Empowering students and guiding families

FSA ID for college financial aid

You may have heard that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is opening early this year… and from now on. What does this mean? To receive need-based financial aid for college all students will need to fill out the FAFSA. Students who may not be eligible for need-based aid, but want to take advantage of Federal loans, and in some cases, merit aid, will also need to fill out the FAFSA. Beginning this year, the FAFSA will open on October 1. This is three months earlier than in the past. What will this mean? It’s hard to say. Will students get their financial aid reports from schools earlier? Time will tell. So, what do you need to do? You can’t file for the FAFSA until October 1, but you can make sure that your, (and your parents) 2015 tax returns are all done and filed. You can also get your FSA ID.

What is this FSA ID that you speak of? Good question. The FSA ID is a way to electronically sign your FAFSA and also a way to gain access to other important financial aid forms, (think loans). Every student who is applying for financial aid for college should have a FSA ID….and they will need one of their parents to have this FSA ID as well. If you plan to file your first FAFSA this fall you need to wait until October 1st, but there is something that you can do now. You, and a parent, can get your FSA ID by going to www.fsaid.ed.gov . You will need social security numbers and birth dates to get an ID. It is recommended for parents, and really necessary for students, to use an email address, one for each of you,  that you will have access to until your student loans are paid. This is a great time to come up with a gmail address that you can use for college applications and shouldn’t be anything that is ridiculous like partygrl@gmail.com. I don’t know if this is taken, but just don’t go there! Students and parents cannot share an email address when there are setting up separate FSA IDs.

If your parents have older kids who have gone through the financial aid process, they may already have a PIN number. If they remember what it is, they can merge it with the new FSA ID  system. If the PIN number system means nothing to you then just focus on the FSA ID. This is what you need to have in 2016 and beyond.

So, why would you get your ID now if you don’t need to file until October? Good question. The answer is because whatever you can do now you won’t have to do later when you are worried about college applications. It is also something that needs to be done correctly so if you have more time and concentration now then you might have two hours before a financial aid deadline then I would suggest that you take advantage of that. When applying for your FSA ID be sure to read the instructions and make sure that all the info is correct. You only have one SS# so make sure that you are accurate in entering it!

One other thing to think about. You will have an opportunity to have your email verified. This can be very helpful later if you don’t remember your user name and password (do you have a system to keep track of usernames and passwords? This might be a good time to start). By verifying your email….and this is the basic gmail that doesn’t suggest to colleges anything about your social life, it will be a lot easier to get into your account should you forget your user name, password, or choose to change your security questions. To get your email verified, you will need to put in your email and then retrieve a code from said email, within ten minutes or so, and enter this code. Once this is done you are all good. Your social security # will be linked with this email and you will have easy access to your information for years to come.

It may not seem like much, but believe me, you will be happy that you have done this later. Fall of senior year is incredibly busy with applications, AP classes, and leadership obligations. By doing this now it will be so very easy to apply for financial aid and complete the FAFSA come Oct. 1. One last word on financial aid-check all your deadlines. Know when your first deadline is and make sure that you file for maximum considerations for aid. Also, know if you need to file the Profile. This separate financial aid application (owned by Collegeboard) often has different deadlines. Preparing now will save you lots of angst (SAT word?) later!

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