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FAFSA Tips to Avoid Common Financial Aid Mistakes

After deciding to attend college, most prospective students have questions about how to apply for financial aid. If you plan to apply for funding from the federal government, the first thing you should do is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information that you provide on this form will determine whether you’re eligible for loans, grants, and other types of financial aid at the federal level. If you receive more than half of your financial support from your parents, they’ll need to submit information on the FAFSA as well.

Get Started with the FAFSA

The easiest way to complete your FAFSA is to go directly to their website and select the link for the online form. If this is your first time completing the form, you’ll need to create an account. For returning users who have already established their identity and set up a personal identification number (PIN), you should click on Login to resume your application.

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Info Needed to Complete This Form

You’ll have to gather a significant amount of information when applying for federal financial aid. Here’s a helpful list of some items—other than your name and contact information—that the FAFSA will require from you:

  1. The government assigns a code to each post-secondary institution eligible to receive federal funds in the form of student aid. You can find these codes at the same link where you access the form. Enter the code for each school that you plan to apply to. Academy of Art University’s code is 007531.
  2. Create a federal student aid identification number (FSA ID). This number provides you with ongoing access to federal student aid websites.
  3. Have your valid driver’s license number or other type of identification number on hand before starting the process. This is typically a long series of letters and numbers on your license or ID card.
  4. Your parents must submit their latest tax forms information if they can claim you as a dependent on their tax returns. You’ll have to do the same, whether you’re dependent or independent.
  5. The application asks for information about untaxed income, such as child support. If your parents are no longer together, then the parent who receives child support should report it as income. The same applies even if the child support is received in behalf of your siblings.
  6. The federal student aid program considers all sources of income available to the student, including potential ones. Therefore, prepare proof of investments and income (ie. bank statements or investment reports) from you and your parents.

Don’t Miss the Filing Deadline for Your State

Deadlines for the completion of the FAFSA varies in every state. Visit this page for the updated deadlines for all 50 states and the U.S. territories. You can also look up your state and the school year of attendance at the bottom of the FAFSA home page.

Got more questions? Academy of Art University has the answers. Reach out to us at 415.274.2222 or visit our financial aid FAQs for help with your financial aid application.