Education

FAFSA First: The Key for Anyone Seeking College Financial Aid

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Filling out that all-important FAFSA form can mean the difference between getting the money you need for college and not. The FAFSA -- Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- is the first step to determining eligibility for financial aid. Students may also be required to complete a FAFSA as part of a scholarship application, and students applying for Veteran Benefits are encouraged to complete the FAFSA, because there are veteran benefits that do not cover fees or living expenses.

The task has been simplified over the years, and now, thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever, according to McHenry County College Director of Financial Aid Leana Davis.

“It can be very overwhelming, especially when it’s your first time completing the form, but they have streamlined it quite a bit,” Davis said. “If you have all your documentation collected, it only takes about 20 or 30 minutes to complete.”

The FAFSA now has a data retrieval tool that allows you to import your tax information if you’ve filed with the Internal Revenue Service. “It takes you to the IRS website and you can pull your tax information right into the FAFSA form,” Davis said. Students (or parents) now file the FAFSA using their taxes from two years prior.

It’s also important to note that many scholarships and loans are not income-dependent. Those who think they won’t get any financial assistance should still fill out the form, Davis said, adding that FAFSA data can also determine your eligibility for work-study.

“Our office is really a great resource for the college and the community,” Davis said. “Even though students may not be attending MCC, although we would love to have them, we’ll answer any questions they may have when they’re completing their FAFSA.”

And timing is important. Future students who will attend school in 2018-2019 can complete their FAFSA beginning October 1st 2017.

To get the form visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.

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