Your first step to apply for financial aid is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The key word here is FREE. It can be intimidating at first glance, but if you go in prepared to research and spend a little time, you will realize how easy it can be. Don’t ever pay anyone to complete the FAFSA for you.
The process has gotten simpler over the past couple of years, because you can now retrieve you and your spouse’s and/or parent’s income information directly from the IRS. In other words, you don’t have to struggle anymore trying to find your adjusted gross income, taxes paid, and income earned from work, etc. Now you can retrieve all this information with just the click of a mouse. Not only does this streamline the process of the application, it also cuts down on human error.
For the FAFSA, you’ll need to determine your dependency status. Why? Because it determines whose information you must put on the FAFSA. If you are considered a dependent student, you will need your information and your parents’ or guardian’s information on the FAFSA. “Oh,” you say, “I have a job and my own apartment, and I pay my own bills.” This alone does not make you an independent student for financial aid eligibility. If you are classified as a dependent student, you must report both you and your parents’ or guardian’s information.
If you are classified as an independent student, you will only report your information (and your spouse’s information if you are married).
When to Apply?
You can complete the FAFSA as early as January 1st for the upcoming award year. For example, if you are planning to attend college in 2014, you can complete the 2014/2015 FAFSA as early as January 1, 2014. You will be required to use your 2013 income tax information for the 2014/2015 FAFSA. It can get a little confusing because most colleges and universities have their own deadline for awarding certain funding, so check with your school. Because we are a continuously enrolling college, Center for Advanced Legal Studies does not have a deadline. You just complete the appropriate FAFSA prior to enrolling.
Where to Apply?
You can complete your FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.
Haven’t decided where to go to school yet? No problem, you can list several options you are considering, and each school will receive a copy of your FAFSA. You can always add another institution if needed. (If you wish to add Center for Advanced Legal Studies to you list of college options, our school code is 026047.)
Bottom line, do your research and apply as early as you can. The 2013/2014 FAFSA is available now and the 2014/2015 FAFSA will be available on January 1, 2014.