How to File a FAFSA Application and Get the Most Money

by Contributor

The FAFSA application is one of the most important documents you can ever fill out for going to college. It is almost as important as the application to get into the college to begin with. FAFSA student loans are the safest loans to get with clear cut rules and the grants provided by the government are worth a lot.

Get a paper copy of the FAFSA application from your school counselor. If you do a paper version skip to step 6. If you don't want to do a paper version then don't worry, you can apply for financial aid online. Go to step 2.

Access the FAFSA homepage through the FAFSA official site. It is a government website.

Under step 2, click Fill Out Your FAFSA.

Choose the years for which you want to apply for student financial aid.

The next screen will prompt you to create an account. Follow the directions.

With your account created, you now begin to fill out your FAFSA. Follow the rules closely. The online process will lead you step by step. If you are using a paper version for the FAFSA application a counselor can help you with the process.

Filling out the FAFSA application can seem pretty straight forward, but there are some important steps you should take to ensure you get the MOST out of your filing experience.

Save all money under the parents' names, not under the student's. Any money saved under the student's name should be transferred.

Encourage your parents to attend college at the same time if they have been thinking of furthering their education. Or, if you have a brother/sister a year younger than you, wait that extra year to attend. The more people a family has in college, the more FAFSA student financial aid you will be eligible to receive.

Spend down your assets. If you need a new car or computer (or any other school necessities) get those BEFORE you file for FAFSA student loans and grants.

Never withdraw money from a retirement fund to pay for schooling. In fact, forbid your parents from doing it. This money will count against your student loan and grant eligibility if it is withdrawn.

Get a 529 college savings plan. This should be done long before you are thinking of filing. A 529 saving plan owned by parents has little impact on financial aid, but one owned by grandparents has no impact.

If possible, list yourself as an independent student. This will help you get even more FAFSA student financial aid. Consult resources below to find out if you qualify.

View how much the government expects to give you in student loans and grants when you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Review the report your college provides about the student loans and scholarships they will provide. This should arrive shortly after your SAR.

Talk to the financial aid office of your school if you think you need more. Many will be willing to work in a little extra money if possible. Be polite and kind, but firm in the fact that you need more money. Don't be greedy though, or they may refuse you all together.

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