FAFSA Filing Season Starts: What You Need to Know

January 2, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

It’s time for high school students to once again fill out their FAFSA forms if they plan on attending college in the fall of 2015. Here’s a calculator, the pin website, and contact info. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is available online here starting Jan. 1. The form allows students to get financial aid, and it is used by most states and colleges as part of the aid process for students.

It will ask for financial, personal, and work history for students and parents.

Filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible increases a student’s chance of getting the best financial aid if they’re eligible for it, as some packages are served on a first come, first served basis. The official deadline to fill it out is June 30, 2015, if you plan on attending school that fall.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Tax records
– Identification (SSN, address, phone number, etc.)
– Income records
– Debt records
– Expense records

Per BestColleges.com, “The federal government wants to know about your finances the year before enrolling in school, so if you are applying for the 2014 school year, you need to have documents from 2013 on hand. This preparation process can go a lot faster if your family members can help you locate the necessary documents.”

If you don’t have your 2014 tax information at the start of the year, you can estimate it, as Forbes.com notes.

The article also says that it’s problematic “if you don’t name state schools first in the list of schools you’d like to receive your financial information. Whether the order makes a difference in your state varies, but it’s better to err on the side of caution and list state schools you’re considering first. This doesn’t mean private schools on your list will review your numbers any differently. The order won’t matter to the individual schools you picked at all.”

Also, if you change your mind about the schools you want to attend, you can log back into the FAFSA site and change the school information. Not doing this might impact grants or scholarships you could be eligible for.