Beginning this year, the financial aid calendar has changed. Students and families are able to file their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in October using 2015 tax forms. This is very helpful because families can use the actual income amounts reported to the IRS on their 2015 taxes. In the past, families would have had to estimate their 2016 taxes in January and then go back in and make corrections. It is especially helpful, if you can link your FAFSA and your tax forms using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This option comes up on the FAFSA form. If you can use it, it allows you to verify the accuracy of your FAFSA so that you are less likely to have to produce copies of your tax forms or a tax transcript to prove that you are telling the truth. If seniors have not yet completed the FAFSA, please do it soon, certainly before the end of January. Also, check the Financial Aid pages of the colleges to which you applied. Many require extra documentation. Some (mostly private) colleges require the CSS Profile and perhaps even a third financial aid form. READ YOUR EMAIL. Colleges will send reminders if you are missing something. If you miss a deadline, you will not get the money you deserve.
Kathy Garrett has been a school counselor for over 30 years, and a college counselor for well over a decade.