Before You Relax, Reapply

Don’t forget that you must reapply for federal financial aid each year. You can complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at Federal Student Aid for the 2015-16 academic year anytime after January 1, 2015. If you are a returning student, you can opt to pre-fill the application with the basic information you supplied last year, but you will need your PIN to begin the process. (Forgot your PIN? Go to and click “Request a Duplicate PIN.”)

If you (or your parents) are ready to file your 2014 federal income tax return, it’s a good idea to complete it first before filling out the FAFSA. If not, you can submit your FAFSA using estimated tax information, then correct the information after your tax return is filed. Keep in mind that many state financial aid programs use FAFSA data to determine need. Some may have early application deadlines or award funds on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to check with your state’s program website or office and file as soon as possible.

Be aware that if your family’s financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid than you received last year. Your eligibility may be affected by factors such as a change in the number of family members in college, in-state residency or parental marital status. Renewal of your financial aid package is also dependent your satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of course credits and achieving a minimum GPA. Be sure to check your school’s policy in this regard.

Never applied for financial aid before or don’t think you qualify? Apply anyway. Some families mistakenly think they don’t quality for aid and miss out on grant and loan opportunities. There are a few sources of loan aid—such as the unsubsidized Direct and PLUS loans—that are available regardless of need, but you must file a FAFSA to qualify. It’s also a good idea to apply for aid again if you applied your first year and didn’t qualify—things change from year to year.

Give yourself and your family a little New Year’s peace of mind by getting your financial aid applications in early. After all, your college education is a gift that keeps on giving. Before Your Relax, Reapply for Financial Aid

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