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December Newsletter: Financial Aid Checklists | Ask the Edvisor | Affordable Care Act Deadlines

19 December 2013 18,465 views No Comment

December Financial Aid Newsletter

3 Must-See Financial Aid Checklists

Your December break is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming school term and the financial aid application season. These checklists will help you get ready:

#1 – Documents to collect

  • W-2 forms, 1099 forms, records of earned income, and records of other taxable income such as unemployment benefits
  • Federal income tax returns for the prior tax year, if completed (IRS Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ or the equivalent foreign income tax return)
  • Records of child support paid, if any
  • Records of untaxed income, if any
  • Current bank and brokerage account statements
  • Records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments
  • Records of student aid funds that were included in adjusted gross income (AGI), such as the taxable portion of scholarships and fellowships and AmeriCorps benefits
  • Records of taxable earnings from Federal Work-Study or other need-based work programs

#2 – Online tasks to complete

#3 – Funding options to investigate

  • Scholarships: Use a tool like Student Scholarship Search to find scholarships with upcoming deadlines, or join a program like ScholarshipPoints.com, which offers monthly scholarship drawings.
  • Work-study: If you were awarded work-study as part of your aid package, check with your school’s financial aid office to confirm any remaining funds.
  • Student loans: If you’ve exhausted your federal loans and can’t meet your expenses, consider a private student loan to make up the difference.

Taking care of these steps now will save you a lot of stress over the next few months!

Ask the Edvisor: Your Questions, Answered

This month we received quite a few questions about the upcoming FAFSA season. Here are the two most common:

Q: When will the 2014-2015 FAFSA be available? What is the deadline to submit the FAFSA?

Here is the answer, from the premier expert on financial aid and “edvisor,” Mark Kantrowitz:

A: The 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available on January 1, 2014. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. Do not wait until you have filed your federal income tax returns or been admitted to the college or university you hope to attend.

The FAFSA is used not only to apply for federal student aid, but also for state grants and college-specific financial aid funds. Some states and colleges have very early deadlines or award money on a first-come, first-served basis. So, even though you have 18 months to file the FAFSA for federal student aid – the FAFSA must be received by June 30, 2015 or the last day of classes, whichever comes first – waiting to file the FAFSA could cause you to miss state and college financial aid deadlines.

It is ok to use estimated income and tax information from W-2 and 1099 statements and the last pay stub of the year for the initial application. You will be required to update this information after you have filed your federal income tax returns. Consider using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, if eligible, to update your FAFSA, since this will reduce the likelihood your FAFSA will be selected for verification.

Our goal here at Edvisors is to help you make the best decisions about your college or university education. Part of that is answering your questions about student financial aid. We’ve added a new section to our website that will feature your financial aid questions and Mark’s helpful advice. Submit your question to be included in Ask the Edvisor.

Affordable Care Act Deadline Extensions

In the October edition of the Financial Aid Newsletter, we provided some helpful information about the Affordable Care Act and how it specifically impacts college students. Since then, the federal government has extended the deadlines to apply and pay for health insurance through the healthcare exchanges.

New deadlines for coverage that starts on January 1, 2014:

Submit your application by December 23, 2013
Make your first insurance payment by December 31, 2013

If you need to apply, check out the health exchanges right now.

Are You Ready for Your Next Tuition Bill?

The end of the year is almost here, and that means another tuition bill. It can be tough to manage your college finances, especially if your first term expenses were higher than you expected. If you have exhausted your federal aid funds, you might want to consider a non-federal loan to fill the gap.

Find a lender you can trust.

The Seven Scholarships

This monthly section of the Financial Aid Newsletter features an intriguing list of seven scholarships that share a common characteristic. We hope this section will make you smile and inspire you to apply for more scholarships.

Seven Winter Sports Scholarships

  1. FMC Ice Sports Skaters Scholarship
  2. Hec Gervais Academic and Curling Scholarship
  3. Midway Speedskating Club Bill Cushman Scholarship
  4. Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) Scholarships
  5. Randy Price Memorial Fund Award
  6. U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund
  7. USASA (United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association) Chuck Allen Ski Scholarship

Featured Scholarships

This month we are highlighting the 12 Days of Scholarships from the ScholarshipPoints program. We’re a few days into the competition, but you still have time to enter many of the drawings. Simply log in to your account and spend your points on these drawings before midnight Pacific each night:

Watch for our notification emails to see if you are a winner!

Stat Snapshot

How important is a college education today?

How Important is a College Education Today?
Source: Gallup poll data

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