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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

The Importance of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and Tips on How to Apply

December 31, 2019

The Importance of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and Tips on How to ApplyA quality education is an investment, but it can be expensive. That is why the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is an important resource for students who need financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA® to determine eligibility for federal student aid, including loans and grants, and are generally more preferred over private loans.

Anyone who plans to attend college should consider submitting the FAFSA®. If you need money for college, the FAFSA® provides resources for finding reliable student aid. For some, however, filing the FAFSA® can be a source of anxiety. With more than 100 questions, bureaucratic language, and a new FSA ID policy, the FAFSA® seems more like an exam than an actual financial aid application. How do we know? We’ve been there. For years, SJVC has helped students from colleges throughout the community find financial assistance and submit the FAFSA® application.

What students may not know is that a large portion of financial aid in the United States is distributed on a rolling basis, meaning the sooner you apply, the better your chances of receiving generous aid. However, it is not too late to fill out the FAFSA® application.

Eulalia Romero, Financial Service Advisor at the SJVC Delano campus, is always happy to help students with advice on some of the best practices for securing financial aid. First, anyone filling out his or her FAFSA® will need the following information:

  • Social Security Number for the student
  • Student and/or parent Permanent Resident Card
  • Parent information, full name, Social Security, and if married, the date of marriage
  • Tax Return 2017 & 2018 or any W2 for the student if they had income
  • Parent tax return 2017 & 2018 or W2 if they did not file taxes
  • Current business, real estate, and investment information (if applicable)
  • Records of child support paid/received (if applicable)
  • FSA ID login (if you have one) for student and parent

It’s also important to avoid some common errors when filling out the application. Entering the wrong address, leaving blank fields, failing to use your legal name, and excluding your income tax returns are all mistakes that can delay your application and/or limit the amount of aid you are eligible to receive. To avoid errors, carefully read all of the questions on the FAFSA® and don’t be afraid to ask questions. A professional Financial Service Advisor such as Eulalia has successfully helped many students receive the aid they need to begin their education and start their career.

When students do not apply for FAFSA®, many revert to private student loans, which often have high interest rates and lack the consumer protections that federal student loans include. The Institute for College Access and Success reports that 47 percent of private loan borrowers could have used more affordable federal loans. By completing the FAFSA® form, students can make sure that they are taking advantage of the best student loan options.