Unitek College logo

10 Tips for FAFSA First Timers

One of the most important things a Unitek College Dental Assisting student can do to prepare for their first semester is fill out and submit their Free Applications for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. Not only can this form help qualify you for many student loans, but you also may discover scholarships and grants you didn’t know were available.

If you’re filling out the FAFSA for the first time, the paperwork (actual or electronic) can seem daunting, so to help out, we’ve put together a list of ten tips to help make your application process go as smoothly as possible.

Tip #1 – Have Your Papers Ready. As with most federal forms, you’ll need to provide quite a few pieces of identifying information. So make sure you have the following nearby: your social security number, driver’s license (if applicable), your alien registration number (if you aren’t a US citizen), your latest W2’s, a recent bank statement, and records of all forms of income, even if it’s an investment or untaxed. And remember-if you’re a dependent, you’ll need your parents’ information as well.

Tip #2 – Get That PIN Number Now. To file your FAFSA, you’ll need a federal PIN number, which you can go ahead and get now at www.pin.ed.gov. Save it in a safe place! You’ll need it later.

Tip #3 – Take It Slow, Get It Right. There are a lot of information fields on this application, and nothing screws up the response time faster than incorrect data. Double check that all your dollar amounts are correct, your addresses are current, and just to be safe, don’t leave any fields blank; enter a “0” instead.

Tip #4 – Hang On To Your Tax Returns. This might feel like the right time to include a copy of your tax returns, but hang onto those for the time being. If additional information or verification is needed, they’ll let you know, but initially, keep those tax returns to yourself.

Tip #5 – Let The Website Work For You. You’ll be working hard enough as a Dental Assistant once you complete your degree, so no need to waste any effort now! The FAFSA website is built to help catch errors as you enter them, so pay attention to anything the site flags. The site also provides worksheets to help you figure out what goes in what field, so be sure and use those if you need a little help.

Tip #6 – Talk To Your Financial Aid Counselor. Life can throw some curveballs at you, and family finances can change between filing your FAFSA and your first day of class. If you go through any financial changes, big (loss of a job) or small (medical expenses), be sure and let your Unitek College financial aid advisor know. They may be able to find additional means of financial support.

Tip #7 – Forget The 401k. If you have money in a retirement plan, don’t mention it on the FAFSA. They don’t count those funds as part of your income and assets, and if you include it on your form, it could significantly decrease your possible student aid. This applies to home equity as well. Stick to the numbers on your tax returns.

Tip #8 – Don’t Procrastinate. Student aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Get your application in as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.

Tip #9 – You Can Call A Mulligan. For those of you who don’t golf, that essentially means a “do over” for any mistakes. The FAFSA website has a link that allows you to correct any mistakes if you catch them post-submission.

Tip #10 – Go Above And Beyond. You filled out the FAFSA and submitted your application without a hitch. Congratulations! … But you aren’t done yet. There are still thousands of dollars in student aid available through other outside sources, and you’ll never find them if you stop looking now. The FAFSA can help bring in a lot of financial support, but for the maximum amount, you’ll need to go the extra mile.

Filing for student aid doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Just be prepared, take your time, and constantly be on the lookout for additional aid. And remember, your financial aid advisors at Unitek College are on constant standby to help you out with any questions, concerns, or problems. We want nothing more than to help ease the financial stress of tuition, so that all your focus can go into becoming the best Dental Assistant possible.

For additional information on Unitek College’s financial aid opportunities, including veteran’s benefits, visit https://www.unitekcollege.edu/financial-aid-info.