The Application Process
A Review of 6 Major Application Steps
1) Get a PIN - with this number you can sign their FAFSA on line as well as expedite getting results.
2) Collect all family financial documentation – W2s, and other income records, if the family tax return isn't done – make estimations as close as possible (they can be corrected later).
Go to www.FAFSA.ed.gov and answer all questions to the best of your ability on scratch paper. Then fill in the form. The FAFSA can be submitted no earlier than January 1st (to maximize accuracy of your income figures), but no later than June 30th. Submit it as close to the January 1st date as possible.
3) Use the same documentation to fill out the PROFILE form available through The College Board. More than 600 colleges and universities graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds. Keep track of dates and deadlines. This most definitely includes scholarship deadlines as well; they will probably be very close to the beginning of the calendar year of expected attendance. Students should register for PROFILE aid as soon as they're sure about where they are applying. They should register at least two weeks before the earliest school or scholarship program filing date. For information and application instructions go to College Board.
4) Review the Student Aid Report (SAR) - it should be received within two to four weeks of FAFSA submission. If not, go to the FAFSA site and inquire. Make sure it is accurate. The SAR is the determination of your family's estimated contribution. Remember the basic equation. Cost of Attendance (COA) – Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Aid. Review the SAR if something is incorrect, change it and resubmit.
a) If your family is selected for verification, simply submit all financial documentation to the school(s) that have requested them. It is a rare possibility. In short, don't panic!
5) Make sure the financial aid office at each of the schools you are interested in have all the information to determine eligibility and put together a financial aid package.
6) Carefully compare the financial aid packages offered by the schools. Determine how much of a factor a particular package will be in the overall decision-making.