|How do I apply for financial aid?|
You should start by filling out the federal government's aid application, the FAFSA. This application is used by both the federal government and colleges when federal money is being dispersed.
The best way to fill out and submit the FAFSA is online at the Department of Education's website at www.fafsa.ed.gov. In order to do so, you and your child will first need to obtain an FSA ID, which you can also do online.
The FAFSA relies on income information from two years prior (for example, the 2018/2019 FAFSA relies on your 2016 income tax return) and current asset information. The FAFSA has the ability to directly import your tax information using the IRS Retrieval Tool, which is built into the form. However, you will also have to answer additional questions. The FAFSA can be filed as early as October 1st in the year prior to the year your child will be attending school.
Regarding college financial aid, colleges generally require both the FAFSA and the PROFILE form (or their own aid form in place of the PROFILE). The PROFILE can also be filled out and submitted online. Make sure to find out which application your child's college requires and make a note of all filing deadlines. Deadlines can vary depending on whether your child is a new student or a returning student and whether your child is applying early decision/early action or regular decision.