FAFSA dos and don’ts: what you need to know

Oct. 1 approaching means it’s almost time to fill out the 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)!

fafsa imageBlack Hawk College Financial Aid is hosting a webinar to help you learn what you will need to complete FAFSA on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Read on for five things to help you as you navigate the FAFSA process.

1. Get help at Black Hawk College. Contact Financial Aid staff at 309-796-5400 or finaid@bhc.edu to get help. For the 2020 semester, Financial Aid Office staff at the Quad-Cities Campus are available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in-person. Students wishing to meet with a specific advisor on campus are encouraged to contact the office in advance to confirm availability.

2. Don’t skip it. Even if you do not believe you will qualify for grant assistance, you are still strongly encouraged to apply to confirm your eligibility. Many scholarships require a FAFSA to be completed as a part of their application process as well, so there is a benefit to filling it out regardless of whether or not you quality for grant assistance.

3. Apply early. Submitting as early as possible is a great idea because some financial aid programs have limited funding and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Every year the application becomes available on Oct. 1. Once you have applied, expect to learn more in the spring. The first financial aid email notifications will be sent in April 2021.

4. Get prepared before you start the process. Get your documents together in advance so you are ready to complete FAFSA. The items you need to collect for FAFSA are:

  • Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID (an electronic signature you obtain in advance at https://fsaid.ed.gov)*
  • Social Security Card/Permanent Resident Card
  • 2019 federal tax documents, including tax return and W-2/1099 forms
  • 2019 child support received or paid
  • Records of 2019 untaxed income
  • Current bank statements (savings/checking)
  • Records of assets and investments (excludes retirement)

*Please keep in mind new students and parents will need to obtain their Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs two to three days before starting their FAFSA application. You only get one FSA ID per person that you will use every year. Each person should set up their own FSA ID. It is the equivalent of a legal signature, so do not share it with others.

5. Utilize other resources if needed. The Financial Aid Office encourages students and parents to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to electronically transfer their 2019 tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA application. A tutorial can help you through it. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) Student Portal offers tips and online chat, which can be found on the main page of the ISAC Student Portal website. ISAC also has ISACorps, a group of recent college graduates dedicated to helping students and their families navigate the process of applying to and entering college. Find your local ISACorps representative.

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