Another great guest blog post from our friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting!
Think about how stressful it can be to learn about the college admissions and recruiting processes. Put that same learning curve, the same nerve to figure out a complex project with a definite due date, into a much smaller window and you get the FAFSA!
Did you know that for students who attend school for four years, the average incurred cost of loans is approximately $147,000? Further, know that the window to complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on January 1st. You can submit your FAFSA at any time (between January 1st, 2016 and June 30th, 2017), but some families feel time crunch because depending on your school, state, and type of aid, awards go out on a first come, first served basis.
Don’t stress out. Seriously. This FAFSA paperwork isn’t going to hurt you. Just be sure that you don’t make errors when filling out your FAFSA – check out this post to avoid the most common mistakes!
Here are the top ways to fill out the FAFSA without stressing out about it:
KNOW IN ADVANCE WHICH INFORMATION YOU’RE GOING TO PROVIDE ON THE FAFSA
The FAFSA will ask your family to provide information in five categories. Specifically, you will be asked about:
- The student-athlete.
- The student-athlete’s dependency on his/her parents (this is a legal question – does a parent or guardian list the student-athlete as a dependent on their tax returns?).
- The student-athlete’s parents or guardians.
- The student-athlete’s financial background.
- The schools that you want the FAFSA to send information to directly.
There are also a bunch of advanced tips (from Chegg) about the FAFSA that can help you to understand some of the more complicated arrangements some families might pursue to maximize their student aid.
KNOW WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO HAVE ON-HAND TO FILL OUT THE FAFSA
In addition to the general bucket categories we listed above, you’re going to need to have a couple of things on-hand that you probably don’t have memorized. Take some time to gather this information together so you don’t feel like you’re searching through your lock box and paperwork and losing your place in the FAFSA. You’ll need:
- Social security numbers for the student-athlete and parents (if the student-athlete is filing as a dependent).
- Driver’s license numbers.
- W2′s from the current and previous year.
- Tax returns from the previous year (since you probably haven’t done your 2015 taxes yet, the FAFSA lets you use the most recent one you have).
- Information about any additional benefits you might have: welfare, veteran’s, social security, investments, etc.
- Information about any additional financial figures that you might need to report: businesses, mortgages, etc.
Did you know that missing out on important financial aid information can mean paying as much as $90,000 extra?
All of the above will help the FAFSA to compute your Expected Family Contribution. Also, please remember that no matter your family’s income, it behooves you to complete a FAFSA.
KNOW THAT COMPLETING YOUR FAFSA IS AN UNAVOIDABLE STEP IN THE RECRUITING PROCESS – AND MAKE IT FUN!
This might come from years of trumpeting that my sport was other sports’ punishment, but I am a firm believer that there’s a silver lining in everything. Hill repeats? There’s going to be a downhill soon enough. Circuit workout? Get an awesome song playing and it’ll make the time fly by.
Do the same when you fill out the FAFSA. Put on some music that everyone enjoys. (I know, I have a dad, too — that might be easier said than done.) Give yourself a reward when you’ve finished it – maybe the family can go out for pizza or an ice cream.
The FAFSA may seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, it’s time that your family gets to spend together!
We have an incredible resource library of tips, how-tos and strategies for every part of your recruiting process. Want access? Get started with a recruiting profile!