Fafsa, Dominique Gun, Reporter discussed on Parenting: Difficult Conversations
There is a lot of money out there to help you pay for college. We were talking federal aid state aid, even scholarships to the university you want to go to, and all you have to do to tap into that money is fill out a wonky kind of long complex government form. It's called the FAFSA the free application for federal student aid that's F.. A. F. S. A. Sounds like a party, right But remember at the end of this could be a lot of money and we know that every year lots of students miss out on that money they just leave it on the table because they don't fill out this form. I'm here with higher education reporter listen Nadkarni Halabja Hey Lauren and we're GonNa talk about everything you need to know to apply for that money and why you should do it sooner rather than later. So let's just jump in and start at square one. What is the FAFSA for those students and parents who have not yet had the joy of filling out this application? Well, the most important thing you need to know is that it's free. So the FAFSA is a federal questionnaire that students fill out to find out if they're eligible for money to help pay for college and it determines how much money you'd get someone told me recently that it's like this key and once you get this key, it opens up the door to a whole bunch of money for you to go to college. Okay. What kind of money are we talking here then? Well, it's not just loans. A lot of people think that it is you know it does include loans of course, but also includes grants and scholarships. That is money that you don't have to pay back in order to be eligible for a lot of scholarships and grants at the state level or at the college you're thinking of applying to you have to have filled out the FAFSA. So it really is that first step to tapping into a whole bunch of money. Okay. So who fills us out is that just college students or is that anyone anybody who is thinking? They might want to go to college with in the next year. So I know times are super uncertain right now. But even if you're thinking about going to school or a few classes, you'll still want to fill out the FAFSA because once you know the aid you're eligible for it can really start making the whole college thing seem more doable and more possible because there's going to be money behind it even if you're someone who thinks you wouldn't qualify for financial aid, fill it out because you might be surprised. Okay. All right. You've convinced me I'll. Ask Sir. What kind of questions are they gonNA ask me. So the first few questions are mostly demographic questions they're trying to get to know you as A. Where do you live where you going to school? How many people are in your family and then it's going to move toward the financial questions how much money did you report making on your taxes last year? How much money do you have in savings? How much money do your parents have? It could feel kind of overwhelming I. WanNa play a little tape from Dominique Gun who's a college adviser in Columbus Ohio she says it's not uncommon for her students to be apprehensive about the FAFSA, but there is no need. To worry the unknowns. What's scary right? Like I don't know what this forum is I've never heard of it before have all these weird letters. What is why don't you to sit down look at it? Do it submit then you like oh? Why wasn't even that bad. So just sit down and do it done. told me that on average it takes her students about thirty to forty five minutes to fill this out. But of course, could be faster. Okay. Thirty to forty five minutes that doesn't sound too bad. Yeah. That's happened into a whole bunch of money. The other cool thing about the FAFSA is that you can start and stop it like you don't have to do it all in one sitting. So if you get stumped on a question or honestly for just tired, you can save it does it and then come back and revisit it later. Okay. So if we do get stumped, we're GonNa talk about where you can go for help and just a minute. But first of all, what's deadline? When do I feel this out? While the sooner, the better, the website where you fill out the FAFSA OPENS UP October first. So it's October right now a lot of people call this FAFSA season. I talked with Sarah Akitas. She runs a nonprofit that provides college counseling to high school students in Dallas and Houston actually Qatar as she was wrapping up a virtual fafsa workshop. Let's listen. Many states and a lot of institutional funds are first-come-first-served. And what that means is that earlier you get in line the more money, you could potentially receive from a particular institution. Experts say the worst thing you can do when it comes to the college process is missing deadlines and that's especially true when it comes to getting money to pay for college The reality is like if you think of this as the first step in the college process, just check it off, get it off your to do list early October and then you can start to think about like what schools you WanNa. Do like what the to the stuff? Exactly let's get this out of the way. All, right. So what do I need to fill out the application like what kind of documents and things should I have prepared before me and my parents sit down to fill it out Well the first thing you're going to need is something called an FFA ide-. It's actually on a different website. The URL IS FSA dot E. D. Dot Gov but I just Google FFA and it comes up it's basically your electronic signature, which is nice because it means you don't have to print anything out and sign it, and then figure out how to get it back to your computer your Fsi D- does that. For you so you're GonNa need that before you begin filling out the FAFSA okay. So I'M GONNA. Go to this other website. I'M GONNA get an FSI. I what else? Okay. Then the other documents you're going to need our your social security number. So maybe you have like a little card that you keep in your wallet or you just memorized yours if you're not a US citizen, you'll need your permanent resident number. And then the other thing you're going to need our you or your parents taxes from twenty, nine, thousand nine. Okay. So there's this really cool tool built into the FAFSA. It actually talks to the IRS website and polls in your last year's taxes. But everyone I've talked to said it's really helpful if you just have those paper documents in front of you so you can reference stuff or if something's wrong, you can confirm it. Here's Dominique Gun, the college adviser from Ohio, the Luli all were. Doing a plugging and chugging plugging information in moving onto the next stage for the average student, your parents tax documents, or yours will totally be enough. Okay. So I think I'm starting to get an understanding of what they're doing here. They're looking at your taxes to get a sense of how much money you or your family made to see how much financial aid you're going to need for college but this year's crazy let's say my parents lost their job in June What do I do now? You know what? This is happening to a lot of people. Last year was probably a much better financial year for the family then twenty twenty. But for the FAFSA, you still have to fill out with your twenty nineteen tax data. That's how the FAFSA works. It's a government document, but you're not out of luck you know schools.