Parents who expect to apply for financial aid for their college students next year should get ready to do their tax returns, since financial aid applications require much of the same information.
If you file an aid application early in 1997 for a student going to college next fall, you’ll have to report your income for 1996 and account for your assets as of the date you sign the form. Many colleges double check information in aid applications by requiring copies of parents’ tax returns, even if the returns are not filed until later.
You don’t want discrepancies.
The key aid form is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be submitted as early as Jan. 1.
You can get the FAFSA form from the high school guidance office or college aid office. Or you can obtain an electronic version called FAFSA Express and file the form on-line.
The Department of Education may be able to process your FAFSA Express in a couple of weeks, while a mailed form may take a month or more. The earlier the results get to the college, the better your chances of receiving aid.
The FAFSA Express software for the 1997-1998 school year is available by calling (800)801-0576, or download it from: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/ express.html
Once you’re connected, use the links to some of the other Education Department sites. There’s a good guide to the federal aid system and sources for information about other aid programs.
Incidentally, to receive federal aid, men 18 or older must be registered for the draft.