When it Comes to College Financial Aid, Filing Early Isn't Always Best

"Great news for the super-organized: Starting Sunday, you can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to start your financial aid process for the 2018-19 school year," CNBC reports

"Conventional wisdom dictates that you should do so as soon as possible. Yet for some families, biding your time may boost aid dollars, said Kalman Chany, president of Campus Consultants Inc. and author of The Princeton Review's 'Paying for College Without Going Broke.' The 2018 edition was published Sept. 19.

'The big myth is that all aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, but for many types of aid it's not,' Chany said. 'Families should file the form when they're going to demonstrate the most eligibility for money.'

Families who aren't under the gun to file quickly might be able to boost their chances by considering how their assets will be measured in aid calculations. For example, most types of debt, including credit-card debt, car loans and the mortgage on your primary residence, are not reported on FAFSA and so don't reduce your family's net worth in aid calculations.

... Don't delay filing if you're not on top of all relevant deadlines.

'The biggest mistake that people make is not filling out the FAFSA, or filling it out late,' said Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Other top mistakes filers make are mixing up parent and student information on the form, such as entering a parent's Social Security number instead of the student's and entering a nickname instead an exact legal name, McCarthy said. Because such errors can delay processing, you should build in some buffer time before your earliest deadline."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 10/2/2017

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