How to Complete Your FAFSA

How to Complete Your FAFSA

How to Complete Your FAFSA

As if filling out college applications and waiting on decisions were not stressful enough, the federal government has one more computer form for you to complete if you would like to be eligible for any federal aid or federal loans. And, many colleges require that you complete a FAFSA for any of their aid as well. Read How to Complete Your FAFSA for a guide to collecting the information you will need before you begin. You will also find a List of Terms and their definitions and other helpful hints.

The FAFSA checklist is part of the Planning for College Checklists. To receive your FREE DOWNLOAD, sign up below.

 

How to Complete Your FAFSA

 

The general rule is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) whether you believe you will qualify for financial aid or not. The ONLY website you will need to complete the FAFSA is: https://fafsa.ed.gov. Do NOT be tricked by other websites that may charge you for assisting with filing your FAFSA. Filing the FAFSA is free through the .gov website. The form becomes available every year on October 1.

 

Before you begin the FAFSA form, you will need the following information:

  • The social security number of the student
  • The social security numbers of the parents
  • The driver's license of the student
  • Prior year's W-2s and income records for both student and parents. To file a 2018-2019 form, you will need your records from 2016.
  • The federal tax returns for both the parents and the student
  • Records of ALL assets – cash, real estate, and investments. You do NOT have to include the home you live in or any retirement funds, such as IRAs and 401Ks.
  • Records of any untaxed income – child support, veteran's benefits, etc. for both parent and student

 

When you are ready to begin the FAFSA form, you will see terms (and their acronyms) that you may not be familiar with.

  • IRS DRT (Data Retrieval Tool): The IRS DRT will retrieve tax data and automatically fill in that information on the FAFSA form.
  • SAR (Student Aid Report) :The SAR is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.
  • EFC (Expected Family Contribution): The EFC is how much money your family is expected to contribute to your education. The FAFSA will compute this amount based on your answers. Schools use the EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and financial aid award. It is not necessarily the amount you will end up paying, but is used by schools to determine your aid.
  • COA (Cost of Attendance): The entire cost to attend school including tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel, and personal expenses
  • Renewal FAFSA: The form you will fill out for subsequent school years after your initial filing. It will carry forward information from your previous FAFSA forms.

For more terms and their definitions, see the Federal Student Aid Glossary.

 

Other information to help you complete your FAFSA:

 

  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will focus primarily on: assets and income of parents and student, family size, and number of dependent children enrolled in college in a given year
  •  Assets you DO NOT HAVE TO LIST:  family owned small business assets (if fewer than 100 employees), your home equity, retirement accounts, and personal assets (cars, clothing, household items)
  • Assets you DO HAVE TO LIST:  529 accounts, assets not in retirement accounts, prepaid college plans, trust funds, collectibles, rental property not held in an LLC
  • The Federal Deadline  for the FAFSA is June 30. However, states and institutions that use the FAFSA to calculate aid may have different deadlines. See 2019-2020 FAFSA Deadlines more information.

 

Filing out a FAFSA is not the most fun experience in the world. I know because I have filled out the darn thing. Knowing How to Complete Your FAFSA and preparing ahead of time will save frustration later while you are in the midst of trying to file it. To receive a copy of the printable with a list of information to collect before you begin, subscribe below. You will also receive the College Preparation Checklist for High School Juniors and the College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors.

 

 

PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

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What To Bring On A College Tour

What To Bring On A College Tour

What to Bring on a College Tour

 

Are you headed out for college tours? Between our two oldest sons, I have walked through a lot of college campuses. I have listened to counselor presentations, sampled the food, and bought the t-shirts for more colleges that I can remember. These tours give rise to both dreams and head-shaking. They can also try your patience and your feet. Read on for a survival list of What to Bring on a College Tour.

 

What to Bring on a College Tour

 

Don't leave home without:

 

Sensible, non-brand-new shoes and/or BAND-AIDS:

You will see a variety of clothing and footwear options on college tours. Do not follow the example of most of these people. In every group, there will be at least one prospective female student dressed in an adorable outfit and heels. She is usually with her mother, who is also well dressed, but in slightly more sensible footwear. Others seemed dressed in what is appropriate for their home state. I once saw a mother from New York was wearing corduroy pants and boots on a 78-degree day in California. I started sweating looking at her.

Leave fashion aside and wear comfortable, walking shoes.

 

Your camera or smartphone camera

Most campuses have at least one location that makes it truly unique and photo-worthy.

Views of the Pacific Ocean from the Pepperdine campus in Malibu make great backdrops for Christmas card-worthy family photos and the University of Southern California is the only place you will be able to get a picture of your kids touching OJ Simpson’s Heisman Trophy. Baylor University has real live bears.

In addition to sight-seeing pictures, a few pictures of the campus and the sample dorm room will help you remember the specifics of each tour after all the campuses start running together in your head.

 

A working writing utensil and a List of Questions to Ask

Those counselor lectures fly by and contain a huge amount of detail. Jotting a few notes can save hours searching through the website later for the information. Check out College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions.

 

Your Planning for College Planner

After going through not only the college tour process, but also the entire journey from the freshman year of high school to the freshman year of college, I created a Planning for College planner to help high school students and their parents navigate college admissions. The planner contains pages to take notes and evaluate each visit while you can still remember what the tour guide said.

 

A sense of humor and adventure

The search for the “perfect” school for each kiddo can be stressful. On our Southern California tour, my husband and I successfully navigated through Los Angeles without completely losing our minds, but getting to USC required about 6 trips around the block to get into the correct turn-lane for the college entrance and my husband and son had to jump as I briefly slowed the car in a construction zone on the UCLA campus to be on time for that tour. Even if it is your alma mater, the streets and parking will not be exactly like they were 25 years ago when you attended school there.

Yes, it's really happening. Your child is going to attend one of the schools you traipse through following a college student walking backwards. You may as well get on board, have fun along the way, and don't forget What to Bring on a College Tour.

 

PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

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How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials

How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials

A YEAR OF CARE PACKAGE PRINTABLES

 

 

All of the supply lists, box decorations, and item tags to make Care Packages for Halloween, 2 Different December Finals, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Spring Finals. Over 50 of my most popular downloads all together in one place and it's TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community.

The Year of Care Package Printables is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. If you prefer not to be a member, you may purchase the printables through the same link below.

 

How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials

 

Oh my, but the costs of a college education never end. Tuition and room and board are only the beginning. Then the school bookstore wants $298 for a textbook and you need to set up an entire living situation for your darling college student. If you are going to have to buy all this stuff, you don't want to waste a cent doing it. With one already in college and one beginning this fall, I have researched How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials. Read on for a few tricks from a mamma who has been there.

How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar. Thank you for supporting Almost Empty Nest.

 

 

The Best Deals on Textbooks

 

The first rule of buying textbooks is DO NOT log on to the university bookstore and put everything they recommend for the courses in your cart and check out. Your bill will be in the thousands and you will end up with materials your student does not need and that you have paid too much for. The school bookstore will put every resource related to the course that they carry. However, do print the list.

Next, go to Amazon. Search for the textbook. It helps to have the ISBN number (the little number on the back of every book above the bar code). If you do not have the ISBN number, make sure you search for the correct book by checking the title, authors, and edition. The best price will be to rent the textbook. Renting is a great option because your student will not have to think about what to do with the book at the end of the semester. They return it and are done with it. The drawback to renting textbooks is the risk of having to purchase the book if it is lost, damaged, or highlighted or written in “excessively.”

The next cheapest option is to purchase a used book. Because most of the textbook dealers list their books on Amazon, you can immediately see the prices from many different dealers.

If you like new books and don't mind paying for them, Amazon also sells new textbooks.

As I have helped my sons purchase books, I start by checking Amazon. I write down the best price for renting and purchasing used books. Then I check other sites and the school bookstore. I almost always come back to Amazon, but occasionally there is a better deal somewhere else.

At the end of the semester or school year, list any books your student is finished with for sale on Amazon. You will get a much better price selling it yourself rather than taking what the school bookstore offers.

 

 

The Best Deals on Dorm Room Items

 

If you don't want to spend too much on dorm room items, don't over-buy. There are not many items that cannot be picked up later if your student needs them. Print out the free College Dorm Room Checklist. You do not need every item on the list or on any list. Lists are a guide of things to consider. When in doubt, don't buy it yet.

There are a few stores we all think of when shopping for dorm items. They are listed below with strategies for shopping at each.

 

The Container Store

Nobody has cooler stuff than The Container Store. Anything you buy there will be of exceptional quality and will last all through college and beyond. The drawback is that their items are not cheap. Try to buy the more expensive items on sale (they rotate their sales on various products throughout the year.)  In addition all purchases over $75 are shipped free. Whether you are ordering online or going to the store, check out Raise for discounted gift cards. Most of the cards can be instantly downloaded, so once you fill your cart, go to Raise and buy a gift card at a discount, then use the gift cards to pay for your order. Cha-ching! Instant savings!!

Text COLLEGELIFE TO 22922 for 20% off your entire purchase between 7/18/19 and 8/18/19.

 

 

The Container Store

Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Everyone knows that BBB has 20% off one item coupons everywhere. They come in the mail. They are in magazines. They come via e-mail or text if you sign-up to receive promotional mail from them. In the stores you are able to use as many coupons as you would like in one transaction. Raise also sells BBB discounted gift cards for both online purchases and in store purchases. 

 

Target

I am a Target shopper. I am in there at least once a week. If you have not downloaded the Target app, do it now. It is worth the time each shopping trip to search for the discounts they are offering through the app. I can't remember how long I have had the app, but my home screen shows I have saved $444 since I began using it. I also have a Target Redcard Debit card. When the checkout person asks if you would like to save 5%, say YES! There is no other credit or debit card offering this kind of benefit on every purchase with no limit. Again, check the Raise app for Target gift cards to increase your savings.

 

IKEA

If you have never been to IKEA, book a trip. It is like Disney Land for furnishing and organizing small (or large) spaces. Their furniture is of good quality and is amazingly cheap. You will not beat their prices for so many items. They are a great spot for desks, tables, shelves, drawer units, rugs, and all things organizing. Bring along a discounted gift card from Raise.

 

Amazon

Don't forget Amazon for all your college needs. Is there anything they don't have and have at a competitive price? Our family is Amazon Prime all the way. Free 2 day shipping on most everything they sell (plus many other benefits). I do not know how I would do Christmas without my Prime membership. Your student can use your membership while at school. They do not need their own. If you do not want a Prime membership, but your student could use one, an Amazon Prime Student is available for free for 6 months and then is half the price of the regular prime membership. I am excited about the [email protected] location. My son can receive packages and return things easily and securely with the Amazon lockers. It is also a rental book drop-off location. Raise also has discounted Amazon cards. I periodically purchase some and put them in my account.

 

Dormify

I recently found out about an online store called Dormify. Dormify was founded by a mother-daughter team who were frustrated with the lack of fashionable dorm bedding and decor. Check out Dormify and use the code SALE20 for 20% off your entire purchase.

 

I wish summer would last forever. I love having my kids around the house, but back to school and the cost of back to school is inevitable. Knowing How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials will protect your wallet while you stock up on the things your kids will need for the school year is a necessity! There are several ways to squeeze every penny out of each purchase. Make your best deal with coupons, sales, tax-free weekends, and apps, then search for a discounted gift card from Raise before you check out.

What are your tips for Back to School Shopping?

 

 

FREE PRINTABLE DORM SHOPPING CHECKLIST

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community!

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. If you prefer not to be a member, you may purchase the printables through the same link below.

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College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors

College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors

PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

Get your FREE copy of the Planning for College Checklists - Junior Year, Summer Before Senior Year, Senior Year, FAFSA, CSS-Profile, Scholarships, Dorm Shopping, Packing for the Move, and the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors

 

Senior Year is FINALLY HERE!! It's time for an exciting year of lasts and firsts – last high school football game, first college application complete! It is going to be a crazy and busy year. To help you to stay organized and keep track of every application, scholarship, and every other aspect of finishing high school and beginning college,  I have prepared a College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors. You may download your free Checklist for High School Seniors by clicking on the link above or below this post.

Other Helpful Posts:

College Preparation Checklist for High School Juniors.

7 Summer Musts Before Senior Year.

10 College Application Tips

College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions

For an ENTIRE PLANNER FULL OF CALENDARS, CHECKLISTS, AND PLANNING SHEETS which will take you from the freshman year of high school to the freshman year of college, check out The Planning for College Planner.

 

College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors

 

The senior year is here and it is time to finish strong and complete these steps.

 

  • Finish your college visits by the end of September. 
  • Make final decision about about which schools to which you will apply. 
  • Gather all of the information you will need for each school's application including all application requirements and all deadlines (admission, financial aid, supplemental department applications, scholarships). Set up a system for organizing all of your applications. The Planning for College Planner is the perfect solution. 
  • Apply for outside scholarships. Read How to Win Scholarships and Pay for College and An Interview with the Winner of over $126,000 in College Scholarships for advice about applying and winning!!
  • Fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is the only way to receive any federal aid or federal loans. Many schools require the FAFSA for in house aid as well. How to Complete Your FAFSA will give you the information you need to know.
  • After decisions are announced, make note of housing and other deposit deadlines.
  • Possibly attend Admitted Students' Days at the schools you are trying to decide between.
  • MAKE YOUR DECISION!
  • Graduate from high school!!!
  • Send final transcript and anything else your school requires. 
  • Schedule your orientation.

 

The senior year is a fun-filled, but sometimes stressful time. This College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors will help you get through it. Be sure to print out your checklist pack. It is available by subscribing below.

If you would like more college preparation checklists, calendars, and planning tools, go to the Planning for College Planner.

PLANNING FOR COLLEGE CHECKLISTS

Get your FREE copy of the Planning for College Checklists - Junior Year, Summer Before Senior Year, Senior Year, FAFSA, CSS-Profile, Scholarships, Dorm Shopping, Packing for the Move, and the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

More from Almost Empty Nest:

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Back to College:The Essential Guide

Back to College:The Essential Guide

A YEAR OF CARE PACKAGE PRINTABLES

The Year of Care Package Printables is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library.

All of the supply lists, box decorations, and item tags to make Care Packages for Halloween, 2 Different December Finals, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Spring Finals. Over 50 of my most popular downloads all together in one place and it's TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community.

If you prefer not to join the community, the printables are available for sale through the same link.

Back to College: The Essential Guide

 

It's almost here. Almost time to make the trek to college. From dorm and textbook shopping to planning for medical care away from home, it seems that there is more to do than there is time, so we better start planning. Back to College: The Essential Guide will give you all the information you need to pick a meal plan, pack, and survive move in day without spending more than necessary.

Also check out the posts that will help ease the transition to college for your kids and your transition to an empty nest.

Back to College: The Essential Guide

 

Shopping for the Dorm Room, Apartment, Textbook, and Other College Essentials:

 

 Whether you are off to college for the first time or are a veteran, you will have some shopping to do to prepare your dorm room or apartment for the new year. Print out FREE checklists for the dorm or new apartment below:

College Dorm Room Checklist.

New Apartment Checklist

Melanie of Parenting High Schoolers shares her Top Ten Dorm Items and also a list of Backpack Essentials.

And be sure to read How to Get the Best Deals on Textbooks and College Essentials for the skinny on how to get the best deals on textbooks and everything else on your list.

 

 

Packing and Surviving Move In Day:

After you have bought all of your stuff, you will need to pack it up and move it to school. Read about how to pack it all up, get it there, and how to survive move-in day.

How to Pack for the Move to College

Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

Another post to check out is Tips for a Great College Move In by Dana E. Baker of Parenting in Real Life.

 

 

College Parent Tips:

 

What if your college student gets sick? Whether it is a minor injury or a medical emergency, these posts will get you prepared. 

Every student needs a small first aid kit in their room. This post will tell you how to make one:

How to Make The Best First Aid Kit for College

Unfortunately they may also need more than a first aid kit. Read about our experience when our son needed the emergency room and surgery at 3:30 on a Sunday morning while away at school in What to Do if Your College Student Has a Medical Emergency.

 

 

Care Packages:

 

While your college kid is away, be sure to send them plenty of care packages. Get tons of ideas from this list.

Care Package Ideas

Adjusting to the Empty Nest:

Do you need a great book about adjusting to the empty nest? Read my review of From Mom to Me Again.

Shannon Hale of Skip to My Life shares her empty nest experience is The Story Behind Skip to My Life.

Miranda Lamb of The Reluctant Cowgirl gives her tips for Coping When the Kids Leave Home.

No one ever said moving to college would be easy for the student or the parent. Thankfully we can help each other along by sharing our information and experiences. Share your best advice in the comments below to help other parents as they read Back to College: The Essential Guide.

FREE PRINTABLE DORM SHOPPING CHECKLIST

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community!

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. If you prefer not to be a member, you may purchase the printables through the same link below.

crockpot meals for two

More from Almost Empty Nest:

How to Move to the U

How to Move to the U

A YEAR OF CARE PACKAGE PRINTABLES

 

 

All of the supply lists, box decorations, and item tags to make Care Packages for Halloween, 2 Different December Finals, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Spring Finals. Over 50 of my most popular downloads all together in one place and it's TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community.

The Year of Care Package Printables is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. If you prefer not to be a member, you may purchase the printables through the same link below.

 

How to Pack for the Move to College

 

It's coming! That day filled with excitement, anxiety, dread, tears, fun, and sweat – that day you finally climb in the car and drive your child to his new temporary home – a college dormitory. You've spent the summer going over the College Dorm Room Checklist and meticulously checked off the items. But before you hit the road, you need some College Packing Tips.

And, don't forget your Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off!

More College Prep Posts:

7 Summer Musts Before Senior Year

College Checklist for High School Seniors

Back to College: The Essential Guide

Top 5 College Preparation Books

College Packing Tips

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.

 

College Packing Tip #1

Gather these supplies:

  • Banker's boxes (can be purchased in multi-packs at Sams, office supply stores, or online). These are just the right size for small collections of items, are easy to carry (handles), and stack in the car or on a dolly.
  • Depending on your items, a few larger boxes
  • Drawer units, storage boxes, laundry baskets, etc. (Any dorm room item that will hold other items.) You will never be sorry you purchased good, quality drawer units that will last through college and beyond.
  • Mover's stretch plastic wrap
  • a system for labeling
  • trash bags
  • Wheeled duffles or suitcases

 

College Packing Tip # 2:

How to pack your clothes for the move to college

Make a small hole in the middle of the non-open end of several trash bags. Slip the trash bags over clothes on hangers.

Place other clothing in wheeled suitcases or in your drawer units.

 

 

College Packing Tip #3:

Packing school supplies and other small collections of items for the move to college:

Small items and other collections fit perfectly into banker's boxes. These boxes have handles are are very easy to label. They can be collapsed and put back in the car for the drive home or easily stored in a dorm room.

 

College Packing Tip #4:

Packing large and oddly shaped items for the move to college:

Some items will not fit in boxes and will have to be placed in the car “as is.” Wrap anything that might get dirty or has loose parts with plastic stretch wrap. As I was sending a boy to school, he did not have many decorative or other large items.

His loose items consisted of a box with a desk chair, a large white board, an American flag he found left behind by our renters at the rent house we own, and his bedding pack already in a plastic container with a handle.

 

 

College Packing Tip #4:

Label, label, label EVERYTHING for the move to college:

Label every box with your child's dorm name, room number, and name. Hopefully you will be met at the curb by some smiling upper classmen who will empty your car and have everything to the dorm room in less than 10 minutes. However, you want these willing souls to bring your stuff to the correct room!

 

Pile all of your stuff by the door and prepare to load it in the car. 

Using these College Packing Tips for your Move to College will save time and headaches once you arrive at your school. The more you can compact the items into containers that are easily carried and stacked, the better it will fit in your car and the easier it will be to get to the dorm room.

If you are a veteran parent of the college move or have other hints, please share them in the comments, then head over to the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop-Off for tips for the move-in day.

 

 

 

FREE PRINTABLE DORM SHOPPING CHECKLIST

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community!

The Dorm Shopping Checklist is part of the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Gain access by becoming an Almost Empty Nest Member. If you prefer not to be a member, you may purchase the printables through the same link below.

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