You’re about to begin another academic year, full of promise—with maybe just a few challenges thrown in here and there.
Whether you’re a returning college student or just entering college for the first time, you may have questions about how you can cover the costs of college this year. Here are some tips to consider:
- Check your FSA ID status. This is the user name and password that you set up before you filed your first FAFSA, and it serves as your electronic signature. If you haven’t used your FSA ID in a while, it may need to be re-enabled. This can be done at the manage my FSA ID tab at fsaid.ed.gov.
- If you haven’t already, submit your FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still available for academic year 2018-2019. Go to FAFSA.gov to start your application.
- Apply for institutional aid (scholarships that come from your college), and reapply each semester.
- Search for more scholarships. To start, we suggest UCanGo2.org and okcollegestart.org.
Find a part-time job. Many schools participate in the federal work-study program. If you demonstrate financial need, you may be able to work part-time on campus or an approved site off-campus. The money you earn at a work-study job is then used to help you pay your college expenses. If you don’t qualify for work-study or your school doesn’t participate in the WS program, watch for job opportunities posted around your campus and online.
So you’re finishing up your senior year of high school and about to transition to life as a college student. It may be tempting to use your summer break as a time to relax and recover from your final year of high school, but it’s important to begin prepping for your upcoming college experience.
If you haven’t already filled out the FAFSA, it’s not too late. You will need to complete the 2018-19 form if you are starting classes in the fall of 2018. It can take a couple weeks for your college to send you your financial aid award letter, so complete your FAFSA as soon as possible.
The summer is also the perfect time to apply for scholarships. Use some of your extra time to complete scholarship applications. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of winning! Don’t forget about scholarships provided by your college or university, too. For more information on those, call the campus financial aid office. You can also find a list of scholarships at UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org
If you will be living on campus, you can use the summer to start coordinating dorm needs with your roommate. You should also take a look at the school’s website to start reviewing potential associations, clubs or activities to join. Make sure you don’t overextend yourself, though; transitioning successfully from high school to college takes focus.
For more tips on preparing for college, check out our primer for high school seniors, Your Transition to College.
The 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened on Oct. 1, and the IRS DRT is available for students once again. What is the IRS DRT, you ask? The Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) is a feature located inside the FAFSA. It allows students and parents to transfer 2016 tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. There are several benefits to using the IRS DRT.
First, it saves time as you’re completing the FAFSA. Instead of hunting for the correct numbers on your tax forms and running the risk of making an error, you’ll simply type a few words, click a few buttons, and the bulk of the tax questions on your FAFSA will be complete!
Second, using the IRS DRT reduces your chances of being selected for verification. Verification is the process your school uses to confirm the information provided on the FAFSA is accurate. During the verification process, your school may request various documents to verify the information provided on your FAFSA. Errors that occur when entering tax information manually can cause a student to be selected for verification.
Finally, if you do happen to be selected for verification, having used the IRS DRT will simplify the process. If you use the IRS DRT and are selected for verification, you will not have to provide any documentation to verify tax data. Your school will know it is accurate since it was transferred directly from the IRS into your FAFSA.
If you’ve used the IRS DRT in previous years, you’ll notice that it looks a little different this year. The DRT no longer shows any dollar amounts to the student or parent. This change was made to increase the security of your information during the transfer process.
While using the IRS DRT is optional, students and parents are encouraged to use the tool to create a smoother and more accurate application process.
Completing the FAFSA is as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5!
- Gather Materials – You’ll need your social security card, current bank statements and, if you’re a dependent student, your parent(s)’ information. For the 2018-2019 FAFSA, you’ll also need your 2016 W2s and tax returns.
- Create an FSA ID – This username and password is used to electronically sign your FAFSA and other important financial aid paperwork. Visit fsaid.ed.gov to sign up.
- Fill It Out – The FAFSA is available at FAFSA.gov after Oct. 1 each year. Check out the Help and Hints box on the right side of the screen for assistance on answering each question.
- Sign & Submit – Enter your FSA ID to serve as your electronic signature. Don’t forget to click Submit at the bottom of the screen.
- Follow Up – Watch your email for a Student Aid Report (SAR) and information from the schools who’ve received your FAFSA results. Be sure to follow up with the financial aid office at your school if you have additional questions.
For more details, check out Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps or watch the Finish the FAFSA in Five videos, available in English and Spanish.
NEVER pay to complete the FAFSA; the FAFSA is always free. As a matter of fact, that’s what the first F stands for:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
If you plan to submit the form online, be sure to file at FAFSA.gov, and avoid sites that offer to file your FAFSA for a hefty fee. Always check for the “.gov” to make sure you’re in the right place!
Oct. 1 is quickly approaching, and we all know what happens then, right? The 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) opens! Take these steps now to prepare.
- Create your FSA ID. The Federal Student Aid ID is a username and password used to electronically sign your FAFSA and complete other important financial aid paperwork. The student and one parent will each need their own FSA ID. Be sure to keep track of the username and password you create. You’ll use your FSA ID for years to come, so be sure to use a personal email account when creating your FSA ID. You may not always have access to your school issued email account in the future.
- Gather your tax information. The 2018-2019 FAFSA will request 2016 tax information. Take the time now to locate 2016 income and tax information for both the student and parent(s). The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available for students and parents to transfer tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. However, it will still be important to have your tax documents with you when you complete the FAFSA.
- Think about where you’re headed. You’ll have the opportunity to send your FAFSA to up to 10 schools you’re considering attending. Keep in mind you can log back into your FAFSA to add and remove schools if your plans change. Check out OKcollegestart.org to learn more about schools that would be a good fit for you and your goals.
- Ask questions. If you have special circumstances that you believe impact your ability to complete the FAFSA, ask for guidance now! Ask us by clicking on “Email Us Your FAFSA Question!” on the right side of this page. You can also contact your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college to discuss your situation.
Completing the FAFSA is an important step toward funding your education after high school. Be sure to complete the application as soon as possible after Oct. 1!
If you’re completing a FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year, there are some new requirements you should be aware of. One of them is the new FAFSA release date. This form now becomes available on October 1 annually, rather than January 1. This allows you to fill out the FAFSA earlier and possibly learn your financial aid eligibility a little earlier, too.
Another change to the FAFSA allows students and families to complete this form using tax information that should already be completed, eliminating the need to update your tax information on your application once your taxes have been filed. Since the latest FAFSA, released on October 1, requires you to use your 2015 tax information, you can pull out your 2015 return and complete your application at FAFSA.gov now! The sooner you apply, the better!
If you’re unsure when to complete the FAFSA or the correct tax information to be used, check out the chart below. Good luck!
Any student that needs money for college expenses in 2017-18 should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) now! The FAFSA underwent a lot of changes this year, including moving the application start date from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1. Since the FAFSA is available now, students should submit the form as soon as possible to maximize opportunities for financial aid for college. Get ahead of the game and set a reminder to submit the FAFSA Oct. 1 of next year, too!
Many types of financial aid are awarded on a first come-first served basis. This includes various types of federal aid as well as some aid through the state of Oklahoma. For example, this year, the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG), does not have a deadline for FAFSA completion. Instead, students are told it’s important to apply early. Typically, OTAG receives more eligible applications than can be awarded with available funds and how early a student applies can be the deciding factor in whether that student is offered an OTAG award.
The FAFSA is THE application for federal grants, college work-study and many student loan programs including:
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
Work Study Program:
Federal Student Loans:
Direct Subsidized Loan
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Direct PLUS Loan
Federal Perkins Loan
So submit the FAFSA now. You may qualify for money for college!
So you’ve completed, signed and submitted the FAFSA, now what? It’s time to follow up!
Keep an eye on your email for something called a Student Aid Report (SAR) as well as information from the schools to which you chose to send your FAFSA results.
Your SAR will provide you with some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid. When you receive your SAR carefully review it and make sure your information is listed correctly. If you find a mistake, you will need to correct and resubmit your FAFSA.
Some schools may ask for more information, so be sure to provide any additional documentation they may require. Follow up with the school’s financial aid office if you have questions.
Now that you’ve gathered materials and created an FSA ID , it’s time to complete and submit the FAFSA at FAFSA.gov.
Applying online is fast, simple and best of all… it’s safe. The online form allows you to rapidly transfer previously filed tax information and has many “helps and hints” along to way to answer any questions that may come to mind. And, you may choose to send your FAFSA results to up to 10 schools that interest you.
Be sure to enter your information exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. When finished, you will sign with your FSA ID. Don’t forget to hit “Submit” when you’ve completed the form!