FAFSA Tips So That You Can Get The Most Financial Help For College

Do you know what FAFSA is? If you are in college or about to enter college, I hope you do! FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form that is filled out by college students or those who are about to enter college to see if they qualify for any…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 1, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Do you know what FAFSA is? If you are in college or about to enter college, I hope you do!Do you know what FAFSA is? If you are in college or about to enter college, I hope you do!

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form that is filled out by college students or those who are about to enter college to see if they qualify for any financial aid.

After you fill out a FAFSA form and if you qualify for student financial aid, you may be rewarded with a Pell Grant, a Stafford Loan, a Federal Perkins Loan, or a work-study program.

These different “awards” can allow a college student to go to college more affordably, by being given a grant or a low-interest student loan.

Related:

Now, you’re probably wondering what you can do so that you can get the most out of FAFSA so that you can go to college as affordably as you can.

From researching online as well as having to fill out FAFSA on my own in years past, I learned a lot about FAFSA tips and mistakes that soon-to-be and current college students often make.

 

Below are the FAFSA tips you need to know:

  • To fill out your FAFSA, you should go to Fafsa.ed.gov to fill out your FAFSA.
  • Many make the mistake of not filing their FAFSA at all. You don’t automatically receive FAFSA awards, so you NEED to fill out this form in order to qualify for anything. Plus, you need to fill it out every single year as well. It’s not a one and done type of form. Please, remember to do this each year- even if that means making a note on your phone calendar for the next several years so that you don’t forget.
  • Many don’t file their FAFSA on time. Yes, there is a deadline. You should make note of the deadline and try to submit your FAFSA way before the deadline.
  • Students are able to file a 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016. This is a recent change, but even though you have more time, it doesn’t mean that you should put it off. Please still file your FAFSA as soon as possible! This is because some financial aid is given on a first-come first served basis.
  • You don’t have to apply for admission to a school before you list it on your FAFSA. So, this means that you can fill out your FAFSA now and decide on a specific college or university later.
  • Collect the documents that you need to fill out your FAFSA form. To fill out your FAFSA, you will need your social security number, federal income tax returns, W2s, and asset information.
  • Don’t make errors on FAFSA forms. Make sure everything is correct on your FAFSA form. Double, triple, or even quadruple check your name, address, social security number, tax information, and more. Errors can lead to delays in receiving financial aid!
  • Make sure you contact your financial aid office at the college or university to see if there are any other forms you should fill out with your FAFSA.

There are also many other mistakes that students make. The following is sponsored by College Ave Student Loans. Check out the post 10 Common FAFSA Errors to Avoid for more information. Another great article on that site that I recommend is File the FAFSA to Get More Money in College.

If you are new to my blog, I am all about finding ways to make and save more money. Here are some of my favorite sites and products that may help you out:

  • Start a blog. Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I earn over $70,000 a month online through my blog and you can read more about this in my monthly online income reports. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $2.95 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
  • Sign up for a website like Ebates where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free $10 gift card bonus to Macys, Walmart, Target, or Kohls!
  • Answer surveys. Survey companies I recommend include Survey JunkieSwagbucksAmerican Consumer Opinion, Pinecone Research, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • Save money on food. I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month (the first two weeks are free too) and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well!
  • I highly recommend Credible for student loan refinancing. You can lower the interest rate on your student loans significantly by using Credible which may help you shave thousands off your student loan bill over time.
  • Cut your TV bill. Cut your cable, satellite, etc. Even go as far to go without Netflix or Hulu as well. Buy a digital antenna (this is the one we have) and enjoy free TV for life.
  • Try InboxDollars. InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free just for signing up!
  • Find a part-time job. There are many part-time jobs that you may be able to find. You can find a job on sites such as Snagajob, Craigslist (yes, I’ve found a legitimate job through there before), Monster, and so on.
  • Lower your cell phone bill. Instead of paying the $150 or more that you spend on your cell phone bill, there are companies out there like Republic Wireless that offer cell phone service starting at $10. YES, I SAID $10! If you use my Republic Wireless affiliate link, you can change your life and start saving thousands of dollars a year on your cell phone service. I created a full review on Republic Wireless as well if you are interested in hearing more. I’ve been using them for over a year and they are great.

Do you have student loans? What do you wish you knew before you took on college costs? What other FAFSA tips do you have to share?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I side hustled for two years after graduating from engineering..as a tutor and a model to pay off my debt. It worked but it sucked too. I wish I knew that interest rates are higher than normal bank rates when you have to pay back your loans. And I wish they would disclose all of this information up front before you get the loan and estimate how long it would take to pay back if you choose to say borrow 30K. If I knew how long it would take to pay back plus how much interest it would cost me, I would have been more diligent with my money!

  2. Urghh This subject is like Voldemort, it should never me named!! I just started working and I need to apply for next semester’s FAFSA and I’m in complete horror! I receive full financial aid but now that I started working I don’t know how my award is going to change.. Hoping for the best though! Nice post as always!

  3. Good FAFSA tips here! Parents and students need to be aware that the new FAFSA filing date begins on Oct 1, 2016 to receive aid for the 2017-2018 school year.

  4. Karlene

    Hello Michelle,
    Great article. I like that you reminded filers of the FAFSA about possible errors and the need to:
    Make sure everything is correct on your FAFSA form. Double, triple, or even quadruple check your name, address, social security number, tax information, and more.

    Before I saw your email for this article I had read somewhere else about FAFSA opening up for filing on Oct. 1, 2016, and I considered writing an article. You are fast. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I do, I think I will reference your story because it has some good information.

  5. These tips about FAFSA are so important for students to know, thanks for putting this together!