February is one short month jam-packed with tons of important events! And with today being Groundhog Day, unfortunately the groundhog has seen his shadow and we are stuck with 6 more weeks of this wintery weather. Darn! Stay warm, everyone!
February also claims Black History Month, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day. While you probably thought that was enough to fill such a short month, there’s one very important celebration that takes place all month long that you likely overlooked. (Attention college students, we’re looking at you!)
February is also Financial Aid Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to celebrate by completing your FAFSA form, learn some more about financial aid and how to score more of it in the meantime. Speaking of FAFSA, our priority aid filing deadline is March 1st so log onto fafsa.ed.gov and complete your FAFSA today! Even if you didn’t qualify for financial aid last year, it’s still vital that you complete this form this year.
For those of you who did not complete the form last year, it’s important to keep in mind that this year’s application will be slightly different. Knowing ahead of time the changes to the application will enable you to be better prepared and less overwhelmed.
One of the new upcoming changes will be regarding the FAFSA pin. There is a new login process for all applicants. They will no longer need to submit personal information like social security number, name and date of birth to login to the various Federal Student Aid systems. Rather, all applicants will be assigned an FSA ID, which will function more like a username and password. This will better protect all applicants and their information.
There are also updated definitions for parent and separated parents. A parent is a person that the state has determined to be a legal parent. Widowed stepparents are not considered legal parents on the FAFSA unless they have legally adopted the student. Spouses legally separated by the state or spouses that are married but living in separate households are classified as “Divorced or Separated” on the FAFSA.
When starting to fill out the FAFSA, it’s also a good idea to take advantage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This new tool can be used to copy the answers to some FAFSA questions directly from your federal income tax return. If you do not modify those answers, those questions will not be subject to verification. This will reduce the likelihood that your FAFSA will be selected for verification, saving you time and hassle.
Now that you are up to date on a few of the changes for this year’s FAFSA, get ready to file by preparing and following this FAFSA checklist:
If you are still feeling lost and need help filing your FAFSA, Iowa State University is hosting an Iowa College Goal Sunday event on February 21st. The event is located in Ames at the DMACC Hunziker Center, 1420 S Bell Avenue. It starts at 9 AM and goes until noon. Financial Aid professionals from ISU will be in attendance to help guide you along the process and answer your FAFSA questions. No appointments necessary!
One last thing: Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! at http://financialaid.iastate.edu/scholarships/. The Office of Student Financial Aid scholarship deadline is March 1st and other scholarship deadlines are approaching fast.