Time to Apply for College Financial Aid
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Nov. 28, 2008 – Amidst all the bustle of the holidays, high school
seniors and their families are beginning to think about college and how to pay for it.
The U.S. Department of Education provides the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA), which students file to become eligible for financial aid – scholarships, grants, workstudy and loans – from federal and state resources and from colleges. Some types of aid that
aren’t based on financial need also require the completion of a FAFSA.
The application is free and available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or by calling (800) 433-3243.
Although no professional assistance is required, students can easily miss out on available aid if
their forms are incomplete or incorrectly filled out.
The Iowa College Access Network®
(ICAN) encourages students and their families to make an
appointment if they need assistance. All ICAN services are free, and ICAN outreach
representatives are experienced with FAFSA completion and filing. Tips for Completing the FAFSA
1. Request a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You and at least one of your
parents should apply for a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to use as
electronic signatures on the FAFSA. Go to www.pin.ed.gov to apply.
2. Gather information. Your and your parents’ Social Security numbers, driver's
license numbers and dates of birth are among the personal information required
for the form. You’ll also need federal tax returns, W-2s and information about
asset values and amounts of untaxed income received.
3. File before the Priority Date. Many colleges have a Priority Date – the date you
must file by to be eligible for the majority of grants and scholarships. Look up the
Priority Dates for all the colleges you’re considering and file before the earliest
date. You might need to estimate financial information to meet the Priority Date.
4. Estimate if necessary. The FAFSA for the 2009-2010 school year will be based
on information from the 2008 tax year. Tax information can be estimated from
2007 tax returns, but your FAFSA will need to be updated as soon as 2008 tax
forms are prepared.
5. Use the free Web site. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to file electronically for quicker
processing. Make sure you remember the password you enter (it is casesensitive) when you begin. The password will allow you to save the application
and finish it at a later time.
6. Keep records. Print a copy of the FAFSA for your records. It is also helpful to
start a folder to keep financial aid materials organized. 7. Get help. The FAFSA application can be confusing and some families have
unique situations, but you can get help for free. Financial aid advisors at colleges
can answer specific questions about the aid programs at their school. The ICAN
College Planning Centers are also an excellent resource for free information.
ICAN representatives can answer general financial aid questions and help you
file your FAFSA. To reach a representative, call the College Planning Center at