this year, students must use earlier income and tax information when filing their FAFSA. On the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and parents are required to use income information from 2015 rather than 2016.

Both of these changes have been implemented with the hope of making the FAFSA a less stressful experience for students and parents, according to the Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

What documents do you need to file the FAFSA?

Before you sit down ready to tackle the FAFSA, make sure you have these necessary documents:

  • Student’s Social Security number
  • Parent(s)’ Social Security number(s)
  • Student’s driver’s license/permit/state issued ID number if student has one
  • 2015 tax information for students and parent(s)
  • Records of untaxed income for students and parent(s)- child support, veterans noneducation benefits
  • Checking and savings account balances, investment information and business and farm assets for student and parent(s)
  • Student’s FSA ID username/password
  • Parent’s FSA ID username/password
  • If the student is not a U.S. citizen, they will need their Student’s Alien Registration Number

Once you have the required documents and information, visit fafsa.ed.gov to get started. Any other “FAFSA filing” website (especially those that make you pay; remember FREE Application for Federal Student Aid) is illegitimate.

Information provided by Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation  

Are you an independent student?

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re considered an independent student, visit the chart below. After viewing the chart, if you find you are an independent student then you are exempt from providing your parents’ tax information.

dependency-statusWho is the “parent” in your household?

In some instances, you might not be completely sure whose information to use when filling out the “parents” tax information section on the FAFSA. For more clarity on who could be considered the “parent” in your household situation, follow the flowchart below.

who-is-my-parent

Which schools should you send the FAFSA to?

Even though you definitely want to make sure your Tennessee Promise higher education institution is on the list of schools you’d like your FAFSA to be sent to, you can add any other school you might attend as well. The FAFSA will allow you to send your federal aid information to 10 different schools, so include all schools you’re considering whether they’re Tennessee Promise eligible or not.

Can you make corrections on your FAFSA after submitting?

After an hour of deciphering lines and numbers, it’s easy to make a mistake while filing your FAFSA. If this happens, or your information changes after you’ve already submitted the 2017-2018 application, you will have to go back and correct the information. Depending on the correction, you may be able to manually change the information yourself, or you might have to call your school’s financial aid office. Some updates may not be possible once you’ve submitted the application because the questions are evaluating your information on the day you first filled out your FAFSA.

To manually change your FAFSA:

  1. Go to fafsa.gov
  2. Click on “login” button to access your account
  3. When you arrive at the “My FAFSA” page, click “Make FAFSA Corrections”
  4. Provide your FSA ID
  5. Correct your information
  6. Submit FAFSA with new information

To change your Social Security Number:

If you mis-typed your SSN on your FAFSA, you will have to call your the financial aid office at the higher education institution you plan on attending and ask if you need to re-do your FAFSA.

Required Updates:

Dependency Status- If your dependency status changes from a circumstance other than a change in your marital status, you must update this information on the FAFSA.

Household Numbers- If there is a change in the number of people in your household and you are selected for the verification process, you are required to update your FAFSA information. You will also have to update your information if the number of people in your parents’ house who are attending college changes.

For more information on updating and correcting your FAFSA, visit the Federal Student Aid website. And when in doubt, call the financial aid office at your higher education institution or tnAchieves.

Where can you go if you have questions about your FAFSA?

If you find yourself stuck once you’ve begun your FAFSA, don’t give up! Instead, seek help and utilize the resources below.

7658165122_12d1f71e0b_zWith this information, tnAchieves hopes you have a tear-free, non hair-pulling FAFSA filing experience this year. If you or your parent have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. While we may not have all the answers to your FAFSA questions, we will certainly try to help or point you in the direction of someone who can. Now, take a breath, find a fall-flavored snack and get filing!

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