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Tips and Tricks for the FAFSA

Admissions Financial Aid

On your mark, get set, let’s FAFSA! What is FAFSA you may ask? Great question! 

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once you input your family’s tax information from the two years prior,  the FAFSA will calculate a personalized Expected Family Contribution, also referred to as your EFC. This is the amount the federal government expects you should be able to pay for college. And it’s the number colleges and universities use to help determine your financial need.  

Write your sticky note, circle it on the calendar, make Siri set that reminder - FAFSA opens on October 1st! This is super important, because the sooner you fill it out and submit it, the better! Some federal and state-based financial aid is available on a first come first served basis. Don’t wait until the last minute, fill out the form soon as you can. This is also beneficial because once your FAFSA form is complete and sent to the schools you are interested in, we can create the most accurate financial aid package for you. 

No matter what bracket your family’s income falls in, I’d still encourage you to submit the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think your family will qualify, submit it and find out for sure (especially your first year!). We would hate for you to miss out on the opportunity for free money! 

The FAFSA sometimes gets a bad rap for being really complicated or taking forever to fill out. But fear not! We have some great tips to help make the process smoother. And on top of that, we have a whole financial aid office dedicated to helping you through the process. Whether you’ve been submitting the FAFSA for the last five years, or this is your very first time - there are people here to help, you don’t have to do it alone! 

Just like you would probably prepare for an exam before taking it, do some FAFSA prep too! Before getting started, gather and organize the following materials to have on hand:  

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • A Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) to sign electronically. (Both students and parents will need one)
  • If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s) as well
Have questions? Feel free to check out our FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions page or connect with your financial aid counselor. We look forward to partnering with you as we figure out all the dollars and cents.

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Brennan Rains


Brennan is a George Fox grad, finishing in 2017.  He has been working as a Financial Aid Counselor in the Financial Aid office since October 2018. In his free time, he likes to explore hiking areas and watch football.  

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