Education Planning10 Things You Should Know About Applying for Financial Aid

Financial aid is complicated, but here’s what you need to know to set your family up for success.

 

Last year, 44% of families didn’t apply for financial aid because they thought they wouldn’t qualify for any, and 34% found it too complicated or missed the deadline.1 Avoid missing out on potential funds with these 10 important points:

  1. What is the FAFSA? – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that both prospective and current college students complete each year so their college (or prospective colleges) and state of residence can determine how much aid they’re eligible for.
  2. Where should I start? – You can apply online at fafsa.gov or by mailing in an application; in some cases, your college may apply for you. You’ll need your Social Security number or Alien Registration number (if you aren’t a US citizen), your and your child’s federal income tax returns, W-2s, bank records, statements of investments, and records of untaxed income. Both parent and student will also be asked to create an FSA ID.
  3. Fill out your FAFSA early – Filing season begins each year in October and closes at the end of June. Even if your student is undecided, apply ASAP because when you apply can make a big difference in the amount of aid offered. Some financial aid is limited and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. While you’re likely to still be offered aid, waiting longer may result in being offered fewer grants (that don’t need to be repaid) and more loans (that do need to be repaid).
  4. Know your aid – Students may be eligible for two kinds of aid—need- and merit-based. Need-based aid is calculated by the FAFSA and your family’s ability to pay for college; it’s typically represented as federal student loans, federal grants, and on-campus work-study programs. Merit-based aid is usually a scholarship awarded by a college or private institution for outstanding academic or athletic abilities.
  5. Financial aid can coexist with a 529 plan – While 529 plans are considered an asset under the federal aid formula, their impact on eligibility is less than you may think. Plans owned by parents or students could potentially impact aid up to 5.64%,2 a small sacrifice when you consider all the other benefits.
  6. How family can impact aid – In divorced families, your student’s FAFSA is based solely on the income of the parent the student lives with the majority of the time: the custodial parent. If the custodial parent has remarried, their spouse’s income is also factored into the FAFSA, even if the spouse has no intention of contributing to the child’s college costs.
  7. Timing and arrival of aid – If you fill out the FAFSA as soon as filing opens, you should begin receiving financial-aid award letters in the following months (think winter and early spring) from each university where your student has been accepted. These letters will detail what you’re being offered and allow you to be more informed before your student makes any decisions.
  8. Appealing an unappealing offer – Appealing a financial aid offer isn’t bartering for a better offer because you didn’t get as much as you felt you should. Rather, it’s an opportunity for families with legitimate financial reasons (e.g., job loss, divorce, natural disasters, death of a parent, etc.) to request a second look, called “professional judgment.” Don’t overlook this option if extenuating circumstances have impacted your finances.
  9. Sticker shock – Just as you shouldn’t assume that you won’t be awarded any aid, don’t assume that a dream (albeit pricey) school is out of reach. Private universities and pricier colleges may be more generous with the amount of aid offered. Wait to receive your financial-aid award letters before making any final decisions.
  10. College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile – There’s one additional form you may need to fill out. The CSS Profile is provided by The College Board, is mostly required by private universities, and gives students access to nonfederal scholarships and other institutional aid. The form is available in early October, deadlines vary by school, and students should expect a fee for each school that they’ll be sending the CSS Profile to.

FAFSA Mistakes to Avoid

Potential Mistake Why It Matters
Not filling out the FAFSA at all Some people don’t fill out the FAFSA because they don’t think they’ll get any aid. Not filling it out ensures you won’t be offered any.
Not preparing ahead of time by creating a FSA ID

 

Your FSA ID will be linked to your FAFSA application and serves as your login and electronic signature. Having this ready to go avoids any delays in the process.
Not using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

 

This is the easiest way to accurately report your tax return info to your college, and it may eliminate the need to provide additional info.
Not listing all your potential schools on your application

 

Students often list the schools they’ve applied to but skip the ones they’re still considering. List all of them, but make sure you know your state’s requirements for how you list them.
Waiting too long to file

 

You’re still likely to receive aid, but since the FAFSA works on a first-come, first-served basis, you might be offered less aid (or offered more loans that you’ll have to repay instead of grants).
Missing deadlines

 

Deadlines can sometimes be appealed, but it’s better to stay organized and get in ahead of the pack rather than potentially missing out altogether.
Not being thorough or being inaccurate

 

Missing sections of the FAFSA or making mistakes might mean delays in processing—and less money for your child.
Missing important communications

 

FAFSA or your school may reach out because they need important or additional info. Keep an eye on incoming mail and email inboxes throughout the process.
Not exploring other scholarship opportunities

 

Not exploring or applying for scholarships is like turning down free money. Don’t assume you won’t be selected and do research ones that are applicable to you.

  1. Sallie Mae, “How America Pays for College 2021,” July 2021
  2. Forbes, “Grandparent 529 Plans Get A Boost From New FAFSA Form,” 10/29/21

Investment returns are not guaranteed, and you could lose money by investing in a 529 plan.

All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide investment, tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of an investment, tax, or legal nature, you and your clients should consult with a qualified tax or legal professional regarding your or your client’s specific legal or tax situation, as applicable. The preceding is not intended to be a recommendation or advice.

This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. This material and/or its contents are current at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice.

Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC, Member FINRA.

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Client Services Associate

As director of First Impressions, I strive to make sure our clients have a comfortable and meaningful experience while providing remarkable customer service at the highest standards. I enjoy going to local Everett events and festivities while spending time with friends and family. I love to read, especially dystopian novels.  I am involved in volunteering opportunities within the community including grocery shopping for homebound people, coffee trailer and first responder appreciation.

Education and Biography

Training

Holly Studied Business and Management at Sno-Isle Business and Management & Everett Community College. She has over 20 years of customer service and administrative experience.

Specialisms

Holly’s focus is to create meaningful connections between our clients and our office. She schedules appointments, answers calls, processes transactions, preparing paperwork to maintain accounts as well as opening new accounts, and transfers.

Albert Ballesteros

With over 25 years of customer service working in the Financial Industry and the State of Washington, Albert is a welcome addition to the service team. He helps with opening new accounts and servicing current accounts. You have probably received appointment reminders from him. He also works with the marketing team in planning monthly letters to clients, planning special events and creating the weekly newsletters.
In his spare time, he volunteers at Northshore Christian Church, having completed two mission trips to the Philippines and has a passion for singing. He enjoys playing and watching most sports but is especially an avid fan of the Everett Silvertips.

Education and Biography

TRAINING

Albert attended Honolulu Community College where he obtained his AA in Liberal Arts.

SPECIALISMS

Albert joined Bailey Wealth Services in 2022. His focus is to provide support to both prospective and existing customers with exceptional customer service. He is very personable and brings professionalism to his role.

Wes Burroughs

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is educating clients on what is available to them as an investor. Our clients know where they’re at financially and where they are going because we make breaking down the complexities of a constantly changing world a top priority. Outside of work, I love spending time with my wife, Blyn, and playing with our daughter, Sophia. I also enjoy running and hosting game night with friends.

Education and Biography

TRAINING
Wes attended Liberty University where he obtained his BA in Philosophy.

SPECIALISMS
Wes joined Bailey Wealth Services in 2021. His focus is helping families maintain and grow the wealth they already have. Wes enjoys working with our valued clients to facilitate financial relationships by providing solutions, solving problems, and helping them manage their financial lives.

A. Sean Bailey, CFP®

My mission is to assist families as they strive to acquire, accumulate and retain wealth in a tax efficient manner so they may live in retirement with confidence and dignity. When I’m not engaged in professional activities, you can find me on a mountain top with my wife, Kim, and our two children, Eleanor and Oscar.

Education and Biography

TRAINING
Sean received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Finance Concentration, from the University of Washington.

SPECIALISMS
Sean Bailey has been in the financial services industry for 30 years. He specializes in developing comprehensive financial, estate and retirement planning strategies for clients nearing and in retirement. Sean is a Registered Principal and Investment Advisor with LPL Financial. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner. Sean is also a member of the Financial Planning Association and Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group.

Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group is not affiliated with Bailey Wealth Services or LPL Financial.

Sonya Jones

I endeavor to provide excellent service to our clients and organizing processes and procedures to ensure our office runs smoothly. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, Erik, and our two boys, Lukas and Archer along with our dog Pixie. I love cooking for them and experimenting with different recipes and techniques, including treats for Pixie. Our favorite family activity is taking road trips, especially to California to visit family and friends.

Education and Biography

TRAINING

 

Sonya received her BA in Art at California State University, Chico and has over 25 years of administrative and customer service experience in the financial services and accounting industries.

 

SPECIALISMS

 

Sonya’s focus is to help clients reach their financial goals by assisting them with their various transactions and paperwork to service and maintain their accounts. This includes opening new accounts and initiating transfers from and to financial institutions. Sonya is constantly looking for new ways to improve our processes to ensure we work efficiently and in a manner that creatives positive experiences for our clients.

Sonya Jones

I endeavor to provide excellent service to our clients and organizing processes and procedures to ensure our office runs smoothly. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, Erik, and our two boys, Lukas and Archer along with our dog Pixie. I love cooking for them and experimenting with different recipes and techniques, including treats for Pixie. Our favorite family activity is taking road trips, especially to California to visit family and friends.

Education and Biography

TRAINING
Sonya received her BA in Art at California State University, Chico and has over 25 years of administrative and customer service experience in the financial services and accounting industries.

SPECIALISMS
Sonya’s focus is to help clients reach their financial goals by assisting them with their various transactions and paperwork to service and maintain their accounts. This includes opening new accounts and initiating transfers from and to financial institutions. Sonya is constantly looking for new ways to improve our processes to ensure we work efficiently and in a manner that creatives positive experiences for our clients.