New Release Date for FAFSA

The new FAFSA filing date is October 1. Learn more at Start With FAFSA dot org.
The new FAFSA will become available Oct. 1 this year.

Question: What’s new and improved about the FAFSA for the 2016-17 school year?

Answer: College students and high school seniors will be able to submit the FAFSA beginning October 1, 2016, instead of waiting until Jan. 1, 2017. Learn more about these changes at StudentAid.gov.

Stay in touch and we’ll keep you informed!

  • The upcoming changes to the FAFSA offer numerous benefits for students and parents. As more information becomes available, we’ll share it with you here at StartWithFAFA.org.
  • Like us on Facebook for information about a wide variety of scholarships and college planning tips for students.
  • Visit us at UCanGo2.org for an abundance of information about planning, preparing and paying for college.

How to Get a Head Start This Summer

If you’ll be a senior in high school this fall you may already be showing early signs of senioritis*. You’re probably busy wondering where you’ll go to college, what classes you’ll take, and whether or not you’ll live on campus. While going to college or a career technology center is a great new chapter in your life, don’t forget about one of the most important things… paying for it!

The one form you’ll need to apply for federal financial aid and some state aid is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will be available Oct. 1 this year. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid.

To electronically sign and complete the FAFSA online, you and your parent will each need an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). The FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll use to access your FAFSA, make corrections, access income tax documents and sign the form. Creating your FSA ID takes about 7-10 minutes, so why not do it this summer? Here’s what you do:

    1. From a secure computer go to the Federal Student Aid website.
    2. Create a username and password, and enter your email address.
    3. Enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information and challenge questions and answers.
    4. Review your information, and read and accept the terms and conditions.
    5. Confirm your email address using the secure code, which will be sent to the email address you entered when you created your FSA ID. Once you verify your email address, you can use it instead of your username to log in.

You can use your FSA ID to sign a FAFSA right away. Only the owner of the FSA ID should create and use the account and you should never share your FSA ID.

Now you’ve completed one important step in the FAFSA process. Hang on to the FSA ID information to use in early October when you complete your FAFSA. You’ll also use the FSA ID in future years, so be sure to save it somewhere safe and somewhere you’ll remember it.

*Senioritis: Noun
A supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.
“I try not to let my grades suffer from my senioritis”

There’s Still Time

With finals just around the corner, and graduation coming up in a week or two, have you put college on the back burner? Maybe you aren’t even sure you want to go to college or a career tech. Whatever you’re thinking, just know that it’s not too late! While it’s best to apply to college and complete financial aid applications early, you can still accomplish these tasks.

Talk with your school counselor about your best options and check out some classes offered at a nearby community college or career tech. These types of schools are typically less expensive and could open your eyes to some great career opportunities you may not have considered.

Some colleges and technology centers also offer discounted or free tuition to students who have attended a particular high school or live in a certain area. Your counselor can share information about these options. If you have the chance to attend college for free … take it!

You’ll also want to apply for financial aid to help with some of your educational expenses. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to apply for federal and state aid for college. Go to www.FAFSA.gov to complete this form and submit it online.

Visit a College Campus

With so many great colleges in Oklahoma, it may difficult to choose one!

If you’re having trouble choosing which college to attend this fall plan a few campus visits. A tour of a college campus can give you a more realistic picture of what college life will be like, as well as the opportunity to ask questions such as, “Where will I park,” “Does this campus have a gym or wellness center,” and “What’s the food like in the cafeteria?”  Not only will you have your questions answered, but you will see all of the places that you may be asking about. Bring a copy of our “Making the Most of Campus Visits Guide” to help you along the way.

While you’re on your tour, be sure to talk to some students and ask them what they like/dislike about the college. Drop by the Student Union and check out the information about student organizations that are active on campus. And, last but not least, make it a point to drop by the financial aid office, where you’ll find valuable information about the financial aid process and scholarships that may be available to you.

There’s room for 10 different college codes on the FAFSA, so the form can serve as a great comparison tool if you’re still trying to decide which school to attend.  It’s perfectly fine if you haven’t made your final decision before you submit your FAFSA. Just remember to go back and add any schools you’re interested in attending as soon as possible so the college can receive your financial aid data. To add a school code to your FAFSA, simple log in at FAFSA.gov and go to Make FAFSA Corrections. You’ll receive an updated Student Aid Report (SAR) within a few days showing the additional new school code(s).

 

How Do I Enter My Final Tax Figures?

If you used tax estimates on your FAFSA and it’s been three weeks since you filed your taxes with the IRS online, then it’s time to update your FAFSA with your final tax information. Here’s how:

  • Go to fafsa.gov and log in with your FSA ID.
  • Enter your Save Key, if prompted.
  • Click on Financial Information and change your answer from ‘Will file’ an IRS income tax return to ‘Already completed’ your tax return.
  • Answer the questions that follow to see if you qualify to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). If you do, you will be given an option to link to the IRS website and will then transfer your 2015 tax information to your FAFSA.
  • Students and parents may each use the IRS DRT to update their individual tax information
  • Once completed, be sure to enter your FSA ID on the last page as your signature and then click ‘Submit My FAFSA Now’.

You may also choose to enter your actual tax figures manually if the IRS DRT is not an option for you. Once your updated FAFSA has been submitted, the new figures will be sent directly to the schools listed on your application. If your financial aid office requires any additional information, they will contact you directly. If you have questions, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Oklahoma’s Promise Day

Oklahoma’s Promise allows eighth-, ninth- or 10th-grade students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn a college tuition scholarship. Students must also meet academic and conduct requirements in high school.

On April 19, Oklahoma’s Promise will hold a rally at the State Capitol to show appreciation for Governor Fallin and the Legislature’s ongoing support of the Oklahoma’s Promise program and to encourage elected officials to continue to protect the program’s dedicated funding source.

The Rally will be held at Oklahoma State Capitol, 2nd floor rotunda at 2 p.m.

Email okpromiseday@osrhe.edu to confirm you will join us!

Your Acronym Glossary

Acronyms, schmacroynms! What do they all mean? As you navigate your way through the financial aid process you’ll run across plenty of three to four letter terms that may seem like a foreign language. Let us try to help make some sense of it all!

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
Your or your family’s wages, salaries, interest, dividends, etc., minus certain deductions from income as reported on a federal income tax return. Commonly referred to as AGI.

Agreement to Serve (ATS)
The binding agreement you must sign to receive a TEACH Grant. By signing the ATS, you agree to teach (1) full-time, (2) in a high-need field, (3) at a low-income school or educational service agency that serves certain low-income schools, and (4) for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing (or ceasing enrollment in) the course of study for which you received the grant.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and dependent care. It also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer; costs related to a disability; and reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs.

Data Release Number (DRN)
The four-digit number assigned to your FAFSA that allows you to release your FAFSA data to schools you did not list on your original FAFSA. You need this number if you contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to make corrections to your mailing address or the schools you listed on your FAFSA. You find this number below the confirmation number on your FAFSA submission confirmation page or in the top right-hand corner of your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
This is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA, the application for federal student aid. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

FAFSA
Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FREE application used to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, loans, and work-study.

FSA ID
The FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as a student’s or parent’s identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems and acts as a digital signature on some online forms.

Satisfactory Academic Programs (SAP)
A school’s standards for satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate offered by that institution.

Student Aid Report (SAR)
A summary of the information you submitted on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You receive this report via e-mail a few days after your FAFSA has been processed. If there are no corrections or additional information you must provide, the SAR will contain your EFC, which is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

To learn more about financial aid terms, check out the glossary through the U.S. Department of Education.

Common FAFSA Corrections and Modifications

Perhaps you’ve had a change in circumstances since you submitted the FAFSA, or you’ve discovered that even with the help of FAFSA.gov’s built-in fact checker your FAFSA contains an error. Here are some of the most common pieces of information to be updated or corrected:

  • Your marital status
  • Your parents’ marital status
  • The death of a parent or sibling
  • Employment status
  • Major medical expenses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Parents’/stepparents’ income
  • Untaxed income
  • Income taxes paid
  • Household size
  • Number of household members in college
  • Real estate and investment net worth

So, what happens if you’ve made a mistake? If necessary, corrections to FAFSA data may be made by:

  • Visiting FAFSA.gov and accessing your data with your FSA ID.
  • Requesting changes through the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend. (you’ll need your Data Release Number, or DRN.)
  • Submitting documentation to the college’s financial aid office.

If you used last year’s tax information as an estimate when filing the FAFSA, it is also required that you make the correction once you’ve filed 2015 taxes.

College Planning Tools for You!

StartWithFAFSA.org is part of the outreach initiative at the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP). OCAP provides college access, aid awareness, financial literacy and student loan management services that benefit students, parents, schools and community partners. OCAP’s initiatives include UCanGo2, Oklahoma Money Matters and Ready Set Repay, each of which offers resources and tools designed specifically for you, including:

College Planning Checklists – provide high school students detailed information about the steps they must take not only to gain admission to a college or university, but also to be successful in high school and college. From what classes to take to financial aid application guidelines, these checklists offer useful information for every high school student.

Your Money Matters Guides – designed to help students and adults manage finances, each guide is tailored to provide specific information based on your current financial situation.

Borrow Smart from the Start – provides information to help students understand the smart and responsible way to borrow student loans. Whether you’re preparing for college and considering student loans for the first time, in your grace period or currently repaying your loan, this publication provides everything a student loan borrower needs to know before borrowing.

Each of our initiatives offers a variety of information and resources designed to fit your needs. Check out our publications/resources pages at UCanGo2.org, OklahomaMoneyMatters.org and ReadySetRepay.org to find more useful tools and information.

Oklahoma’s Financial Aid Programs

The state of Oklahoma offers several financial aid programs. Start applying for these programs by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant Program (OTAG)
OTAG is a need-based program for Oklahoma residents who are enrolled full-time or part-time in undergraduate courses at eligible colleges, universities and career technology centers in Oklahoma. The OTAG application is available within the FAFSA. OTAG funds are limited, so it’s important to submit the FAFSA as early as possible each year you need financial aid for college.

Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant Program (OTEG)
OTEG awards grants to Oklahoma students attending eligible not-for-profit, private or independent institutions. Funds are limited for this program, so be sure to submit your FAFSA early.

Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship Program
Oklahoma’s Promise allows eighth-, ninth- or 10th-grade students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn a college tuition scholarship. Students must also meet academic and conduct requirements in high school and submit the FAFSA during their senior year of high school. Upon completion of the program’s requirements, students earn:

  • Tuition at an Oklahoma public two-year college or four-year university.
  • OR a portion of tuition at an accredited Oklahoma private college or university.
  • OR a portion of tuition for courses at public technology centers that are approved for credit toward an Associate of Applied Science degree at a public college.

Academic Scholars Program
The Academic Scholars Program awards scholarships to Oklahoma residents who score in the 99.5 percentile on the ACT or SAT exam. It’s also available to students who are named National Merit Scholars or finalists, Presidential Scholars or Institutional Nominees.

Other scholarship opportunities unique to the state of Oklahoma include:

Be sure and check these out to see if you’re eligible!