The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, will begin on January 1, 2014 at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. Make sure you allot time for filing your FAFSA. Many schools have first-come first-served policies in place for their limited pools of aid, and filing your FAFSA as soon as possible will ensure you receive the aid you are eligible for. The application is relevant to all seniors in high school and college students. Don't forget that you have to fill-out the application every year. For a step-by-step guide, visit http://www.fafsaonline.com. Below are some tips which can help you qualify for more financial aid when you complete the FAFSA (http://www.fafsaonline.com/financial-aid-secrets.php)

Reduce Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): AGI is the amount of money you make per year, after standard adjustments. The goal is to reduce your adjusted gross income by making contributions to retirement plans, consolidating federal student loans, using health savings accounts, and more - http://www.fafsaonline.com/s1-reduce-income.php.

Apply As Early As Possible: There is a limited pool of financial aid in the form of college scholarships and grants made available each year. The sooner you file your FAFSA, the more likely you are to receive money from this pool as this money is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

FAFSA Eligibility

  • demonstrate financial need (for most programs);
  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen (A U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island), U.S. permanent resident (who has an I-151, I-551 or I-551C Resident Card), or an individual who has an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one designation(s));
  • have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
  • be registered with Selective Service, if you're a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program;
  • be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds;
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school;
  • sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM) stating that
  • you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
  • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
  • show you're qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
  • having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.
  • Most types of financial aid require the student to be enrolled full-time (at least 12 hours per semester).
  • Institutional funds are not awarded to students with less than a 2.0 high school or transfer GPA.
  • One-half of the total financial aid amount is awarded each semester.
  • To continue to receive aid, the student must make satisfactory progress toward a degree.

7 Things You Need Before You Fill-out the FAFSA

  1. Your Federal Student Aid PIN* - In order to sign your FAFSA electronically, you'll need a Federal Student Aid PIN. You can help to prevent processing delays by getting a PIN before you begin the FAFSA. Find out how to get a PIN and what to do if you forgot your PIN. It only takes a minute.
  2. Your social security number* - If you don't know it, it can be found on your social security card. If you don't have access to that, it may be on your birth certificate or permanent resident card. If you don't have one of those, or don't know where it is, ask your parent or legal guardian. If you're a dependent student, you'll need their help with portions of the FAFSA anyway. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you'll also need your Alien Registration Number.
  3. Your driver's license number - If you don't have a driver's license, then don't worry about this step.
  4. Your tax records* - Use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying: so if you are filling out the 2014-15 FAFSA, you will need 2013 tax information. If you haven't filed your taxes yet, you can always estimate the amounts using your 2012 tax return, just make sure to update your FAFSA once you file your 2013 taxes. If you have filed your taxes already, you may be able to automatically import your tax information into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  5. Records of your untaxed income* - This includes a whole bunch of variables that may or may not apply to you, like child support received, interest income and veterans non-education benefits.
  6. Records of all your assets (money)* - This includes savings and checking account balances, as well as investments like stocks and bonds and real estate.
  7. List of the school(s) you are interested in attending - The schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive. You can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA. If you're applying to more than 10 schools, you can add more later. Be sure to list any school you're considering, even if you're not sure yet.

7 Steps to filling-out the FAFSA

To begin the process of obtaining financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form can be filled out online. Online application requires a PIN for both you and a parent.

  1. Apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at www.pin.ed.gov. Your PIN can be used each year to electronically apply for federal student aid and to access your Federal Student Aid records online. You must not share your PIN with anyone. Your PIN serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records. Your parent may also apply for a PIN. Be sure to keep your PIN in a secure place.
  2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. To receive student financial aid, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every school year. FAFSA on the Web allows you to complete and submit your financial aid application electronically. If you are a dependent student, you and your parent's (guardian) will need to sign your application.
  3. What happens after I complete the FAFSA? If you provided an e-mail address on your FAFSA, you should receive your, Student Aid Report (SAR), in 3 to 5 business days. The e-mail should contain a secure link allowing you to access your SAR online. If you do not provide an e-mail address, you should receive a paper SAR by mail 7 to 10 business days after your FAFSA has been processed (please thoroughly read your SAR).
  4. If selected for Verification You will need to submit documents to your financial aid office.
  5. Additional Requirements - If additional documents are required to complete your financial aid file, the financial aid staff at a specific school will notify you via your college e-mail account. All documents accepted by the Financial Aid Office must be signed and completed and have a signature.
  6. Processing Time - If the college has all required documents to complete your file, you will be awarded financial aid based on your eligibility.
  7. Review award online at the college financial assistance website. The Financial Aid Office will send an Electronic Financial Aid Notification (EFAN) to your student e-mail address to notify you when you have been awarded.