Monthly Features

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) wants to know my neck size??

OK, so we used this title to get your attention, the FAFSA does not ask your neck size.  If you are a football player, a university may be interested in it, however. 

The National Center for College Costs conducts FAFSA days at several locations.  We have staff available to answer questions and interpret the results of the FAFSA once the family has the Expected Family Contribution.  This feature article will address some of the questions families who attend the FAFSA day were not expecting.   INDIANA RESIDENTS MUST SUBMIT THE FAFSA NO LATER THAN MARCH 10, 2016 TO RECEIVE MAXIMUM ELIGIBILITY.   Some colleges or universities may have earlier FAFSA submission dates for their possible additional aid; check the website or call the financial aid office to see if your school has an earlier submission date.   

Now for those questions you were not expecting.

  • I THOUGHT COMPLETING THE FAFSA WAS FREE?  THE WEBSITE SAYS IT WILL COST $79.00 TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA! 

    You must go to http://www.fafsa.gov.  This is the official website to complete the FAFSA.  There are other websites that charge a fee to complete the FAFSA.  They will ask you the same questions and complete the FAFSA for you, FOR A FEE.  If you have to answer the questions anyway, why not go to the official website and complete the FAFSA for free?
  • THE FAFSA HAS DEADLINES LISTED FOR EACH STATE, WHAT IF I AM GOING TO AN OUT OF STATE SCHOOL?  WHAT IF I MISS THE DEADLINE?

    You must submit the FAFSA by the deadline listed for your state of residence, it does not matter where you plan to attend college.  Every year we get calls the day after the deadline, DO NOT MISS YOUR STATE DEADLINE!  The calls we receive from families who have missed the state deadline and need financial aid are the most painful we receive.  In most instances they have missed out on financial aid they would have received.  These students may have to take out additional loans or risk being able to attend college at all.
  • I AM NOT A U.S. CITIZEN OR PERMANENT RESIDENT, I KNOW I CANNOT CURRENTLY RECEIVE FINANCIAL AID FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WHY SHOULD I COMPLETE A FAFSA? 

    Most colleges will require you to complete the FAFSA to be eligible for any institutional scholarships.  The college may have other suggestions to help with your funding.  Without your financial information they cannot know you need help with the expenses to attend college.
  • WHY DO THEY ASK IF MY SON HAS REGISTERED WITH THE SELECTIVE SERVICE? 

    Most male students must register with Selective Service to receive federal aid.  If your son has not registered you are given the option to have him registered with the completion of the FAFSA.
  • WHAT IS A WORK-STUDY JOB?  WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW IF I AM INTERESTED IN A WORK-STUDY JOB?

    A work-study job is financial aid the student earns while working specific jobs, usually on campus.  Work-study income does not diminish the financial aid a student may be eligible for in the subsequent year.  Most schools have limited work-study jobs available; if you answer no, you will not be considered for this opportunity. Work-study jobs can build your resume, give you additional people for a recommendation and may lead you to future employers.  You can answer yes, and then decline the job at a later date.
  • CAN I COMPLETE MY FAFSA BEFORE MY PARENTS HAVE FILED THEIR TAX RETURN?

    You can complete the FAFSA with good estimates of your income and taxes paid.  When asked about your tax return you can answer, I will file but have not yet completed my return.  This will give you the opportunity to submit the information to the financial aid office and get a preliminary financial aid award.  You must go back and complete the FAFSA with actual numbers from your tax return once it is completed or you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your information to the FAFSA electronically. For Indiana students the FAFSA must be SUBMITTED by March 10; for those who submitted with income estimates, the corrections must be made by May 15.
  • I AM NOT MARRIED ON THE DAY I FILE THE FAFSA BUT EXPECT TO BE MARRIED BEFORE I START COLLEGE? 

    You must report your marital status as of the date your file the FAFSA. 
  • MY PARENT, WHO I LIVE WITH, WAS NOT MARRIED LAST YEAR BUT HAS RECENTLY REMARRIED, DO I HAVE TO REPORT MY STEPPARENT FINANCIAL INFORMATION? 

    If you have a stepparent on the day you file the FAFSA, their financial information must be reported on the FAFSA.  There are no exceptions.  Filing taxes separately, pre-nuptial agreements or divorce documents doesn’t change this; stepparent financial information must be reported on the FAFSA.
  • I FILED A 1040 AND THE FAFSA WANTS TO KNOW IF I WAS ELIGIBLE TO FILE A 1040EZ OR 1040A?  HOW DO I KNOW IF I WAS ELIGIBLE TO FILE EITHER OF THESE TAX FORMS?

    In general a person is eligible to file a 1040A or 1040EZ if he/she makes less than $100,000, does not itemize deductions, does not receive income from his/her own business or farm and does not receive alimony.  Still not sure? You may need to contact your tax preparer. 
  • THE FAFSA ASKS IF I EXPECT TO LIVE ON CAMPUS?  WHAT IF I AM NOT SURE?  WHY DO THEY NEED TO KNOW NOW? 

    You will receive a financial aid award from the universities you have listed on the FAFSA.  This will include everything for the “Cost of Attendance.”  Your financial aid award will include your costs for living on campus if that is your indication.  Just because you answer yes on the FAFSA this is not a binding contract.  This allows the college to create a financial aid award with your expected expenses if you do live on campus.  You can decline living on campus later. 

These are just a few of the questions we address with families.  We are sure when you complete the FAFSA you will stumble upon more questions you were not expecting.  You can call the FAFSA Hotline, 1-800-433-3243, or do a live chat by visiting, www.fafsa.gov ; click on the help button in the top bar, click on contact us and there is an option for a live chat to get additional help with the FAFSA.  



Publication Date: January 2016

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