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The Fast Track to FAFSA

February 6, 2013
Irvington High School

By Chelsie Riche

Seniors it’s finally the time! Five more months left of school and so little time to prepare for the challenges college life will hurl your way. Nonetheless, don’t worry! There are a few things that can be done to make sure you are on top of your game before receiving that college acceptance letter.

Apart from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT), the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the most important aspects of applying for colleges that you want to attend. The FAFSA application determines the amount of needs scholarships and student loans a student will get for college based on their parents income.

The FAFSA site is www.fafsa.gov. Once logged in, students will be asked to give the following information: Full name, social security number, and date of birth. Students will then be asked to create an account. Once the account is activated students can start the application.

“The application is very easy. Students just have to log into the FAFSA site and sign in,” said Mrs. Laurence, a guidance counselor at Irvington High School. “However, students have to make sure that the site is the official government site, to prevent hackers from getting their personal information.”

Many students think the process will be long and difficult, but that’s not the case. The application takes about an hour to be completed. The main questions that will be asked are about the colleges students have applied for and their parents or guardians’ income if they are declared as dependents on their parents income tax.

“I thought the FAFSA was going to be hard and complicated but it was very easy. For every question, I was given descriptions of what needed to go on every area,” stated Nicholas Addo, senior at Irvington High School.

Since most parents have not file for taxes yet this year, students are given the option to decide on the status of their parents 2012 tax returns; “will file,” “have filed,” “not going to file.” In a case where the student’s parents will file their taxes, the student will chose the “will file” option, and may proceed with the application using the previous year’s tax return.

“Students must not wait to receive the 2012 tax return before applying for FAFSA, because the longer they wait the less likely they would get enough money available from the state,” said Mrs. Laurence.

“Students can use their parents tax return from 2011 to estimate the income for 2012 or they may use the last paycheck received in December which will let students know the income made in 2012,” she continued.

The best thing about the FAFSA however, is that, once the application is completed, it tells you the scholarships, grants, and loans students are eligible for.

What is there to lose really? The application is free and convenient.

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