Happy October! Although some people celebrate this month as the start of fall, pumpkin spice season, or the only month eating candy corn for breakfast is appropriate, those here at College Apps Academy know October is Financial Aid Month! Afterall, October 1 is the day that the financial aid applications, the FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the California Dream Act Application open up. It is important to fill these applications out early, as colleges often give out financial aid on a first come, first serve basis.
To start, the first thing you need to do is determine whether you will complete the FAFSA or the California Dream Act Application. It is important to note that you will complete one or the other, never both! The FAFSA is the application for federal student aid like Pell Grants and federal student loans. You are eligible to complete the FAFSA if you are a US citizen, permanent resident, eligible non-citizen or a T-Visa Holder. The California Dream Act Application (CaDAA) is an application for private scholarships, university grants and California state aid like the Cal Grant. You are eligible for the CaDAA if you are undocumented, have a valid or expired Visa, have Temporary Protective Status (TPS), be a U Visa holder or meet the non-resident exemption requirementes under AB 540.
Still confused? Click here for FAQs about the Dream Act Application or here for FAQs about the FAFSA.
Now that you know whether you will be completing the FAFSA or the Dream Act Application, there are some items you need to gather to prepare for the application.
- A list of schools you are planning to apply to; On the Dream Act Application and the FAFSA, you will have to identify which schools you would like your financial aid application to be sent to. Have that list ready before you begin applying!
- Your 2018 tax records and the tax records of your parent(s)/guardian(s): The financial aid applications for the 2020-2021 school year requires tax information.
- Records of any untaxed income earned by family or any assets the family has: the questions about untaxed income and assets may or may not apply to you but they are important to think about. Untaxed income includes things like child support received, interest income and veteran’s benefits. Assets include checking and savings account balances and the value of investments like stocks and bonds and real estate (excluding the home your family lives in).
- Your driver’s license number if you have one (if you don’t – no worries, just skip this step).
- FOR FAFSA ONLY – you will need an FSA ID (this is basically just a fancy name for username) and a password. You can create this at fsaid.ed.gov. Your parent or guardian will also need to create this if they are a US citizen. If they are not, they will not need an FSA ID. In order to create an FSA ID (remember, it’s just your FAFSA username) you will need your social security number. Please make sure you type it in accurately and record your FSA ID and password so you don’t forget it!
Once you gather these items, you are ready to rock and roll! While filling out your financial aid application, remember to read all the directions, take your time and ask questions if you get stuck!