Iowa College Aid Insider: Applying for College & Financial Aid (Oct. 2017)
It’s FAFSA time!
The window to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid for 2018-19 opened this week. If you plan to be in college next year, you must file a FAFSA to qualify for federal grants, federal work-study programs, federal loans and many forms of state and school-based aid. Here are five things to know about the 2018-19 FAFSA:
- The 2018-19 FAFSA became available last Sunday. File as soon as possible to maximize your chances of receiving financial aid.
- To file a 2018-19 FAFSA, you’ll use your family’s tax and income information from 2016.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT, lets you pull tax information directly into your FAFSA.
- DRT security has been upgraded this cycle, so your IRS data will be encrypted. You’ll see the words “Transferred from the IRS” instead of your personal information.
- You can find more tips and tools for FAFSA filing here.
Make your college visits count
College visits play a valuable part in your school selection process. Whether you’re traveling a serious distance or visiting a school in your hometown, you’ll get the most benefit if you prepare ahead of time. Here’s what to do:
- Tell them you’re coming. Make appointments with the admissions and financial aid offices, and have a list of questions ready. Examples: “What’s the acceptance rate for students in my major?” “Does this school offer any scholarships specific to my major?”
- Get the student experience. Sit in on a class, eat in a cafeteria and, if possible, spend a night in a dorm. The more you understand the day-to-day routine, the better judgment you can make about how well a school suits you.
- Have conversations. Talk to students and professors, not just your tour guide. Focus on academic areas and extracurricular activities that interest you.
An in-person visit is ideal, but most campuses also offer virtual tours if travel isn’t practical.
Seniors: Sign up for free texting tool
Up Next is a free texting tool that can help you through the process of choosing a college and then applying for admission and financial aid. If you are currently a high school senior, sign up by texting your first and last names to (240) 623-8319. Up Next is provided by the nonprofit Better Make Room.