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What Is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is money that makes it possible for students to attend colleges they would have otherwise thought to be too expensive. The four categories of financial aid are as follows:

  • Grants- money given to the student, usually because of financial need
  • Scholarships- money awarded based on merit such as exceptional academic, athletic, or artistic talent
  • Work Study- money that you earn by working at a campus job
  • Loans- money that must be repaid and normally with interest 
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the government form students and parents complete to qualify for grants, loans, and work study, along with need b

It is recommended to fill out the FAFSA online. Make sure you start with the correct website www.fafsa.ed.gov and not www.fafsa.com. This form is not available until January 1, 2015.
Before you start make sure you have the following information at hand (parent and student):
  • PIN numbers created by both the parents and the student at www.pin.ed.gov
  • Social Security number
  • 2014 federal and state tax returns (or 2013 if you haven’t filed yet)
  • W-2 forms and/or other records of income earned in 201 (or your last pay stub from 2014 if you
  • haven’t filed yet)
  • Current bank statements and investment records
  • Records of untaxed income received in 2014
  • 2014 business and farm records
  • Alien registration number, if not a U.S. citizen
  • A federal personal identification number (PIN) recommended
There is an IRS data retrieval tool that is available 2-3 weeks after the electronic submission of your taxes – it directly links information from your tax form to your FAFSA, making mistakes less likely and saving you time.
As you are completing the FAFSA pay attention to the sidebar on the left – one says “Student” and one says “Parent” – you will be entering information for both and you want to make sure you are entering it in the
correct place.
You do not have to have applied to your post-secondary institution prior to completing the FAFSA – you are allowed to enter up to 10 institutions.
Pay close attention to the dependency questions.
When you receive your SAR (Student Aid Report) check it very carefully. If you find errors, contact the financial aid office(s) of the schools to which you are applying.
Report special circumstances to the colleges, especially if they occur after you have filed the FAFSA – supply documentation – examples include a change in income, loss of job, death of spouse, etc.
Be aware that you may be randomly selected for verification of information – a failure to respond could lead to a delay in processing of your form.
District Office | 1302 First Avenue West | Newton, Iowa 50208 | Phone: 641.792.5809 | Fax: 641.792.9159