Understanding the FAFSA

Understanding the FAFSA
27 Oct 2016

It’s Matt from AskForMatt.com again, and today, I had a client call me asking about FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Immediately, I thought how this would make a great topic for blogging!

“My son’s getting ready to go to college,” she said. “And filling this out is night and day difference from when he graduated from high school.” See, her son had taken some time to work, earn income, and save it for school. The FAFSA equation has three main parts:

  1. The parent’s expected contribution based on their income and assets
  2. The student’s expected contribution based on their income and assets
  3. Other available assistance, such as
    1. Student loans
    2. Grants
    3. Scholarships

FAFSA can be complicated, but a delay in filling it out can make getting financial aid tough. From NerdWallet.com, here are some things for you to know:

  • You need an ID, which you can obtain at fafsa.ed.gov
  • There are a number of things that you need to have ready to go before you start filling out the forms
    • Student’s Social Security Card
    • Student’s driver’s license (if any)
    • Student’s 2015 W-2 forms
    • Student’s 2015 Federal Income Tax Return
    • Student’s 2015 untaxed income records
    • Student’s current bank statements
    • Parents’ Federal Income Tax Return
    • Parents’ 2015 W-2 forms
    • Parents’ bank statements
    • Parents’ untaxed income records
    • Parents’ current business and investment records
  • How you fill out your FAFSA depends on your family status

Now, this may seem like a whole lot of information, but you should have it all available to you already. And, because filling out a FAFSA can seem like a daunting task, here’s another breakdown from NerdWallet.com in the form of a checklist, just for you and your student:

  • Make your FSA ID.
  • Add FAFSA deadlines to your calendar.
  • Gather the right documents.
  • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  • List the colleges where you want to apply.
  • Complete additional financial aid forms if they’re required.
  • Review your Student Aid Report.
  • Update your FAFSA if necessary.
  • Go through the verification process if you’re selected.
  • Review your financial aid award package.
  • Appeal your award if you believe you deserve more.
  • Renew your FAFSA every year of college.

I hope that you found this blog helpful! As always, if you have any questions about this or other subjects, feel free to AskForMatt.com!


Matt Westberry

As an independent financial professional, Matthew R. Westberry’s goal is to help you create a personalized investment plan that is unique to your situation, attitude and goals. He is dedicated to building long term relationships and providing continued service to ensure that your objectives are met. Matt takes a personalized approach with his clients, he will sit down at your kitchen table, take the complex issues facing retirees & pre-retirees and put together a comprehensive, easy to understand plan that will help you achieve your financial goals. Matt graduated from Coe College in 2005 where he majored in Business Administration and Economics. Matt is currently enrolled in The American College of Financial Services Certified Financial Program. He believes that continuing his education benefits both him and his clients. Matt is currently an Investment Advisor Representative with Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. He holds the series 6, 7, 63 and 65 licenses as well as accident, health and life insurance licenses. Matt currently resides in Marion, IA with his wife Cassandra and son Landry.