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It's time to fill out the FAFSA

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High school seniors planning to attend college or technical school next fall should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also called the FAFSA, as soon as possible beginning Oct. 1.

The information on the FAFSA determines if students qualify for federal grants and student loans. It is also required to apply for state grants and scholarships. In addition, many colleges use the information to award their own grants and scholarships. Therefore, students should submit the FAFSA even if they feel it is unlikely they will qualify for aid.

The FAFSA asks for information about income, assets and expenses. A formula set by Congress determines eligibility for federal and state aid. If the student is considered a dependent under federal guidelines, both the student and parents must provide financial information. Nearly all students going directly to college from high school are considered dependent.

Some student aid programs have limited money and provide funds on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible.

The FAFSA is available online at www.fafsa.gov. Students who do not have an FSA ID must first visit fsaid.ed.gov to set one up. Parents of dependent students must also set up an FSA ID.

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