Category Archives: Students and Parents

FAFSA Homelessness Status

Are there any special instructions for homeless students who are filling out the FAFSA?

While completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may be asked three different questions about homelessness.

At any time on or after July 1 [in the year prior to the academic year covered by this FAFSA], did an official* determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

*This determination can be given by:

  • A high school or school district homeless liaison,
  • A director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or
  • A director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program.

As always, you should contact the financial aid office at your school(s) of interest if you need help answering any of these questions. If you answer yes to any one of the ‘homelessness’ questions, you’ll be considered an independent student and will not be required to provide your parents’ income and tax information on your FAFSA. Later on, though, you may be asked by a financial aid administrator to provide a copy of the homeless youth determination. If you did not receive a determination provided by one of the officials listed above, you’ll be considered a dependent student on the FAFSA, but you may ask a financial aid administrator to consider making their own determination. The administrator will probably ask you for additional documentation before reaching a decision.

A student is considered unaccompanied if he or she is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. A student is considered homeless if he or she lacks fixed, regular, and adequate housing. This includes students who are living in shelters, motels, cars, or parks, or who are temporarily living with other people because they have nowhere else to go. Students are also considered homeless if they are fleeing an abusive parent who would otherwise provide the student with financial support and a place to live.

Which street address should a homeless student provide on their FAFSA? According to the U.S. Department of Education, “You must provide a mailing address where you can reliably receive mail. Your mailing address can be the address of a relative or friend who has given you permission to use it, or it can be your college’s address. If you want to use your college’s address, you must contact the school for permission and instructions to ensure that your mail reaches you.” Don’t forget to update your FAFSA later when you find more permanent housing.

For more information and a list of additional resources for homeless students, read Questions and Answers: Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth from StudentAid.gov.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Reporting financial information on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be challenging. However, it’s an easier task with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The IRS DRT allows students and parents to transfer their tax information from the IRS directly into their FAFSA form. The tool is available on FAFSA.gov and became available on the myStudentAid mobile app on Oct. 1, when the 2019-2020 FAFSA became available.

To access the IRS DRT, parents and students will need to set up a FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). The FSA ID allows applicants to sign their FAFSA electronically, as well as access the DRT. While completing the financial information on the FAFSA, students and parents will be given the option to link to the IRS DRT. After entering their FSA ID, applicants will be taken to IRS.gov. On this website, applicants will enter some demographic data and then select the type of tax return they filed in 2017. It’s important to enter information exactly as it was shown on the original tax document. The system will then locate the applicants’ data and transfer it directly into the FAFSA. The transferred information will not be visible, but applicants will see that their income figures have indeed, been transferred. Using the IRS DRT will save time during FAFSA completion and also save time for the financial aid professionals at your college. Be sure to look for the “Link to IRS Data Retrieval Tool” button when completing your FAFSA to make this process much easier.

For more information about the FAFSA, please visit StartWithFAFSA.org.

FAFSA Resources

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be stressful, especially for students who are already weighing the options of various universities or technology centers, applying for scholarships and studying for the ACT or SAT—all while still trying to be regular high school students! That’s why the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) offers various resources to help families understand and navigate through the FAFSA.

StartWithFAFSA.org offers a number of articles and links to help you as you complete your FAFSA application. Check out these great posts and resources:

FAFSA Now Available

On Oct. 1 (today) the 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, becomes available for students to complete in order to receive financial assistance for college. In order to receive most types of federal and state aid, students must submit a FAFSA annually. To make sure you apply for all the financial aid that’s available to you, complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.

This year students can access the FAFSA by visiting FAFSA.gov or by using the myStudentAid mobile app. Prior to completing the application, set up your FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) and gather personal documents and financial information. Students and parents will each need to create an FSA ID in order to electronically sign the FAFSA. It’s best to create your FSA ID now before starting your FAFSA, if possible. Go to fsaid.ed.gov to create your FSA ID and utilize our FSA ID worksheet to help you keep up with your login information for the FAFSA.

It’s best to gather all the materials you’ll need before you start the FAFSA, such as your Social Security card, driver’s license and important financial information. Parents and students will need their tax return and other income information from tax year 2017 to accurately report their data. By taking the time to create your FSA ID and to gather your important documents before you start the application, you’ll be ready to successfully complete the 2019-2020 FAFSA when you start the application.

For additional information, please visit StartWithFAFSA.org.

FAFSA on the Go

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has started making improvements to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), creating a more mobile and user friendly application process. They have already begun implementing some of the new mobile friendly features, which were released on July 22. This updated application has a redesigned look, better display on phones, laptops and tablets and has an easy to follow question flow. They have also replaced the “Help and Hints” feature with new “tool tips” to help guide you through the various steps of the application.

A beta version of the mobile app will be released later this summer, with the complete version of the app slated to launch on October 1. This will allow you to access your myStudentAid account through a mobile app, rather than through your internet browser. The myStudentAid mobile app will let you complete the FAFSA, make student loan payments and accomplish other financial aid tasks, like tracking your loan spending, all from the palm of your hand. Below is an example of what you can expect to see when you login to the mobile app.

fafsa mobile app screenshots

FAFSA Resources

StartWithFAFSA.org is dedicated to informing you about all things FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). With this mission in mind, we have developed numerous resources to help you navigate the FAFSA process. On our Resources page, we provide links to local and national websites to help you learn about and complete the FAFSA. You can also find a list of publications, tools and videos that highlight specific areas of interest.

If you’re looking for a quick overview of FAFSA completion, check out our YouTube page and learn about The FAFSA in Five (also in Spanish). This short video will give you the highlights of FAFSA completion in five easy steps. Not a video person? You can also learn how to Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps through our online brochure.

To learn essential details about the FAFSA, look over the FAFSA Facts and FAFSA Parent flyers. Both of these resources offer guidance and aim to answer common questions and concerns that students and parents have about the application.

Before you start the application, you’ll need to create your FSA ID, which will be used as your electronic signature for the FAFSA. The FSA ID Worksheet (also available in Spanish) will guide you and your parent through the FSA ID creation process. You will also need to make sure you use the correct version of the FAFSA. To learn which year’s application you need to complete, review our FAFSA Completion Chart and match-up your information.

By completing the FAFSA, you are applying for federal and some state financial aid. You can continue looking for financial aid in the form of scholarships by visiting UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook to find more scholarships and FAFSA info!

Grants, Work-Study and Student Loans

As you begin exploring different forms of financial aid, three terms will stand out: grants, work-study and student loans. These are the three primary forms of aid that the federal government distributes through the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’re applying to receive these various types of financial aid for school.

Grants and scholarships, which are given to eligible students to help them pay higher education expenses, are the best form of aid you can receive, as they typically don’t need to be repaid. The Pell Grant is the most notable federal grant; it’s awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need. Students can receive up to $6,095 from the Pell Grant for the 2018-19 school year. The OTAG is awarded to eligible Oklahoma residents enrolled in schools within the state and the FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) is awarded to students with exceptional financial need. Some grants do have obligations attached to them, such as the TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant. This grant is designed to assist students who plan to teach and meet certain requirements for the grant. Not all campuses participate in this program, so students will need to check with their campus about available types of financial aid offered.

Work-Study is the form of federal aid that allows undergraduates to work part-time jobs on or off campus to earn money for school expenses. This program is administered by the school, and like grants, is based on your financial need.

The third type of aid is a federal direct student loan. A student loan is a form of aid the federal government provides to help students bridge the gap between family savings, scholarships and grants, and work study and remaining college costs. Unlike most grants or work-study, this money must be paid back with interest. While federal student loans need to be repaid, the interest accrued is often lower than it would be with a private lender, and federal student loans have more flexible repayment options than private or alternative loans.

The Direct Subsidized Loan program will lend students up to $5,500 annually depending on grade level, financial need and dependency status. The interest rate for subsidized loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 is set at 5.05 percent, and the government will pay your interest costs while you’re attending school at least half time. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduates (5.05 percent interest rate) and graduate students (6.60 percent interest rate). The government does not pay interest costs during school for unsubsidized loan borrowers, but students may make interest payments while in school to save money. If there is still a balance remaining after using all other available forms of aid, parents of dependent undergraduate students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. PLUS loan applicants must meet credit requirements, and the interest rate is currently set at 7.60 percent.

If you must accept a student loan to help pay for college, focus on federal loan options, and limit your borrowing to the amount you truly need to pay school expenses. For more information about paying for college, check out UCanGo2.org/pay.

Summer Checklist for Seniors

Transitioning from your junior year to your senior year of high school can be an exciting time. This is the year you’ll be rounding out your high school career and gearing up for the next phase of your life. Although it can be difficult to stay focused in all the excitement of senior year, it’s important that you stay on track and get fully prepared for college.

UCanGo2.org provides seniors, and all other high school students, with a comprehensive by-year checklist to ensure you’re ready for college. This checklist offers information to help you make the most of your final year of high school, outlines the college application and admission process and explains how to apply for federal and state financial aid and scholarships.

By following this checklist, you’ll be well-equipped to succeed in your pursuit of higher education. As Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

http://www.ucango2.org/publications/student/Senior_Checklist.pdf

Don’t Miss the Oklahoma’s Promise Deadline!

Students in 8th, 9th or 10th grade: Don’t miss this very important deadline!

If you’re interested in applying for the Oklahoma’s Promise (OKP) scholarship, don’t wait until it’s time to submit your FAFSA! The deadline for submitting your OKP application this year is July 2, 2018.*

To enroll in the Oklahoma’s Promise program, you must be:

  • An Oklahoma resident
  • Enrolled in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade in an Oklahoma high school (homeschool students must be age 13, 14 or 15); and
  • A student whose parents earn $55,000 or less per year.

Special income provisions may apply to:

  • Children adopted from certain court-ordered custody and children in the custody of court-appointed legal guardians
  • Families receiving Social Security disability and death benefits.

To apply now or to learn more about the program, visit okpromise.org.

*Note: Any 2017-2018 application not submitted by the application deadline of July 2, 2018 will be removed from the system. Students who will be in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade in 2018-2019 will have to start a new application when it is available. High school sophomores who have not submitted their applications by July 2, 2018 will not be eligible for the program.

New FSA ID Worksheet

Hey students! If you, and your parent, plan to electronically sign the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’ll be required to obtain an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). This ID is essentially a username and password that is used for a variety of purposes in the financial aid world such as:

  • Making online corrections to the FAFSA
  • Viewing or printing a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • Electronically signing a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  • Completing entrance and exit loan counseling requirements
  • Reviewing a history of federal student aid received

The set up process for the FSA ID requires applicants to answer a variety of questions. That’s why our new FSA ID Worksheet –
(FSA ID Worksheet in Spanish) will be a helpful tool in this undertaking. Write down the answers to your questions here and save this form in a safe place! Then if you’ve forgotten your username or password, or possibly an answer to one of your challenge questions, you’ll have the information readily available on your FSA ID Worksheet. The FSA ID Worksheet also comes in Spanish.

Check out the Resources tab here at StartWithFAFSA.org to locate and print a copy of the FSA ID Worksheet. You’ll also find it on UCanGo2.org in the Publications section. To set up your FSA ID, visit https://fsaid.ed.gov

FSA ID Worksheet Image