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Top 10 FAFSA Tips
Aimee Yorsaner College Coach Finance Expert

Written by Aimée Yorsaneron September 11th, 2023

Before I joined the college finance team at College Coach, I was the associate director of financial aid at Babson College. Prior to my stint with Babson, I worked as an assistant director of financial aid at Berklee College of Music, MIT, and Boston University. I've spent most of my professional career working in financial aid and have assisted traditional undergraduates, adult learners, and master’s degree students in financing their educations. I have a master’s degree in human resource education, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a certificate in coaching.
Learn More About Aimée
Wondering how to get started on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? While many families find completing this application daunting, it does not have to be. Gather your appropriate documentation and follow our top 10 tips for success. You’ve got this!
  1. Is completing the FAFSA the only thing I need to do to apply for financial aid? That depends! The FAFSA is required by most schools, but some also utilize the CSS Profile when calculating need-based aid eligibility. These schools may also require tax returns for the appropriate year.
  2. Should I apply for admission to the schools I’m interested in before or after I file the FAFSA? You should check each school's website for financial aid deadlines. The process is usually done in tandem with the admissions process.
  3. Do we have to fill out the FAFSA every year? In order to be considered for federal funding, or other need-based financial aid, you must complete the FAFSA each year.
  4. Should we fill out the FAFSA if we don’t qualify for aid? The only way to know for sure if you qualify for aid is to complete the FAFSA (though Net Price Calculators can generally give you a good idea of what to expect). Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for need-based financial aid, you may want to complete a FAFSA in the following cases: your financial circumstances have changed recently; it’s required for merit scholarship consideration at the schools on your list; or you hope to borrow student loans. Learn more about why higher income families may consider completing a FAFSA.
  5. How do I fill out the FAFSA if my parents are divorced? The parent with who provides the majority of the student's support should complete the FAFSA, regardless of who the student lives with.
  6. If my parent is remarried, do I have to report their new spouse’s income, too? Yes, the FAFSA is completed with your custodial parent's household information, which includes their new spouse.
  7. What are included as assets on the FAFSA? The following are assets reported on the FAFSA: cash, bank and brokerage accounts, CDs, money market accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, stock options, restricted stock units, ETFs, commodities, 529 college savings plans, prepaid tuition plans, Coverdell accounts, hedge funds, trust funds, REITs, investment real estate, precious metals, UGMA/UTMA accounts, businesses, and investment farms.
  8. My FAFSA has been submitted. When do I know how much aid I’m eligible for? The schools that you are applying to will notify you of your financial aid package. Some schools will notify you alongside their admissions decision, while other schools may notify you a few weeks after that.
  9. How do I add more schools to my FAFSA? You can list up to 20 schools on your FAFSA. If you decide to apply to additional colleges after submitting the FAFSA, simply log back in, add the new colleges, and resubmit.
  10. Do I have to fill out a FAFSA for each child? Yes, a FAFSA needs to be filled out for each student planning to attend college. However, you can transfer your information from one child's FAFSA to another so you don't have to re-enter it. Once the FAFSA is complete, you will be directed to a confirmation page. On that page, you will see a hyperlink that says, “Transfer your parents' information into a new FAFSA.” Ensure your pop-up blockers are off so you can access the link.

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