Guest column: Apply for 2021–2022 financial aid now
By LAURIE HEMPEN
Iowa Student Loan Board
Families who will have students in college for the 2021–2022 school year can take the first step in the financial aid process now.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, for 2021–2022 became available on Oct. 1.
Students and their parents should fill it out early to ensure the best consideration for available college funding, which may be limited. For incoming freshmen, submitting early may also mean more opportunity to compare financial aid offers from multiple institutions before the final decision must be made.
The information on the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid, like work-study and federal student loans, as well as aid from the state and the college itself. These include grants and scholarships that do not need to be repaid.
Iowa Student Loan®, a nonprofit that helps families pay for college, encourages all students to complete the FAFSA even if they don’t feel they qualify for financial aid. Nearly all students are eligible for some federal student loans, and the college may require the FAFSA to be submitted before awarding scholarships or other aid, whether or not it has an income requirement.
Each student and a parent or guardian (for dependent students) will each need to have their 2019 taxes, income and other financial information readily available. Before starting, the student and parent or guardian should also locate or create their Federal Student Aid log in information, or an FSA ID.
The FAFSA may be filed online at fafsa.gov. Once you have started the form, you will likely be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically fill 2019 income tax information. The student and the parent or guardian will each have their own FSA ID and complete their own set of questions. In the case of divorced parents, the parent with whom the student lives most of the year should complete the FAFSA.
You will be able to direct the FAFSA be sent to your college. If you will be a freshman in 2021–2022, you can send your FAFSA to multiple institutions. Each college will then use the results to determine financial need, or how much of a gap you have between the cost of attendance and your available savings and earnings.
If you need help with the FAFSA, contact your college’s financial aid office or set up an appointment at no cost with ICAN at www.ICANsucceed.org.
Filling out the FAFSA is just one of the many steps to the college planning process. Iowa Student Loan offers a free twice-monthly email service to parents designed to provide timely tips appropriate for your student’s grade level. To receive additional planning information and resources, parents can sign up at www.SP3.org. Registered parents also have the opportunity to enter into quarterly drawings for a contribution to a 529 college savings account.