Financial Planning Newsletter for Returning Undergraduate Students
Greetings and welcome to another semester at Lasell College. This newsletter is designed to give you all of the information you should need to reapply for financial aid for the 2013‐14 academic year.
Download the PDF version.
Applying for Financial Aid
As you apply to colleges for admission, you may be offered scholarships based on your academic performance or other merit based criteria. But you may also want to file for federal and state need based grants and loans. To apply for any federal or state financial aid, you need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The time to apply for financial aid for the 2013-14 academic year is just around the corner! Be prepared!
Beginning January 1, 2013 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2013-14 year will be available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can complete it online any time after January 1.
Be aware of the following deadlines for STATE grants which require the FAFSA to be completed (we list the most common states we see grants from, but check the FAFSA instructions for more information on your state if not listed):
- Massachusetts – May 1, 2013
- Connecticut – February 15, 2013
- Vermont – as soon as possible. Grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis until the funds are depleted.
- Maine – May 1, 2013
- Rhode Island – March 1, 2013
- Pennsylvania – May 1, 2013
You do not need to have your taxes filed in order to complete the FAFSA the first time. BUT you do need to go back into the FAFSA once your taxes or your parents taxes are completed and use the Data Retrieval Tool to pull the accurate information into your FAFSA. See the section on Verification for more information.
Remember for most students parent income information AND a parent electronic signature is required to complete the FAFSA. You and your parent BOTH must have a PIN to sign the FAFSA electronically. If you need to get a PIN, you can do so at www.pin.ed.gov.
Filing your tax returns: The IRS will begin accepting tax returns as of January 31, 2013. Approximately two weeks of having submitted yours and your parents tax return, you will be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA to pull your completed tax information into the FAFSA. This is the easiest way to supply your verified income information to our office. Use the DTR if at all possible for both student and parent tax information.
Beginning in February, the Office of Student Financial Planning will begin communicating to currently enrolled students regarding information needed to complete your file.
This is the recommended date by which you should have filed your FAFSA.
This is the week we will begin mailing award letters to students who have completed their FAFSA and provided all the requested information to our office.
Verification - what's old and what's new
As you complete the FAFSA and begin receiving award letters from colleges, you might find that you are being asked to provide additional information to the aid offices, like a tax transcript, or W2 forms, and you might wonder why.
Approximately 30% of all FAFSA applications are selected by the federal government for a process called Verification. This means the Financial Planning office has to collect additional information from the selected students to verify certain items on the FAFSA in order to process any federal and state financial aid, like the Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Pell Grant or Mass State Grant.
For the 2012-13 year, the federal government changed HOW we were allowed to collect tax information. We still need the W2 forms (those wage statements you receive from your employer once a year that you use to file your taxes) but we no longer can accept a copy of your tax return. You must either:
- Use the Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA (EASIEST way to complete verification) which is a button on the FAFSA near both the student and parent financial sections that gives the FAFSA processor permission to pull your tax info right from the IRS and your completed tax return or
- Request a Tax Transcript from the IRS. This can take 2 weeks, sometimes longer, to complete. The IRS will not mail the transcript anywhere except the address on the tax return, so if you moved, you need to make sure you turn in a change of address form at the Post Office!!
For 2013-14 the federal government has added some items we might have to verify for selected students. These items MIGHT include:
- High School diploma – if selected, and you do not provide an official high school diploma to our Admissions or Registrar’s office when admitted, we will have to ask you for a copy of your diploma if you are selected.
- Identity – if selected, students will have to provide to our office a copy of a government issued photo ID. This includes a driver’s license, passport, state ID or military ID.
- Statement of Educational Purpose – if selected, students will need to submit the original signed SEP to our office. We will post one on our website as soon as we have the format and language from the Dept. of Education, but it will need to be printed and signed and MAILED or turned in in person to our office. Copies, faxes, scanned electronic copies will not be acceptable.
Most students will not be selected for these additional items. But if you are, we will ask you for the documentation and we will not be able to disburse aid until the items are received.
The take away message from all of this? Read everything you get from the Office of Student Financial Planning, whether in email or hard copy format, and then follow the instructions in those letters. If you don’t understand something, call or email us!
Additional Sources of Assistance
As you work your way through the college application and acceptance process, you may wonder where you can get additional help with paying for college. A few other sites that can help you are:
Want to stay on top of your aid application and award? You can create yourself as a user in our system, and keep track of your aid application materials as well as your award by logging into NetPartner through this link.