Applying for financial aid is the ONLY WAY (other than ROTC or Military programs) to obtain federal, state, or institutional help to offset college costs.
There are several different forms that students and parents/guardians will have to complete:
GET AN FSAID (www.fsaid.ed.gov) and then FILE THE FAFSA (WWW.FAFSA.GOV)
FSA ID: Federal Student Aid ID. This is a username and password that each student and one parent/legal guardian needs in order to file the FAFSA. The FSA ID has replaced the “PIN” that used to be required to file the FAFSA. Each student and one parent needs an FSA ID in order to file the FAFSA. If parents are divorced, the parent with whom the student resides most of the time (51% or more) should obtain an FSA ID.
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Filing the FAFSA is THE ONLY WAY to qualify for state or federal aid. This is a FREE process which begins on October 1, 2016.
OBTAIN AN FSA ID at www.fsaid.ed.gov. The FSA ID is a new way of accessing and signing in to all of the Federal Student Aid websites, including the FAFSA. Each student and 1 parent will need an email address, and THEY MUST BE DIFFERENT. One family cannot use the same email address. Use the enclosed form to record your information, and put it somewhere safe so when you go to file the FAFSA in October, your FSA ID will already be established. It takes about 15 minutes to submit a request for an FSA ID, and it can take up to 48 hours for it to process. You will need correct dates of birth, social security numbers, and email addresses for student and 1 parent. Please see the attached form for more information and/or go to www.fsaid.ed.gov.
The FAFSA will be available beginning on October 1, 2016 at www.fafsa.gov. The sooner you apply for financial aid, the better. Ideally, we recommend that all students who are even thinking about attending college to file the FAFSA this fall. Filing the FAFSA usually takes between 30-45 minutes and should be done with student and parent together.
The FAFSA will request tax return information from 2015. Most families have the option of electronically transferring the information from the IRS to the FAFSA return. This option will automatically appear as you work through the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.
FAFSA HELP SESSIONS: There are many ways of obtaining help with the FAFSA. Students and parents guardians can:
- Contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734. They can assist with any specific questions you may have. FAME also provides financial aid how-to videos on their website if you missed an info session or would like to watch a video instead of placing a call. Videos are short, informative, and can be found at http://www.famemaine.com/education/quick-links/informational-videos/
- Many families can file the FAFSA without any extra help. There are a lot of assistance options available on the FAFSA website, including a live chat with FAFSA experts, definitions, and other help-related options.
FOLLOW UP: It is VERY IMPORTANT that students read all mail from colleges and check all of their accounts to make sure their applications are complete and to watch for other college-specific Financial Aid forms and deadlines. Many colleges require students to complete extra forms, so it is crucial for students to be actively checking their application status and to track any/all deadlines. Once they file the FAFSA in the fall, they must be certain to add any new colleges on to their FAFSA, so all colleges to which a student applies for admission also receive the FAFSA.
SOME COLLEGES, SUCH AS COLBY, BATES, BOWDOIN, WELLESLEY, AND OTHER PRIVATE COLLEGES WILL REQUIRE A FORM CALLED THE CSS PROFILE.
The CSS Profile is a separate form required by some private colleges. Please check to see if you need to submit the CSS Profile before you start this process. It is NOT required at Maine Community Colleges, the UMaine system, and other colleges. Check the college’s financial aid website to see if you need to submit this form or not. If you do, please know it is available as of October 1 and can be found at this link: CSS Profile
Be certain to check for any other college-specific financial aid requirements by reviewing their websites for forms and deadlines!
It is very, very important to check each college’s financial aid webpage to be certain of forms and deadlines. Some will only require the FAFSA; others may require additional forms. Remember, you can always call the Financial Aid Office to ask questions or to seek assistance. Their mission is to provide financial aid information and service to students and their families!