The 2018-19 FAFSA Is Now Available: What You Need to Know to Get Money for College

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The 2018-19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better know as the FAFSA, became available today.

If you’re in college now or starting college next year, filling out this form is the only way to get federal student aid. It’s also a great way to get additional money from your state and school.

More than $2.7 billion in federal aid money went unclaimed last year. Complete the FAFSA now to grab your piece of the pie.

What to know about the 2018-19 FAFSA changes

The FAFSA is used by the government and colleges to determine your eligibility for financial aid. (If you’d like to learn more about the basics, check out our ultimate FAFSA FAQ.)

The 2018-19 FAFSA, which came out today, is for anyone who will be in college between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.

If you’ve filled out the FAFSA before, you might notice a few changes to the process.

It’s available earlier

You used to have to wait until January to fill out the FAFSA, but the form is now available on October 1, which means you have more time to compare aid packages and negotiate with financial aid offices.

It also means you need to get yourself into gear and apply. Keep reading to see why you shouldn’t wait.

You’ll use last year’s income

In previous years, you had to estimate your income. For this year’s FAFSA, you’ll use data from your 2016 tax return.

If your 2017 income is significantly different, the Department of Education suggested you should contact the schools you’re applying to and explain what changed.

You can’t see numbers submitted through the IRS tool

For the past several years, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool has allowed you to automatically import your income directly into the FAFSA.

Although you still can use the tool, security concerns mean you’ll no longer be able to see or edit the numbers you submit. Instead, you’ll see a note that says “transferred from the IRS” in applicable fields.

If you did your taxes correctly, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’d like to double-check which numbers were on your tax return, you can use this IRS tool to get a transcript.

3 steps for filling out your FAFSA

The FAFSA is the only way to get federal financial aid.

Even if you think your family’s income is too high, you should fill out the FAFSA. You might qualify for a merit grant or scholarship, and you’ll need it to obtain federal student loans.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID

The student and parent each will need to create an FSA ID. After you create an ID, it might be three days before you can use it, so don’t wait.

2. Collect your documents

Then it’s time to gather everything you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA: W2s, bank statements, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and 2016 tax returns.

3. Fill out the FAFSA

Log in to FAFSA.gov with your FSA ID to fill out the form. Or try Frank, a new tool that helps you complete your FAFSA for free.

When you fill out the FAFSA, don’t panic if you aren’t sure which schools you’re applying to. Include up to 10 schools you’re considering; you can add or remove them later.

Why you should complete your FAFSA now

The technical deadline for filling out the 2018-19 FAFSA is June 2019, but you should fill out your FAFSA as soon as you can.

That’s because, although it won’t affect your federal grants, it likely will affect how much you receive from your state and college. If you fill out your form early, more money will be available — and you’ll have a better chance of snagging it.

Some states even award aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Check your state’s FAFSA deadlines here. If you see “as soon as possible after October 1, 2017,” you need to hurry.

Then check the website of each college you’re applying to. If it lists a “priority deadline,” the Department of Education explained, you’ll need to “get your FAFSA form in by that date to be considered for the most money.”

Not convinced yet? Read this statement from financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, as told to Student Loan Hero: “Students who file the FAFSA within the first three months (October, November, and December) tend to receive more than twice as much grant funding, on average, as students who file the FAFSA later.”

Unlike student loans, grants don’t need to be paid back. So to secure your future, get your FAFSA in ASAP.

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1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.00% as of January 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

  1.  Rates are as of July 1, 2019 and include auto-pay discount. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.70%. Variable interest rates range from 2.80% – 11.06% (2.80% – 10.91% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

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3.52% – 9.50%4Undergraduate and Graduate

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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