Important FAFSA Notice

A change to the 2014-15 FAFSA has resulted in the miscalculation of many applicants’ financial aid eligibility. The addition of an extra data entry box within the income entry field was made to accommodate higher income categories. However, many applicants used this extra space to enter a decimal point and cents. When these applications were processed, the decimal point was not applied to the formula and the cents entered were interpreted as dollar amounts, significantly increasing the applicant’s reported income. For example, if an applicant entered their income as $22,852.19, it was converted to $2,285,219. This error made many students ineligible for some grant and subsidized loan programs.

If you’ve been notified by your school that you fell into this category, please follow their directions and make any corrections requested. If you haven’t been notified and you’re concerned your income may have been entered incorrectly, double check your income listed on your Student Aid Report (SAR) and contact the Federal Student Aid Customer Service Department for additional assistance.

Adding More Schools to Receive Your FAFSA

If you’re planning to visit colleges this summer, you already know how beneficial it can be to step foot on the campuses you’re interested in attending. If you’ve discovered a great new school, but didn’t include it on the list to receive your FAFSA, you’ll want to add it to make sure the school receives your information. It’s never too late to include additional schools and it’s pretty easy, too. To add schools to your FAFSA, simply:

1. Go to FAFSA.gov.
2. Enter your Login information.
3. Select the option to Make FAFSA Corrections.
4. Go to the section where you’ve listed colleges and add the new school code(s). If you’ve already listed ten schools on your FAFSA, you’ll need to delete some to make room for any new school codes.
5. Don’t forget to hit Submit.

Be sure to follow up on your FAFSA changes. Check your email and/or home mailbox to respond to any requests for materials from these additional schools. Watch for award letters and financial assistance offers from the new colleges to help you narrow down your choices. Remember, it’s very important to choose the school that’s the best fit for you!

So, you received an award letter. Now what?

If you submitted a FAFSA and responded to all requests for information from your college of choice, you should have received a financial aid award letter. This letter shows the different types of financial assistance you’re eligible to receive to help cover your college expenses. The award letter may be sent to you via email or snail mail. If you haven’t received it yet, contact your college to find out how they’ll send the letter. Follow these steps when it arrives:

        • Make sure you fully understand each type of financial aid you’re offered.
        • Decide how much and which types of financial assistance to accept or reject.
            • Accept grants and scholarships first because they are considered free money and typically don’t have to be repaid.
            • Beyond grants and scholarships, only accept the amount of aid you’ll need to cover your college costs.
        • Submit your response on time. Many award letters have deadline dates, so pay attention to the details.

Financial aid is a great way to help you pay for college, but don’t neglect your responsibilities. Be sure to answer all requests and read any correspondence from your financial aid office and/or student loan agency.

Summer’s almost here! Have you applied for a summer job?

Now that you’re equipped with plenty of FAFSA knowledge, it’s time to start thinking about the many ways you can earn money for college. If you’ve worked during the summer in the past, you know how good it feels to have spending money for gas, snacks, clothes and fun with friends. It’s also a great way to save money for college expenses and help reduce the amount of money you have to borrow for college. Did you know that there are many other ways a summer job can help you prepare for college?

A summer job can:

    • Allow you to explore career options before choosing a college major.
    • Help you develop a good work ethic and time management skills.
    • Provide access to internships in your chosen career field.
    • Show admissions officers that you are responsible and motivated to succeed in college.
    • Help you develop references and contacts.
    • Give you a chance to shadow someone who currently works in the field in which  you’re interested.
    • Open doors for employment after school.

So, when choosing where you want to work this summer, keep these things in mind and select a job that can provide benefits beyond earning some cash. Then, give yourself a pat on the back for using your summer job to catapult you into your future.

Now that your taxes are done, do you need to update your FAFSA?

If you submitted your FAFSA using estimated figures before filing your tax return, you and/or your parents may need to update your FAFSA to reflect any differences between the estimated amounts you listed and the actual amounts reported on your tax return(s). Here’s what you need to do in order to correct the estimated information:

  1. Log in using your PIN at www.fafsa.gov.
  2. Click on “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
  3. Change tax filing status from “Will File” to “Already Completed.”
  4. Enter your updated tax information
    • If eligible, follow FAFSA’s guidance to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import tax information from the federal tax return.
    • If you aren’t eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you must manually enter your tax information* to reflect your filed 2013 tax return.
  5. Double check your information and don’t forget to click submit!

*If you’re manually entering your new information, be sure to review all dollar amounts—not just income. Your income tax amounts (IRS Form 1040 – Line 55; 1040A – Line 35; or 1040EZ – Line 10) may need to be corrected, too.

Renew Your FAFSA Every Year You Need Aid

The FAFSA will not resubmit itself. Once you’ve submitted the FAFSA for the first time, you’ll need to remember to renew your application each year that you need* financial aid for school.

To simplify the process for next year:

    • Record your FAFSA log-in information and PIN, and save it somewhere safe.
    • Keep your tax information organized throughout the year to save time later.
    • Consider filing your taxes early in the year and take advantage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA.

Don’t forget, many grants and scholarships require information from your submitted FAFSA. Remember to complete and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1 to meet  deadlines.

*Remember, even if you’re not sure you’ll need aid, it’s best to renew your FAFSA anyway so you have access to financial aid if you do, in fact, need it. You can always decline the aid offered to you if you don’t need it to pay for your school expenses.

Seek Out Scholarships

Completing the FAFSA is paramount; however, you shouldn’t stop there. Non-federal, private scholarships abound and they are available for a variety of reasons, not just good grades.

Be sure to check out local organizations that sponsor scholarships, such as your church and community groups. It’s good to apply for local scholarships because you’re competing against fewer people. Check out the following groups for scholarships in your area.

    • YMCA/YWCA
    • Jaycees
    • Chamber of Commerce
    • Rotary Club
    • Elks
    • 4-H Club
    • Kohl’s
    • Wal-mart
    • Kiwanis
    • Target
    • Girl and Boy Scouts
    • McDonald’s

Remember, scholarships are awarded based on a variety of criteria, including need, merit, residency, family history, skills, hobbies and athletics. Scholarship deadlines vary, so you may want to sign up for free online scholarship sources, like FastWeb.com or Scholarships360.org. Many of these sites will notify you when new scholarship opportunities are posted.

UCanGo2.org features a scholarship page that allows students to search for scholarships based on “deadline” or “category.” Check out your local library, too. They may have a variety of books with scholarship listings.

How to Make Changes to Your FAFSA

Changing your FAFSA after you submit online is simple. You can even make changes after it’s been processed.

Follow these steps to make changes to your FAFSA online:

      1. Go to www.fafsa.gov.
      2. Click “Start Here” and log into your account.
      3. Click the “Make FAFSA Corrections” link.
      4. Enter your PIN.
      5. Make your changes.
      6. Submit your updated application.

Click here to learn about the types of changes you can make after you submit your FAFSA.

What’s the Difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?

In our post, 4 Types of Financial Aid You Could Receive through the FAFSA, we discussed how federal financial aid comes in many forms.

One type of federal financial aid you may receive through the FAFSA is student loans. There are basically two types of federal student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Both are low-interest loans offered by the government, but there are a couple of key differences.

Federal Subsidized Student Loan

    • Awarded based on financial need
    • The interest is subsidized (paid) by the government if you’re enrolled at least half-time

Federal Unsubsidized Student Loan

    • Not based on financial need
    • The interest is not subsidized by the government, meaning the borrower must pay all interest, which begins to accrue after the first disbursement has been made

Both types of loans have a 3.86% interest rate for the 2013-2014 school year. Interest rates for 2014-2015 will be announced this summer.

If you receive unsubsidized loans, do your best to pay the interest as it accrues, instead of waiting until after you graduate or withdraw. These payments are generally very manageable, even on a tight budget, and they can save you a significant amount over time.

Lastly, remember that all loans must be paid back, so borrow only what you need for school.

La historia de Ashley

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Read Ashley’s story in English.

Ya escuchaste la historia de Lindsey; ahora es la vuelta de Ashley. Ashley es otra de nuestras estrellas del comercial de FAFSA, ayudándonos a llevar este importante mensaje a nuestra audiencia en español.

Aquí está su historia sobre cómo la FAFSA le ayudó a encontrar la ayuda financiera para la universidad

Mi nombre es Ashley, y asisto a la Universidad de Central Oklahoma en Edmond, con especialización en patología de habla y lenguaje. Desde la escuela primaria, me ha encantado el aprendizaje y se esfuerzan siempre lucho para obtener buenas calificaciones

Cuando escuché por primera vez acerca de la universidad supe que quería ir y continuar mi educación. En la preparatoria fue cuando empecé a escuchar más acerca de la universidad , tomé la decisión de ver lo que yo quería hacer y dónde iba a ir.

Después de que tomé la decisión de asistir, yo sabía que iba a necesitar completar la aplicación de FAFSA. Mi primer pensamiento fue que iba a aplicar para ver si iba a ser elegible para recibir ayuda financiera.

Estoy muy contenta de haberlo hecho! Encontré que hacia fuera califiqué para una concesión de Pell y un préstamo del estudiante. El proceso de FAFSA era simple, y me enteré que cualifique para una beca y un préstamo para estudiantes. La ayuda financiera ha ayudado a alcanzar mis metas porque me ayudo a poder quedarme en los dormitorios de la escuela mi primer año de la universidad. También me ayudó a pagar por mis libros y todos los gastos adicionales.

Yo les recomiendo a los estudiantes a aplicar para ayuda financiera lo mas pronto posible después del 1 de Enero de cada año que necesitan la ayuda.

La solicitud en línea en FAFSA.gov es muy explica por sí mismo. El lado derecho de la página web le dice qué información exactamente le están pidiendo. Y, al final del proceso, recibirá una estimación de la cantidad de ayuda que puede recibir.

Filmando el comercial FAFSA fue muy divertido. A pesar de que estaba muy nerviosa, disfrute cada segundo de el y lo volvería a hacer de nuevo. Me encantaría que pueda ser visto por los estudiantes que desean asistir a la universidad. Mi esperanza es que anime a los estudiantes a solicitar ayuda para que puedan alcanzar sus metas al igual que me ayudo alcanzar el mio.

Para ver el video de Ashley y Lindsey, visite nuestro canal el YouTube. Luego, asegúrese de ver nuestro Finalizar la FAFSA en cinco pasos tutearlos en vídeo para ayudarle a completar su aplicación.