Nine Easy Tips to Remember When You Fill Out Your FAFSA

FAFSA letters on top of a textbook with a piggy bank next to itDid you know that you can start filling out your FAFSA for the 2017-2018 academic year now?

And CCA is ready to help you and/or your parents fill it out! CCA will host FAFSA Rush again this year on Aug. 3rd and Aug. 10 at our CentreTech campus from 4 to 7 p.m. on each day. During FAFSA Rush, students and their parents can come to our campuses, use our computer labs to fill out the FAFSA, and CCA Financial Aid staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

The U.S. Department of Education has permanently moved the FAFSA application start date to Oct. 1 to give students and their parents more time to plan and pay for college. Students and/or their parents can now fill out the FAFSA using their 2016 tax returns or they can use the tax return for 2017 that they will fill out next year.

But before you start  the FAFSA application process, check out these nine tips from CCA Financial Aid Advisor Darin Wissbaum to make it easy and simple as possible to avoid any problems that could delay processing your application.

  1. Always fill out the FAFSA.

Some students think that they may not qualify for financial aid because their parents earn too much; however, even if that is the case, students should still fill out the FAFSA to see if they can qualify for work-study or scholarships.
“If they don’t do it, they will never know if they can get anything,” Wissbaum said.

  1. Review the FAFSA before you fill it out.

There are about 100 questions on the FAFSA application that will require you or your parents to answer, including questions about income, assets, and property. Take a look it before you fill it out and see what information you will need to answer each question.

  1. Check your dependency status.

There is a series of questions on the FAFSA that will determine if a student is dependent or independent. Students should know their dependency status before they fill out the FAFSA, even if they don’t live with their parents.
“Students think, if they are not living at home with their parents, they are independent but they can be,” Wissbaum said.

  1. Make sure your parents are with you when you fill out the FAFSA application.

There are a number of questions about income, property, assets, and more that some younger students will not know the answers to, so if you are a dependent student sit down with your parents when filling out the FAFSA application.
“Most students who are 18 years of age aren’t going to understand what this information is,” Wissbaum said.


FAFSA Rush letters on top of textbooks.FAFSA Rush 

When:July 31, Aug. 3, and Aug. 10 

Where: CentreTech campus, Classroom Building, Room 214 from 4 to 7 p.m.

There is no need to register.

High school students are encouraged to come to CCA with their parents and fill out the FAFSA application. CCA staff will be available to answer any questions they might have. Current CCA students and anyone interested in attending college are also welcome to attend and fill out their FAFSAs and ask questions.


  1. Save time and create your Federal Student Aid ID first!

To save time for ­first-time applicants, it is recommended that you create your FSA ID (and parent FSA ID for dependent students) before you attend FAFSA Rush or start your FAFSA application.

  1. Have all of your documents or your parents’ documents with you when you fill out the application.

Gather your or your parents’ income tax returns, W-2s, individual retirement account information, Social Security numbers, and more – this information is required. When you are ready to fill out the application, having this information in front of you will make the process much simpler.

  1. CCA staff can help you!

Students and their parents can come by the CCA Financial Aid office (located on the first floor of the Administration Building at the CentreTech campus) and staff can help you during normal business hours. CCA has computer labs that students and parents can use to complete the application. And of course, you and your parents are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA during FAFSA Rush!

  1. Make sure you use all of your correct, legal information.

You should use your legal name given on your Social Security card when completing the FAFSA application; both the information on your social security card and FAFSA need to match. Don’t use nicknames. Many student FAFSA applications are delayed in processing because their names get flagged in the system for being incorrect.

  1. Don’t wait to complete your FAFSA application!

Now that you can fill out the application starting in October, you can get a jumpstart on paying for college, and figuring out where you want to go. Filling out the FAFSA early takes a lot of pressure off of students, and parents and helps colleges too.

So come to FAFSA Rush, stop by the CCA Financial Aid Office, and start the process today!

About the Author

Joe Florkowski is the web content specialist in CCA's Communications Department. He received his B.A. in communications - journalism from California State University, Fullerton in 2002 and his M.S. in leadership and management from the University of LaVerne in 2011. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor in a variety of print and online fields.  

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