Free money? Maybe if you fill out FAFSA

By Lydia Hansen

Managing Editor

Lydia.Hansen1961@mb.rctc.edu

RCTC encourages students who know they’ll be attending RCTC during the 2017-2018 school year to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

This will be used to determine how much financial aid students are eligible for to help cover the costs of tuition, books, transportation, and other school-related expenses.

The priority deadline for submission is April 15, and while FAFSA reports received after this date are still accepted, those who file earlier will receive the earliest disbursement of any financial aid funds they choose to accept.

Depending on the income status indicated by the FAFSA, students could be eligible for several different forms of financial aid such as federal loans, work-study awards, and state and federal grants.

For those not planning on taking out loans or doing work-study in the coming school year, filing the FAFSA is still a potentially valuable step. Grants are a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be paid back, so there’s no reason not to file the FAFSA and give yourself the opportunity for free aid.

In addition, FAFSA information is commonly used when applying for scholarships, so even if you feel you won’t need the help, filing the FAFSA is a financially wise decision and certainly can’t do you any harm.

If the deadline of April 15 sounds a little close, don’t fret. If you’ve put off filing your FAFSA because it sounds too much like filing your taxes (which you’ve also put off), think again.

This year, you can file your FAFSA easier than ever before, without waiting to finish your taxes first. For the first time ever, the FAFSA can be compiled using your 2015 tax information.

To file your FAFSA, go to fafsa.gov and login with your FSA ID and password—new users must create one. Then simply use the Data Retrieval Tool to pull 2015 tax information from the IRS into your 2017-2018 FAFSA. It’s faster and easier than ever before.

So what are you waiting for? Get that FAFSA filed — if you don’t, you could be throwing away your best chance at free money.

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