What students need to about the FAFSA during the pandemic

Saturday, May 30, 2020

If you have a college-bound teen or current college student, you probably already know filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the best ways to apply for scholarships and grants to help cash flow that degree. And letís be real, the FAFSA is already confusing enough on its own, so having to think about COVID-19 on top of that just adds to the stress.

But donít worry. Weíre about to break down what you and your kids need to know about the FAFSA this year:

What to Know About FAFSA Deadlines

The FAFSA form has three deadlines: federal, state and school. Hereís the lowdown on each one.

ē Federal: To get financial aid for the 2019Ė2020 school year, the federal deadline is June 30, 2020. For the 2020Ė2021 school year, itís June 30, 2021.

ē State: For some financial aid, like in-state scholarships and grants, deadlines vary by state. Certain states may be pushing back their deadlines, so check www.fafsa.gov to see how your state is handling it.

ē School: The schools your kids are going to, or applying for, usually have earlier FAFSA deadlines than the federal deadline. But just like the state deadlines, each school might be responding differently to the coronavirus and changing their deadlines as a result.

Bottom line is this: your kids should check with their schoolís financial aid office and state guidelines to make sure they have their FAFSA forms turned in on time. And even if your kids have already missed the school and state deadlines, thereís still time to make the federal one!

What to Know About FAFSA When Schools Are Closed

If the college or colleges on your kidís list are currently closed, donít stress. The U.S. Department of Educationís Central Processing System will still process your FAFSA info and send it to all the schools you list on the form. That way, your kids will still be able to get financial aid when schools do reopen. You can also check with each individual school to make sure theyíre still processing FAFSA forms, and to learn more about their plans for reopening.

What to Know About FAFSA When Your Income Changes

If you or your kids have lost work during this crazy time or your income has dropped a ton, know that youíre not alone. There are plans in place to help with those situations, and your child might be able to have their financial aid adjusted. Make sure you and your child both answer all the questions on the FAFSA form about income, and include any tax documents they ask for. Be sure to reach out to the schools your child is applying to after youíve submitted the form, so you can talk through any changes in your finances.

Remember, your kids can get scholarships, grants and student loans by filling out the FAFSA. Scholarships and grants are great, but student loans can seriously hurt their future. Be sure they carefully read the fine print in their award letters before signing any kind of agreement. Paying cash for college isnít easy, especially right now, but it can be done with the help of work study programs, scholarships, and other financial aid you can get through the FAFSA. Donít take out student loans!

If you and your kids need more tips on filling out the FAFSA and graduating debt-free, Iíve got you covered with some free resources at www.anthonyoneal.com/resources/

About Anthony ONeal

Since 2003, Anthony has helped hundreds of thousands of people make smart decisions with their money, relationships, and education. Heís a #1 national bestselling author of Debt-Free Degree and national bestselling author of The Graduate Survival Guide. He recently released Destroy Your Student Loan Debt. He travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults start their lives off right and people of all ages succeed with money. You can follow Anthony on YouTube and Instagram @AnthonyONeal and online at anthonyoneal.com or facebook.com/aoneal.