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:  

  1. The 2018-19 FAFSA became available last Sunday. File as soon as possible to maximize your chances of receiving financial aid.
  2. To file a 2018-19 FAFSA, you’ll use your family’s tax and income information from 2016.
  3. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT, lets you pull tax information directly into your FAFSA. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 26, 2018 at 9:12am.