How soon do I need to file the FAFSA, and should I still apply if I think my family makes too much money?
The sooner you file the FAFSA at fafsa.gov, the better. While our priority application date is April 1st each year, the FAFSA becomes available on October 1st each year. Those who meet the priority date will be prioritized for financial aid. We highly encourage all students to file the FAFSA as soon as possible. The application is free, and it's not just a way to determine how much federal student aid you'll receive. The information from the FAFSA is also used to determine what state and institutional aid you qualify for, including scholarships within the academic units. Even if your household income is too high for you to qualify for federal grants or work-study funds, the FAFSA is also used to determine federal student loan eligibility. There's no harm in applying, and on average, it only takes 23 minutes to fill out the FAFSA.
How do I enter my income and my parent's income on the FAFSA?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA makes entering required income question straightforward and simple. When you login to the FAFSA, you can provide the permissions to connect to your IRS information, which allows many questions to be automatically completed. The FAFSA uses income tax information from two years prior, which also means you don't have to wait to file taxes in order to file your FAFSA. Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is the best way to file the FAFSA. Unfortunately, not all tax filers are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If that's the case, you can follow the instructions on the FAFSA closely to determine how to answer each income question.
Where can I get help filing my FAFSA?
If you are an incoming student in Nebraska, we have a great resource in the state through EducationQuest. College planning staff at EducationQuest serve as guides for FAFSA filing and travel across the state to help students prepare for college and file the FAFSA. If you are a current student or in close proximity to campus, you can visit the Husker Hub for help filing your FAFSA. We recommend you bring your own device to file the FAFSA, which you can do at fafsa.gov or through the myStudentAid App available through your provider's app store. Incoming students from out-of-state can call the Husker Hub as well or visit the financial aid office at your local community college or university nearest you where staff in financial aid offices all around the country are more than willing to help prospective college students complete the FAFSA.
What are some common mistakes students and families make when filing the FAFSA?
The first mistake you can make is not filling out the FAFSA in the first place! Don't assume that you can't afford college - the FAFSA opens the door to many different opportunities for financial aid, and the sooner you apply, the better, as state grant agencies and scholarship organizations— which often have a limited pot of funds to give out on a first-come, first-served basis— usually require you to have filed a FAFSA in order to receive aid. Keep in mind that you can add multiple schools to the FAFSA, so if you're at all interested in Nebraska, please complete it and include Nebraska's School Code (002565). If you include Nebraska on your FAFSA, you will receive communications from us on next steps as well as a financial aid offer once your application is reviewed.
You don't need to commit to attending the University of Nebraska in order to file the FAFSA, and you don't need to have your taxes completed yet for the previous year because you will use tax information from two years prior. You will also have the option to retrieve your IRS data to automatically populate the FAFSA, which simplifies the application process, helps reduce errors and lowers your chances of being selected to verify the information on your FAFSA. When filling out the FAFSA, make sure to do so by our April 1st priority date, take your time to avoid information errors, and not leave too many spaces blank. Be sure to use your legal name, have official documents you need ready, and see what other common mistakes you can avoid.
Besides federal grants and loans, where can I go to find money for college?
In addition to federal grants, loans, and other types of aid (such as Pell Grants, Direct Loans, and the Federal Work-Study Program), students can receive financial aid from the State of Nebraska, the University or academic units within the University, and a variety of community organizations. File the FAFSA to be considered for state and campus-based aid. There are other independent sources -- through community organizations, churches, and private organizations -- that award financial aid to students. Remember that you do not have to pay anyone to help you find aid, and if you have questions, you can reach out to the Husker Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides tuition, fees, housing, and meals, what else should I include in a budget for the school year?
It's important to make sure you have enough money and financial aid to cover tuition and fees, and living expenses, but there are other expenses that make up the entire cost of attending college. Be sure to also budget for textbooks and supplies, transportation, travel to and from home during breaks, and emergencies. In some cases, you might also be required to purchase certain supplies specific to your major that might not be listed in the overall estimate for the cost of attendance.
How can I set myself up for success when preparing to repay my student loans?
There are several different repayment plans for student loan borrowers. The best way to set yourself up for success is to pick the repayment plan that's best for you to avoid falling into default. Borrowers start out on a standard 10-year repayment plan after a six-month grace period passes, but if that's too much to handle, there are other repayment plans based on your income that can adjust your monthly payments. If you aren't sure which repayment plan best fits your needs, you can learn more and see what your monthly payments would look like with different plans on studentaid.gov. It's also important to communicate with your student loan servicer and let them know if you need help in repayment. You can find out who your servicer is through the National Student Loan Data System for Students by clicking on "Financial Aid Review."