BOSTON, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Families who think it's too early to submit the Federal Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) for next fall - or those who think waiting until the final deadline is safe: Think again. Completing the FAFSA is only the first step in applying for valuable federal student aid such as grants, work-study and loans, as well as most state and some private aid awards. By filing the FAFSA early, college-bound students essentially secure their place in line for financial aid.
College financing experts at SimpleTuition, Inc., which runs SimpleTuition.com, the premier destination for personalized student loan research and comparison, and TuitionCoach.com, the leading website for personalized college financial guidance, advise families to start thinking about the FAFSA long before its time to file. And for those planning to go to college in 2010, the time to file is now.
"Families often have a number of misconceptions about the FAFSA that can be very costly," said Monisha Perkash, general manager of SimpleTuition's TuitionCoach. "With tuition costs on the rise, and available aid on the decline, it's more important than ever before to prepare for and file the FAFSA as early as possible to maximize opportunities to receive student financial aid."
Experts from SimpleTuition and TuitionCoach offer the following advice:
The early bird gets the worm. Families of high school sophomores and juniors should plan for the FAFSA now - even if they aren't filing this year. Earlier planning and an understanding of the financial aid system can make a significant difference in lowering your college costs. If you are filing this year, its time to file now.
Don't wait to file taxes first. File the FAFSA as soon as possible and make corrections as needed after filing (although there are deadlines to be aware of). Provide best guess answers and submit the FAFSA ASAP to secure your place in line.
Be realistic. Reflect significant changes in family circumstances, such as unemployment and/or divorce. Having the less affluent parent claim the student for taxes can increase the student's eligibility for aid.
Double up. For families with several college-bound students who are close in age, consider having more than one student attend college at a time. Multiple tuition bills will significantly lower the expected family contribution, and potentially offset the cost of taking a year or two off - IF the student puts the time to good use. Most colleges value meaningful post-high school experience when making admission decisions.
For additional information about preparing for and filing the FAFSA, TuitionCoach is hosting a series of free informational Webinars throughout the month of January. Dates and times are available at http://www.tuitioncoach.com/collegecost/freewebinar.jsf. In addition, resources at TuitionCoach.com are designed to guide families step-by-step through the college financial aid process, offering: expert tips for completing financial aid applications; guidance to maximize financial aid eligibility; a personalized assessment of a student's financial aid award; analysis of college funding options; and email consultation.
About SimpleTuition, Inc.
SimpleTuition is committed to helping students and parents figure out how to make college affordable. Through SimpleTuition.com, the premier destination for personalized student loan research and comparison, and TuitionCoach.com, the leading website for personalized college financial guidance, the company has helped millions of college-bound students and their families research and better understand the complicated world of college finance, from completing the FAFSA to finding the right student loans. Named Best Financial Services Site by Kiplinger's, SimpleTuition, Inc. is headquartered in Boston, Mass., and is funded by Atlas Venture, Flybridge Capital Partners, and North Hill Ventures.
SOURCE SimpleTuition, Inc.