Financial Aid Deep Dive: FAFSA
The FAFSA opens on October 1st. Confused about what that means? Deepen your financial aid understanding with CollegeAdvisor.com. Former Admissions Officer Ashly Cargle-Thompson will share her insider knowledge on how to apply for financial aid using the FAFSA, during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session. In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including: – What is the FAFSA? – What is the difference between the FAFSA and CSS Profile? – What type of questions will the FAFSA ask? – What information and materials do I need ready when working through the FAFSA application? Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-10-05 – Financial Aid Deep Dive: FAFSA
Hi everyone. Welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a Senior Advisor at CollegeAdvisor and I will be your moderator this evening. Today’s webinar is Financial Aid Deep Dive, focusing on the FAFSA. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, our presenter will present her perspective and advice on completing the FAFSA, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar, you can download our slides under the handouts and you can start so many questions in the Q&A.
We’ll just make an ask that you try to keep your questions general, um, and broadly applied and not ask too many specific or personal questions as we’d like to be able to address as many as possible. Um, now let’s move forward and meet our presenter, Ashly Cargle-Thompson. Ashly, can you take a few minutes to introduce yourself?
Hi everyone. Uh, my name’s Ashly Cargle-Thompson. I’m a former admissions officer here at CollegeAdvisor and also the team lead for the financial aid, um, specialist team. Um, I have a background in higher ed. Uh, the last eight years of, um, my career have been at Emory University working in financial aid. Um, and so I’m really passionate about this.
My big goal is always to just demystify why you have to do what you’re doing, because I think that takes some of the stress out of it. Um, just some housekeeping, actually, I’ll go back. Just some housekeeping about what this is going to look like. The biggest question I get asked, even when I describe the FAFSA in great detail is like, Yeah, but what does it look like?
So today’s session is going to be going through the FAFSA with you via screen cap. Um, obviously I’ve abbreviated portions of it and it’s more of a case study where we’ve made some decisions about what this student’s kind of profile looks like, so that dictates what questions we’re gonna answer. Um, so let’s get into it.
First, I just wanna make sure we have a good overview of what the FAFSA is and how it contributes to your financial aid package. Basically, the FAFSA is an application that you’re going to fill out that contains your financial information and will determine your eligibility for federal aid, and it’ll determine your family’s ability, how much your family.
Should be able to pay based on those finances. The term that we use to for that, uh, number is your estimated family contribution or your EFC. So if you hear me use that term, what I’m talking about is how much the FAFSA has calculated that your family should be able to pay. One of the big shocks that people get once they’ve completed the FAFSA and get their EFC is that it is way higher than what they can actually pay.
Um, and so there will be other financial aid webinars that talk about the appeal process, but for now, that’s what the EFC does. Um, it will also help determine eligibility for federal grants and loans, and institutions will also use your EFC to determine need. Um, if they have need based funds themselves.
Everyone is not eligible to complete the FAFSA, meaning that everyone is not eligible to receive federal. Student aid, um, only US citizens or eligible non-citizens, so US nationals are able to complete the facet. This time, DACA, undocumented and international students are not currently eligible, but a lot of universities and states do have financial aid support for students for DACA and undocumented students.
So you’re gonna need some materials to complete the FAFSA. Um, first you’re gonna need an FSA ID, which is basically a secure id. It’s an el and it will be used as you’ll see as an electronic signature. So, to complete the FSA ID or to create your FSA ID you’re going to need to create two, one for the student and one for the parent or guardian.
Um, and you’ll have to make sure that each of those FSA IDs have their own unique email address attached to it, but that will be used as your secure identifier throughout the FAFSA process. Um, also you’ll be completing and submitting your FAFSA every year that you’re in college. So it’s important to pick a password that you’ll remember and keep that information, um, in your document so that you can refer back to it.
Um, Once you have that done, you can start the FAFSA and it will require some materials. Um, you’re gonna need your social security number or registration number. If you’re a US national, um, you’ll need your 2020 tax returns for the FAFSA. So yes, it’s based on taxes from two years ago. Uh, you’ll want W2’s bank statements and investment records and records of untaxed income.
So basically any sort of, um, official documentation of your assets from 2020. It’s important to have those handy, um, because you will have to answer some questions based on those actual forms. So make sure you have those. Um, and obviously you’ll need your FSA ID. Um, you’ll also need all these things for, again, both the parent and the student.
Even if the student doesn’t really have a financial profile, they’re going to have to answer some questions. So let’s get into it. If to start the FAFSA that you need to go to www.studenta.gov. This is what the website is going to look at look like. You’re gonna go ahead and click log in, and once you click log in, you can click apply for aid, um, or complete the FAFSA form.
This is what the welcome page is.
So if you’re new to the FAFSA process, if you haven’t done it before, which you shouldn’t have, then you’re gonna click start here and it’ll open a screen that looks like this, where you can identify who is filling it out. Usually the parents or the students will do it together. And I recommend that because at some point, parents, you’re gonna want the student to do their FAFSA by themselves.
Um, but if you’re a parent filling out the FAFSA for a student, just make sure you understand that the phrasing is going to say you or your, and when they use the words you or your, they’re not referring to you, the parent, they’re referring to the student. Um, so in this scenario, we are going to be a student who is a dependent with parents, with both parents, um, just so that you understand what this FAFSA is going to look like.
And that’s usually the most common situation. All right, so in this case, we’re gonna say, I am a student and I wanna access the FAFSA form. You have two ways of getting in there. You can say, login to continue if you already have your FSA ID. If you don’t have an FSA ID, you can create an FSA ID or, and this is what it looks like if you already have your FSA ID or you can use personal identifiers.
Um, I don’t recommend doing it this way because you will ultimately need an FSA ID. So using personal identifiers ultimately lets you get into the application, but I don’t recommend that you start the application getting in this way. If you wanna go through it and look at it and see it for yourself, that’s fine, but at some point create an FSA ID and actually start your application using that.
All right, So this is a dependent student with parents with parental data, meaning that we’re gonna take the parents’ financial data that the parents claim the student as a dependent, okay. So the first section of the FAFSA is gonna be student demographics, and I wanna call your attention to this bar up here.
Um, it actually shows you all of the main sections of the FAFSA and as you’re completing it, it will tell you when you’re done. So right now this is saying that I’m on parent demographics, um, because of when the screen cap was taken, but you can actually see it’s highlighted here for student demographics.
So they’re gonna ask for personal information from the student, all of the usual things, social security, name, date of birth, that type of thing. They’ll ask for contact information, um, with email address, telephone number, that type of thing. I’m gonna go through some of these slides very quickly if they’re pretty self explanatory because we wanna get through them and have time for questions.
Um, You will have access to this deck. Uh, so I recommend downloading that now so that you can either go through it with me or you can keep it for yourself and look at it in more detail. You can also use this as a guide as you’re going through the facet to make sure you see kind of what is kind of track your progress.
So they’re gonna ask for the student’s permanent address, and then they’ll ask for the student’s residency and eligibility. Um, so they’re going to, based on your address, ask like, what is your, Oh dear, sorry, I’ve lost my slides. Um, they’re going to ask based on what state you’ve identified for your address, um, if you’ve been a resident there for X number of years and they wanna confirm that you are a US citizen or a US national, um, they will also ask and double check about your state of legal resident.
um, if that’s different than the state that you’re currently in. Um, and they’ll ask any sort of related data based on the, on the state that you select. They’ll also ask about your education. So, um, what sort of degree will you finish with, um, in high school? Is this gonna be your first time in college or getting a bachelor’s degree?
They’re wanting to know where you’re coming from, where you’re going, um, with your education. And then you’ll see, uh, this question about student selective service. So this is basically a bit of a dinosaur that is sort of being phased out where the Department of Education used to withhold federal funds for men who did not choose to.
Put themselves up for a potential draft that is no longer the case. You can absolutely click that you are a male, um, and not register for the selective service system and still be eligible for your aid. So I, my prediction is that the selective service question is going to go away or become very evidently optional in the next two to three years.
Um, they’ll also ask for the student’s driver’s license number if you have one. If you find these fields where you’re like, Oh, I don’t have one, what do I put? You can see there’s a little question mark over here by these fields that you can hover over and they will tell you what you need to enter in order to move on.
Or if they don’t, then you know that you can move on leaving those fields blank. Now they’re gonna ask about, uh, foster care and, uh, parent education completion. I know that it’s strange that these two things are together. They’re not fully related, but this is how they’ve done it. So they’re going to want to know if you’ve spent any time in foster care, and they’re also going to ask about the highest level of education your parents have completed.
Um, finally there is the student eligibility worksheet. And so this is just to determine whether or not you are eligible for federal aid. There are a few reasons that a student might not be eligible for federal aid. Excuse me, I have a terrier. I’m so sorry. Um, but in most cases these are just kind of blow through questions that you can get through.
The next section of the FAFSA is going to be the school selection section, and this is just going to be. Answering questions about your high school and the colleges that you want to send the FAFSA to. So you are able to manually enter your high school, or you can search for it and pick it from a list.
Uh, depending on how much information you put in there, um, it’s easier to do it from the list. They’ll also ask you about your colleges, uh, which colleges you want to add, and so you can search that too. Your college financial aid offices might also supply you with a code that you can put in, um, and you can manually enter that code.
Um, once you’ve selected all of your colleges, it’ll take you to a screen like this, uh, where you can continue to add schools. And it will also ask you once you’ve added a school, um, what your housing plan is. Do you plan to live on campus? Do you plan to live off campus? Do you plan to live at home with a parent or guardian?
So just answer those. As appropriate for the schools on your list. The next section is student dependency status. So this section is intended to identify whether or not you would be considered as the student a financial dependent, um, or if you have financial dependent. Um, so the first question they want to know is, do you yourself as the student?
Does the student have any dependent children or other dependents? For most students applying for their first bachelor’s degree, the answer is no. They don’t have dependents. They don’t dependent children or other dependents. If you say yes, then another screen will pop up and you’ll have additional questions to answer.
But remember, these slides are based on a dependent student without dependent and is gonna ask for financial information from their. . Um, there are additional questions to identify student dependency. Again, the whole point is to assure that, um, the student is not financially independent and so therefore they’re going to need to ask for the parent or guardians financial information.
If the student is deemed to be dependent or I’m sorry, an independent student, then they won’t, it’ll skip over the parent’s financial information. So if you are an independent student, if you know that you’re financially independent, as you answer this, these questions, it will automatically kind of disqualify you as a dependent and like skip over any questions that they’re asking of the parents.
Um, another question is about homelessness, because that does impact dependency status. Um, and then even if you are dependent, they will ask, you know, are you able to provide information about your parents? There’s reasons that people might not be able to, and so again, click what’s appropriate to you for you and move on.
If you’re able to provide information about your parents, it will take you to the parent demographic section, and this is going to look a lot like the student demographics except for a few things. This page right here is really helpful because it tells you whose information you need to provide based on your family situation, so you can click on any of these options and it will tell you who you need to have, fill out the fam, the parent section, or at the very least, whose financial information you need to collect in order to fill out the parental section of the FAFSA.
Once you’ve gotten past that, it’s going to ask for, um, marital status. It will ask for information, personal information for the first parent, and it will ask for personal information for the other parent. Um, the first parent would be in any situation where there’s kind of primary guardianship or anything like that, or whoever is the primary provider for the student, they would identify themselves as the first parent.
Um, it’ll ask about legal state of residents, and this is again, based on the first parent. It’ll ask about, um, other dependents that the parents have. It’ll ask about the size of your household and how many of those people are in college, and then it’ll get into the financial section. So I’ve broken this presentation up in two ways.
There’s two different ways that you can report your tax informations and your information and your financials. One is to upload it directly from the IRS website through the FAFSA application, and the other is to enter it manually. So I’m gonna show you both options. The parent financials, we’re gonna pretend that the parents were able to use the data, um, transfer from the IRS.
We’re gonna assume that the student couldn’t and had to manually enter it so that you can see what those questions are gonna look like and how that might work. Vaguely. You’ll see the parent filing status page. They’re going to ask you a few qualifying questions here, and then it will tell you in this little box here, um, whether or not it’s recommended that you use the IRS data retrieval tool, which is again uploading IRS tax information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA.
And the reason that I recommend that you have all of your documentation available to you is that on the off chance that you’re not eligible to do the data transfer, you need to have it there so that you can do it manually. Um, so they tell you you’re eligible to use this data retrieval tool. You can opt out of it if you want, or you can proceed to the irs.
Um, It will then ask you, and this is why you need your FSA ID before you get in there, is if you want this to be easy, um, it will ask you which parent are you. Um, so ideally this is gonna be parent one. You’ll fig, you’ll fill out your FAFSA ID information, press continue, and it will take you directly to the, um, IRS.
I could not screenshot that because at some point it’s not ethical to to fake it. So, um, it’ll take you to the IRS, it will ask you again, some identifying questions, um, and then it will ask you, um, if everything looks right, and then you’ll be able to, it’ll ask you if you’re ready to import everything over.
Everything should move over, and then you’ll come back to the FAFSA and things should be. Auto filled, um, with your information. Once that’s done, once you’ve done that data transfer, parent financials are taken care of, then you’re going to get to the student financial section. So it’s gonna ask a lot of the same things, actually all of the same things.
So it’s gonna ask about your filing status to determine whether or not you’re eligible. Um, for the data transfer, it’ll ask those qualifying questions, and then it’s going to start asking you all of the other things. So right out of the gates, what was your income? What was, what was your, actually, you and your spouses adjusted gross income.
It’s going to say spouses. Obviously, if you don’t have one, you would’ve already identified that you weren’t married in the dependency section. Just ignore the word spouse. Um, then it will ask about your income from work. If you are a student, a lot of students don’t really have income, or they’ve babysat or done, you know, kind of small jobs for cash, um, or have allowances, um, just press zero through all of this and it will just zero you out and it’s fine.
Um, it’ll ask about any additional, um, information from your tax returns, and they tell you what lines and schedules you need to refer to on your tax documents, um, and what to put if you have a negative number or if you, if there’s a certain answer on your tax document, um, then you’ll go through a bunch of questions for people who, for tax filers only.
Um, again, you would be able to. Zero it out, um, if nothing applies.
Finally, they’ll ask for additional financial information. So this is usually alimony, payments, child support, um, different sorts of credits you might have gotten based on unemployment. Um, so again, answer those appropriately and those will also should also be reflected in your taxes. Um, and then they’re gonna ask you about untaxed income.
Um, so again, they tell you specifically what they need and you just need to answer that appropriately based on your situation. Bill, finally ask about student assets. Um, and these questions are very specific as of today. Does the total amount of your and your spouse current acts at, uh, current. Assets exceed $2,000 or $2,200, yes or no.
So again, these are very direct questions. They’re not trying to create gotcha situations. Um, so really just read them closely if you have questions about why are you asking me this? Or what do I put, or where would I find this? All of these questions have that question mark near the field that you can hover over that will give you more context and instruction.
Um, then you’ll get to the sign and submit. You are so close to being done. Um, they’ll ask if there was, if there’s any preparer information. Um, so if you have somebody, uh, who submitted and is gonna do your FAFSA for you, which they say themselves is very rare, um, then they would complete this and identify themselves.
But for 99% of the families, it’s, the answer is still no. Then they will give you a FAFSA summary. So, and they’re very clear to say, even though you have a summary here, you’re not done yet. Um, but this is going to basically be a printout of everything that you answered. So this is a good time to stop and look through all of these questions and fields and make sure that everything is accurate.
You do have opportunities to correct one opportunity to correct errors on the FAFSA, but you don’t, Don’t set yourself up for that. Make sure that everything is accurate before you submit. So take your time on all of this and then you’ll see here where it says Sign and submit. So you’ll click continue and there are some instructions that you’ll want to read.
Before you go on, it’s gonna talk about, um, sort of timelines. Obviously, it’s gonna make sure that you’re being truthful in everything that you’re signing and you can agree to the terms, um, that they are outlining here. And then you click sign and submit FAFSA form. And this is where you actually sign it with the FSA ID.
So the student can sign it and click sign, um, and submit. And then the parent can also do the same thing if the parent’s signature is needed. And it will say that if it’s needed and submit it will ask you which parent are you, and you’ll be able to select which parent you are. And then there’s one more read before proceeding again.
Asking you to be sure, for sure, for sure that everything that you’ve provided is accurate.
And then you have the area where you would enter as a parent, your FAFSA ID, and password as your signature. And then this is what it looks like when you’re finally done. You get this feel, this page that has a confirmation number, um, a data release number. So go ahead and fill and screenshot this. You will get an email confirmation, but screenshot it as well so you have it for your records.
And then it tells you, um, what the timeline is like for processing the FAFSA and how you’ll be notified once it’s processed. . Um, if you have questions about the FAFSA, uh, there are resources, um, that can help you through the actual process. One, I recommend asking your college counselor at your students high school, um, or the counseling office because a lot of times schools themselves will host sort of FAFSA workshops, um, where they do something similar to this.
There are also, I know I’ve personally, um, volunteer for United Ways FAFSA kind of. FAFSA day, um, in my hometown where students from high schools all over the city can come in and we literally sit with them at a computer in the computer lab and complete their FAFSA with them. Um, so see if you can find out any options like that if you need additional assistance.
Um, and then also if you are currently a CollegeAdvisor client, you have access to the financial aid team, specialty team. Um, and we conduct financial aid one-on-one. So those are one-on-one consultations. Um, and we even offer financial aid, or I’m sorry, FAFSA walkthroughs where you would share your screen and we would walk you through.
Each step of the FAFSA in real time with the goal of completing it by the end of the meeting. Um, and we can also answer, you know, more direct and confidential questions in that forum. So if that’s something that you would be interested in too, uh, your student can ask their advisor for assistance.
Booking an appoint.
All right. And now I think we have time for questions and answers. That is, um, outstanding. I, I know how many slides you had, so you went in, um, in amazing fashion. We have been getting, um, a lot of questions in the chat that I’ve been trying to tackle, but thank you so much Ashly for that. A really thoughtful and comprehensive walkthrough.
Uh, that is the end of the presentation. Uh, I hope you found Ashly’s comments and, uh, advice. So helpful. And again, you can download the slides and, and in, and some of them that we didn’t get a chance to present are included in the handouts tab. Uh, we’re gonna move on to the live Q&A. I will read through your questions.
Um, in the Q&A tab, I will pay some into the public chat so that. Can see them and then I’ll read them aloud so that Ashly can give us an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link that you received in your email and not from the CollegeAdvisor.com landing page.
You might have to log back out and log back in if the system is not letting you answer questions. And again, a reminder and ask that you please keep your questions general and try not to ask too many, um, personal or specific questions for you. Um, really quickly, Ashly, one question that came in earlier on was if you could repeat what you had shared about international students.
So international students are not eligible for federal student aid, so you do not have to complete the FAFSA. Um, federal student aid is reserved for US citizens and nationals. Um, so if you are an international student and you’re looking for financial aid, then your best resources are to go to. The financial aid offices and to understand how financial aid works at the universities that you’re applying to, um, or to seek out external scholarships.
Thank you. Um, the next question was related to who’s the pastor for. I answered this in the chat, but I just feel like it’s valuable for us to answer it aloud. Um, is the FAFSA only for need based aid or is the FAFSA also required in order for applicants to be considered for merit based aid? The FAFSA is required.
Period. Um, don’t, don’t overthink, whether it’s for need based aid or merit based aid, your universities and colleges that you’re applying to require the FAFSA. Now, are they gonna kick you out if you don’t submit it? No, but they’re gonna assume that you don’t want any money, that you’re good. All right. So I know from personal experience, my parents didn’t think they had to fill out the FAFSA until they needed additional help, and then they had to fill out the FAFSA in the middle of the year.
So just even to have the safety net of the school having all the information, if you need to turn on, turn on a financial dime, complete the FAFSA, your schools, I guarantee you the colleges that you’re going to strongly, strongly recommend it, if not require it. There’s certain states, I think in Texas, you have to submit it.
and they have their own separate form, the ta. But, um, the, so a question, uh, related to that is, would not filling out the FAFSA affect the student’s ability to be accepted into a college? No, not usually. Uh, usually the FAFSA deadline is a little bit later than your application deadline. So the decision could have been made well before you received the FAFSA.
But again, I wouldn’t test that theory. Uh, it’s not worth it to test the theory, especially if the school that you’re applying to is need conscious. If you are not submitting your FAFSA, then again, they’re going to assume that that’s a tacit kind of, um, acknowledgement that you don’t need financial help.
And so they will, depending again on that school’s financial aid ethos, potentially pass you over, um, to make sure that they’re able to help another student. Um, thank you for that. So there’s a. Clarifying question, and I think we’re gonna get into various shades of this question. Do both parents have to fill out the FAFSA application or is it just one parent?
So if both parents are, if the taxes are joint, both parents should fill it out. If there’s a situation where one parent were parents have separate, um, finances for any reason, then again, I would refer you back to the screen that says who should fill this out? Um, and they will give you literally every single version of a family.
Structure so that you know exactly who needs to do it. But rather than I answer somewhat kind of vague questions about who fills what out. I would refer you back to the page that the FAFSA has that very clearly outlines who needs to fill out what in the event that you have one parent or two parents or one, you know, custodial parent, one non-custodial parent, that is going to be your best advice.
And I know you said it, but uh, just for the repetition, um, who needs to create the FSA ID Do both parents need an FSA ID? So yes. Everybody who could potentially sign the FAFSA needs an FSA ID. So if both parents are going to submit the FAFSA then and put their information on the FAFSA, then yes, they both need FAFSA IDs and the student needs one.
Thank you. Um, getting, okay, so there are a couple of questions and you can decline to answer this, but we’ve had a couple questions about 529 plans. Are they counted towards net worth? Do you have to be precise in the number that you give on when we’re talking about the 529 plan? How do 529 plans factor in?
Where do they need to show up on the FAFSA? So the 529 plan should still show up on your taxes. Um, and so if they’re listed on your taxes, then it’s going to come over onto the FAFSA. So, um, and the, and what I can say is that, They will determine using the FAFSA and the Department of Education will determine using their own formula, how that counts for or against your assets.
But at the end of the day, it is a fund, it’s money. Um, so that, that’s going to be counted, I mean, toward your assets. It’s not, it’s not protected. Okay to that, uh, one person asks, Can I do partial completion? Come back several times to finish on the FAFSA. And then also related to that, around the number of schools that it can be submitted to.
And if you can go back in and add schools. So yes, you can save your progress on the FAFSA and come back to it. Um, there will be, you can see on the FAFSA like where it says save. And then if you try and exit, it’ll say, Do you wanna save your results? And then you can use your FSA ID to sign back in so you can come back to it.
Um, I recommend if you’re going to walk away from it, either walk away from it after you’ve done the IRS data transfer or before, but don’t, don’t try it and then walk away or, you know, like, just make sure you either get through that part or you wait until you get to that part. Um, what was the other question?
Um, adding. , you can add schools after the fact. Um, so that is an option. I think I also saw somebody say, What if I have more than 10 schools? Um, if you have more than 10 schools, you still need to prioritize the schools that are getting them. Um, you can always remove schools and change them around if you need to, but if you only have 10 slots, then I, I know you don’t have like a top 10 universities.
So based on. What your college list looks like, then you are gonna want to prioritize the schools that, um, you are most wanting to get into. Um, so to that point, I just wanna reiterate that for some states, the order in which you put schools in to the FAFSA matters, um, someone in the comment said that that is true for Pennsylvania.
I know that that is true for New York. And so I would definitely make sure for the state systems that you are applying to, if they have an order in which they receive the FAFSA and how that changes, um, the way that your application is considered processed. And, um, yeah. So I just wanted to add that to your, uh, to your comments.
All right. Getting some specific questions around IRAs and a little bit more. Pieces. All right. Some of these questions, sorry folks are too personal, um, too specific to your situation. Um, but someone did ask just for clarity regarding which tax. I feel like you might have said 2020, but is it the 2021 taxes that are needed?
No, it’s the 2020 taxes that are needed for the 2023 fall freshman class. So if your child, or if you personally are starting college in fall 2023, it’s gonna be based on your 2020 taxes. Okay. There was some, I guess someone said they looked on the FAFSA and said the, the website told them 2021. So I think there might just be, Hmm.
We’ll see. All right. We need 2021 for the CSS profile, which is something completely different, but the FAFSA is based on 2020. Okay. Um, I feel like there are questions about parents who don’t support students, um, who are not in the household, and I think that goes back to your initial statement of check on the FAFSA about who needs to fill out the FAFSA, who needs to be present on that form.
yeah, a lot of it is family, family situations. Um, do you have any guidance for parents who have a noncustodial, um, uninvolved parent? So, again, defer to what the FAFSA recommends that you do. There is a question. Um, yeah, there it, there is a scenario on that list for. Families that have a non-custodial or uninvolved parent, and so defer to what that’s going to ask you.
Okay. Um, someone was asking about completing the FAFSA twice. Um, so I guess they have two children. Are they completing a FAFSA for each of their children? Yes. Each of your children need their own FAFSA. Okay. Um, and then someone was asking how is it considered, is there, are there pen benefits or penalties when you have two students enrolled in college?
Um, and is there a difference if you have one at a public or state school and the other attending a private institution? Um, I’m actually not sure that they differentiate between public and private institution on the general kind of FAFSA, but they do ask how many people in your household are enrolled in college, Um, and that.
I think implying that they take that into account, into their, in their formula in terms of expenses and that type of thing. Um, can I absolutely tell you that that will make a substantial impact in your EFC I can’t, but that is something that they’re conscious of and so something that I’m sure they factor into their formula.
Okay. Um, someone asks a question of, do I have to put a college? What if I’m not sure where I’m going? So I guess they’re unsteady about their list, but they know they need to apply for aid. Mm-hmm. ? Um, I don’t think you have. You might have to, you might have to put at least one in there. Um, because the data has to go somewhere.
It needs somewhere to go. Um, but again, you can adjust the schools that are listed. Um, And if you have, So one thing that I didn’t talk about was when the FAFSA is due, um, when you have to submit it. So each school and or state has their own due date by which you need to have submitted, um, the FAFSA. So defer to the state due date, if there is a state, um, due date or requirement for the FAFSA, defer to that because you might be applying for schools out of state that have a later due date, then you don’t wanna miss the state deadline.
Um, but as far as deadlines are concerned, um, having an idea of which schools you wanna go to and knowing what their FAFSA deadline is, might help you. Wait a little bit in order to, um, to actually add some schools to it. Um, if you don’t know, it’s not written in stone. All that’s happening when you’re listing schools on the FAFSA is that you’re giving the Department of Education permission to send your EFC and your, basically just your EFC to those schools.
That’s it. Um, you can send a FAFSA over to a school that you never even end up applying to. Um, and all they’ll do is get rid of that data, um, when they see that it doesn’t match with an applicant. So, um, it’s, it’s not, it’s not a huge commitment to add something to change. , it doesn’t impact your admissions at all.
Thank you. Uh, one person asked, are there advantages? I think so it doesn’t change anything when you submit it, or is submitting the facts sooner rather than later to a student’s benefit? It de again, it depends on the financial aid program at the school that you’re looking at. If the financial aid program at that school is very need centric and basically their financial aid, their institutional aid is also based on demonstrated need.
You wanna get that in as early as possible. Ideally, you wanna get it in with or before your application. What you don’t want to happen is that you submit an application, they’re able to make a decision about whether or not you get in. But because they don’t have the FAFSA, they’re unable to make a decision about your financial aid.
So again, always look for the financial aid deadline or the FAFSA deadline, um, for those schools, and make sure you get it in by then. If you get it in earlier than that, it could impact it, but I wouldn’t say significantly. I always tell people to have a self-imposed. Um, of like November 15th, that which is usually when people who are applying early decision need to have their FAFSA in.
So that is much earlier than if you’re applying regular decision. You will be good, you will be getting it in pre, like, super early and it’ll be out of your hair. So, um, know what the deadlines are so that you can understand kind of what the rhythm of their financial aid decision making process is going to be.
Um, but also just get it done if you can. Um, someone question came of like, how do you get the EFC? Is it mailed to you? Is it emailed? And how long does it take to, for you to receive it after completing the FAFSA? So you’ll get an email, uh, with your EFC in it. Um, they say right now it’s like three to five days of processing time.
So usually your EFC can come, um, at this point, at a high. Volume time, um, within a couple weeks and it’ll come to your email address. Thank you. So there are a lot of very specific questions, personal questions that are coming up and we know that it is a very trying time. Um, so for those in the room who are not already working with us, um, I just want you to know that there are is a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts who are ready to help you and your family navigate the process through 101 advising sessions.
If you’re already involved with CollegeAdvisor.com, you can sign up and reach out to your primary advisor to request a one-on-one financial aid session for other folks. We would invite you to take the next step in your college admissions journey and sign up for free 45 to 65, 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team.
You can use the QR code that is on the screen. During that meeting, we’ll talk about extracurriculars overall application strategy, college list, and outline the variety of tools you’ll need to stand out in the admissions process. Um, alright, so I just wanna share that as a resource. Uh, but back to the Q&A.
Um, hang on, lemme scroll on down. Um, are there families who do not qualify for assistance? So should we, do we make too much money to submit the FAFSA? You can’t know that you make too much money to submit the FAFSA unless you submit the FAFSA. So there, the, the depart, the FAFSA is what tells you whether or not you have demonstrated need.
Um, and so you really, you can’t, you can’t know until you’ve done it. Um, and it is a kind of surreptitious press. Like we don’t, the Department of Education does not reveal what their formula is, so we don’t have any way of knowing and being able to kind of give like a ballpark of if you make X amount of dollars, because there’s so many other factors that they’re also considering that we couldn’t possibly know.
So the safest thing to do is to submit the FAFSA anyway, Just get it in there. Um, there are families who. Estimated family contribution can exceed the cost of attendance at a school that they’re applying to, which ultimately means that that family is expected based on, again, the FAFSAs, you know, formula, that that family is expected to pay the full cost of attendance at that school.
Does that mean that they will, It depends on the financial aid program at that school. If that financial aid program has merit based funding, then it’s possible that the student could still get a scholarship and could still get a full ride if they are an excellent student or an athlete. Um, but. All of that, it, it’s all factored based on the information provided in the FAFSA.
Um, and then I think if you could speak to what happens after the first year, someone ask if there a penalty or right effect, and you do not fill up the FAFSA for one year. You do a freshman year, but you don’t do a sophomore year, will it hurt you for junior or senior year? So if you could talk, guess about the ongoing process of the FAFSA when students start start college.
Um, yeah. So the FAFSA is refiling. The FAFSA is required year to year. Um, again, It’s strongly recommended, if not required by institutions and sometimes by your state to submit it and resubmit it annually. It’s important to know what that policy is for your state and what that policy is for, um, your school.
And also if you have external scholarships, um, sometimes that’s a requirement of the external scholarships, if it’s a renewable scholarship. Um, so there could be a negative impact depending on those criteria. Um, of not submitting your FAFSA for a year. Like I said, schools will rarely kind of discontinue a student for not submitting the FAFSA, but what not submitting the FAFSA is signaling is that you do not have financial need and you are in a position to pay your entire cost of attendance.
They take it that far with that assumption. Um, and so if that’s not something that you will do willingly and voluntarily, then I don’t recommend skipping a year. Thank you. Um, there’s a question for folks who are US citizens who live abroad, but submit taxes in the states. Are they eligible to complete FAFSA?
Yes. If you are a US citizen, then you are eligible to complete the FAFSA if you are. Yes.
Okay. I guess a parent is asking, they have a 529 for one child, but not the other. is that, are they, should they report the 529 if it’s not for the child who’s currently going to college? I think that’s the structure of the question. . Um, again, what the FAFSA is concerned with is what resources do you have, period, Not what resources are intended for whom.
Um, so to err on the side of kind of good faith reporting, I would say that you would still need to include that.
Um, I don’t know if you can give any context or guidance around IRAs or retirement, um, accounts and how those are factored or considered. No, I, again, we don’t know how things are factored because we are not given the formula. Um, and there’s a reason that they don’t, that they don’t disclose the formula.
Because if we knew it, then we would be able to. Um, make some decisions, um, and report or not report some things that would maximally benefit us. And the goal is for the people who using a flat baseline, the people who demonstrate the most need with this formula are the people who are prioritized for federal aid.
Um, so no, unfortunately, I can’t speak to how your retirement, IRAs, PDs, any of that are going to be factored. But what you should know is that they will be. Okay. Um, so yeah, I think, yeah. All right. Um, I think folks are, want a little bit more specific. I think the questions that we’re getting in the chat do require kind of like having a specific financial aid advisor sit down and talk about your case and your situation.
Um, I can understand how frustrating that might be for some of our, our folks on the line. But, um, a lot of the questions are just, we can’t answer it without knowing your specific context, your specific situation. Um, and we, I think we’re adverse to giving broad advice, um, about what is good or what is bad or what should or should not be included at this point.
Um, so I’m gonna try to find some other questions, um, for us to focus on. So apologies for that. Um, And there are a number of resources, um, even provided by the Department of Education. If you go to that student gov website that talk through some of these specific questions that you’re answering, they have a lot of frequently asked question guides, a lot of how to’s.
Um, there’s no shortage of information, um, that you can find that might answer those questions as well. But remember that all of these questions require a lot more context than what you’re able to give and what I’m able to define. So, um, yeah, if, if you’re a finance, if you are a CollegeAdvisor, um, client or family, I highly recommend that you sign up for a financial aid one on one so that we can actually get into the specifics of your case.
This might still be a specific question, but I’m gonna ask, um, what. , is there a specific way that they’re supposed to put in amounts of things? I know there’s a question where it says you’re checking or your savings account. How much do you have? Do they have to be precise, specific? Like, I think there’s a little bit of paranoia of if you are imprecise with that number, again, this is all gonna be in good faith.
Um, if you have $6,198 in your checking account and you say you have, you know, 4,000, then that’s, that’s very different, um, than kind of rounding up or down. Obviously both your savings account and checking account could be vastly different from like today than they are tomorrow or they were yesterday.
So those kinds of questions are intended to further contextualize all the other information that you’re reporting. Um, I doubt that they’re going to. , you know, call your bank. I don’t think they even have the ability to do that, but you should know on forms like the CSS profile, um, which is another financial aid form that you might have to fill out, depending on the schools that your child is applying to, they will ask for documentation.
They will ask for a copy of a bank, uh, statement or something like that. So knowing that you’re kind of sending information to the same place and potentially having vastly different information, you, you wanna avoid that. The, the whole point of this exercise is to do it in good faith, um, are what would be the process for a student?
Can they fill out the information for their parent? If their parent is not a citizen, but the student is a citizen? So yes, they can fill out their parents’ information if you are. So the FAFSA is intended to identify the student’s eligibility for federal aid. So if the student is a citizen, then they are eligible to complete the FAFSA.
If the parent or guardian is not a citizen, then you still need to report earnings and things like that. But that’s not, that does not disqualify you from being able to get aid. Just to clarify, we said this, but I just wanna repeat it again for folks. Someone asked about more than one child. You, you’ll have to submit the FAFSA for each child.
However, you can use the same FSA ID, right? So you do have to fill out the FAFSA twice, one for each of your children. But you can use the same singular account, FSA ID, to sign for either of those FAFSA. But each child, each person going to college will need their own FAFSA completed. Um,
For that. All right. Sorry. Trying to find, trying to find not specific questions. Trying to find general questions for you. Um, um,
are there, I guess, resources that you’re aware of, um, outside of some folks were asking for links to the sites that you’re referring to, Would they, would their best bet just to be, to check on the FAFSA website? The FAFSA FAQ website? Yeah. I mean, so I’ll put the, let’s see. Um,
So this is helpful. Um, it’s a how to fill out your FAFSA form. Um, kind of walk through that, I’ll put in the general chat. Um, and then if you go to that site and look at that, then that can like kind of lead you down the rabbit hole of the other resources. Um, there’s a number of different kind of links that you can drill down into, um, that will be helpful for you.
And know we didn’t get time to talk about this in today’s session is supposed to be focused on the FAF loop, but can you just in the last few minutes that we have, talk a little bit about the FAFSA versus the CSS profile? Sure. So where the FAFSA is intended primarily to determine eligibility for federal aid, vote loans and grants, the CSS profile is.
Is an application intended to identify financial aid eligibility at the institutional level by a select group of institutions that use that document. So all students do not need to submit the CSS profile. You’ll want to check the website, and they have a listing of CSS profile partner schools, and that will identify which schools on your list or CSS profile schools.
But ultimately, what the CSS profile is used for is all of the different schools where you have that information sent. Um, they’re going to use your tax documentation. They’re going to use, um, more current, um, financial documents like pay stubs, bank account balances, um, bank statements to further contextualize your financial situation.
So the CSS profile is, I would say even more detailed than the FAFSA and can feel a bit more invasive than the FAFSA. Um, but that is because these individual institutions are trying to further contextualize your financial information. So if the FAFSA’s formula is very, very clunky and large picture, the CSS profiles formula is much more precise.
They’re also gonna ask for more biographical information about your family, about your student than the FAFSA does. And that’s because in addition to seeing, to identifying eligibility for institutional need based funding, they’re also using that information to identify eligibility for non need based funding.
So a lot of private schools have endowed scholarships that have some of the requirements for the scholarships that have been set by the donors are. Really, really, really specific. Um, and the best way for them to know that they’re matching and accurately matching students with funds is to ask all of the questions that could possibly, um, make them eligible to receive it.
So while the CSS profile feels like a lot, it’s more work, it can be kind of tedious. It’s a lot of questions you’ve already answered before. What it means is that the schools that are on it are doing what they can to ensure that they’re not leaving any money on the table. Thank you. Um, thank you so much for talking all those questions and for everyone’s patience as we tried to get through, um, some of those, uh, specific questions.
And again, encouraging you to sign up with CollegeAdvisor.com. If you are already involved with us, please reach out to your primary advisor and ask them to set up a one on one financial aid session for you. That is the end of our webinar. Thank you so much, Ashly, for your patience and thoughtfulness in going through today’s session.
I’m sure that you gained a lot of, uh, tips and strategies for navigating the FAFSA that inserting the financial aid process. Um, we hope that you will join us for some of our future webinars. Uh, tomorrow we have a Masterclass on Building the Application Timeline. There will be a Merit Scholarships Essay Writing session on October 10th, and we will have a panel on the 11th with alumni from the University of California.
Uh, thanks so much for your time and energy this evening. Hope to see you soon. Until next time, have a great evening All.