Financial Planning Newsletter for New Undergraduate Students
Greetings! It is our hope that this newsletter will find you well on your way to a successful college admission application process. Read on and you will find some basic information about the financial aid application process and things to keep in mind.
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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; 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 should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The time to apply for financial aid for the 2013-14 academic year is here! Be prepared!
As of January 1, 2013 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2013-14 year is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can complete it online any time after January 1.
Be aware of the deadlines for STATE grants which require a completed FAFSA. Below are the deadlines for some states in our area, 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.
- 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 if not, you 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 must both have a PIN to sign the FAFSA electronically. If you need to get a PIN, you can do so at www.pin.ed.gov.
The Office of Student Financial Planning will begin to award and mailing award packages out in mid-February for those students who have been admitted to the college and have successfully completed the FAFSA.
Once you have received your award package, you will note we will ask for additional information. In order to finalize your file, we will need copies of the student and parents W2 forms, and you will need to either use the Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA or request a tax transcript from the IRS. See the verification section below for more details.
You then have until May 1st, 2013 to pay your nonrefundable deposit of $400 (resident) or $200 (commuter) to the Admissions office to hold your place in the class of 2013.
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.
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.
The federal government requires we collect W2 forms (those wage statements you receive from your employer once a year that you use to file your taxes) but we cannot 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 may require additional items for selected students. These items MIGHT include:
- High School diploma – if selected, and you do not provide an official high school diploma to our 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 statement of educational purpose 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 hand delivered 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 additional documentation and be happy to answer questions regarding it.
The take away message from all of this? This may seem complicated, but if you take this step by step you will be successful. 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.