Applying for financial aid is a complicated process closely related to doing your own long-form income tax in complexity. There are many steps along the way and many pieces of information you will need to provide before an evaluation of your application is completed. Since receiving financial aid may mean the difference between whether you can afford to attend school or not, I highly recommend you prepare well in advance. Here are some things you’ll need to gather.
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s License or State Identification
- W-2s and other documentation of any money earned in the most recent year prior to year you are applying for aid in
- Copies of your most recent tax return along with your spouse’s if you were married in the previous year
- Documentation of untaxed income such as payment to tax-deferred pension and savings plans, child support received, untaxed portions of IRA distributions, untaxed portions of pensions, or veteran non-education benefits
- Copies of all bank statements from the most recent preceding year
- Most recent business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond, and other investment records for preceding year.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will have to supply your alien registration number or permanent residence card, also.
If you can be claimed as a minor by your parents, you will have to supply all of this information for both parents as well before application can be evaluated.
You will need to know the federal school code for the school you want to attend. You can find a listing of federal school codes at the Federal Student Aid website.
Be sure to check with your school for the deadlines for applying for student aid. These deadlines change for each semester. Missing a filing date could mean you have to wait another semester or longer before you can apply.
Gather all of this information together and keep in a safe place until you are ready to complete the online registration. You can update the information yearly as you will need to reapply for each semester that you seek financial aid. Keeping the information current and in a location that is easy to find will speed up the process for you.
Once you have gathered this data and entered the information into your application, you can expect to receive a Student Aid Report in approximately 4 weeks. It will either be sent to the email or mailing address you provide in your application.