Not only is winter the season of sweaters, hot chocolate, and snowfall, it’s also the season to start making administrative decisions of more gravitas. With admission decisions rolling out soon for many schools, UCR included, figuring finances is looming in the minds of many (see: parents). Thankfully, the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) makes it easy to submit your info in order to qualify for financial aid in the forms of grants, loans, and work-study. Now this may seem overwhelming for you incoming Highlanders, but Life at UCR has your FAFSA guide for a stress-free submission (stick around, returning Highlanders! A refresher never hurt anybody).
Please collect your excitement before we proceed. Source.
The FAFSA asks a lot of questions regarding your financial situation, and I mean A LOT. So it’s time to bust open that behemoth crate holding all your receipts to find these documents:
- Your parents’ most recent tax return (or yours, if you file as independent)
- Your social security number
- The federal school code of your prospective schools (UCR’s is 001316, thank me later)
- Your driver’s license
- A list of any assets that wouldn’t necessarily be found easily or at all in a tax return (untaxed income, investments, etc.)
In addition, you must also create a Personal Identification Number for you (and your parent, if you are a dependent) that acts as another security measure in guarding your personal data. This can be done here.
The Main Event:
Now that you’re as prepped as one can be for a filling out of a governmental application, there are a few nuggets of knowledge that are extremely important.
Firstly, the website to file your FAFSA is www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you’ve been skimming up until this point I urge you to review that link again. There are a few predatory websites out there with similar web addresses that are scamming hardworking students trying to fill out their forms. The aforementioned link is the real deal, capisce?
Just as important are the FAFSA deadlines. How foolish would you look if you missed out on free money because you were binge watching Gilmore Girls way past the deadline? (Super foolish. Rory would disapprove.) Good news is that the window for filing your FAFSA is already open and will continue accepting applications until March 2, 2015 for the state of California. Read that date. Memorize that date. Tattoo that date on yourself if you have to. Be that date. Applying before March 2 qualifies you for both state-given aid and federal aid, so missing that date is simply ludicrous.
Not THAT ludicrous. Source.
Now simply fill out the application and make sure you submit!
Ask a professional:
I already know what you’re thinking. “Josh, as fine of young man as you are, you are simply a student. How am I to expect you to be an authority on such an important process?” Well, astute reader, right you are. This is only a compilation of the few times I’ve done my FAFSA and by no means the opinion of a professional. However, lucky for you there is a wealth of knowledge on FAFSA and many other financial aid topics on UCR’s financial aid website. There you will find a more comprehensive look at the FAFSA process and also the means to get in contact with a bonafide financial aid officer. If you’re more of a “in the flesh” sort of person you can stop by our Highlander One Stop Shop (HOSS) and get answers and info there as well.
Even if you’re unsure whether or not you qualify, just apply! We know college isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, and getting any help you can makes a world of difference.