It’s official: the financial aid season is now open! If you’re college-bound within next year, now’s the time to fill out the FAFSA 2019 (Free Application for Federal Financial Aid). The application became available on October 1, 2018, and it will remain open until June 30, 2019. Just because you have time, though, doesn’t mean you should wait. In fact, you want to finish your FAFSA done as early as possible.

Many states, colleges, and other organizations distribute financial aid on a first come, first serve basis. So, the sooner you complete and submit your FAFSA, the more likely you will be to land additional scholarships, grants, and other financial assistance.

FAFSA: The Starting Point

The FAFSA is a free application that is open to US citizens, as well as certain “eligible noncitizens,” including:

  • US permanent residents, with a Permanent Resident Card.
  • Conditional permanent residents (I-551C designated).
  • Those with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94), officially designated as “Refugee,” “Asylum Granted,” “Indefinite Parole,” “Humanitarian Parole,” or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant.”
  • Official citizens of Palau, The Marshall Islands, or Micronesia.

If you’re eligible…congratulations! Now, you’ll need to make sure you have an FSA ID (Federal Financial Aid Identification). You and any parent or guardian included in your FAFSA will need to have a separate ID.

You’ll be prompted to apply for your FSA ID at the beginning of the application process. Once you’ve got your FSA ID, you must also pull together the following information. This will all be needed during the application process, so keep it handy:

  • Personal Information: You need the Social Security number, as well as a driver’s license or other state ID, for yourself and your parent or guardian.
  • Tax Information: You need your parent’s most recent tax return and W-2 (or your own, if you’re an independent adult for tax purposes).
  • Account Statements: You’ll need statements if your parents hold any investment assets like stocks, bonds, etc. This includes business assets, too.
  • Untaxed Income Records: If your guardian receives any untaxed income like child support or interest from investments, you’ll need these records as well.
  • List of Colleges: Include all the colleges you’re thinking about attending. This will let them know where to send your FAFSA for processing.

Have all this information handy? Then you’re ready to get started! Check our previous blog post, taking you on a step-by-step guide to the FAFSA process. Good luck!