*This post is sponsored by Discover® Student Loans. All opinions are my own. FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.

So, our oldest son, Josiah, is in his senior year of high school so we are full force in college prep and looking into how to make this process go as smoothly as possible. Discover Student Loans is really helping us stay on track with their College Planning tools and resources, so we feel really good about preparing for our son’s future. Honestly, one of the scariest parts of sending a kid to college can be the financial process, and getting ahead of it really does make a difference. On October 1, (how it that already this week?!), the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens up. Mark your calendars or refer to this checklist to help you navigate each step of the process, because it’s best to get it done as soon as possible, since some funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. 

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What is the FAFSA? 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is needed to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans. Many colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid. 

It’s super simple to fill out online but coming prepared is crucial for the process to be seamless. Preparing will help save time filling out the application and will ensure you have the information you need on-hand to complete the process. The FAFSA assistant from Discover Student Loans is an interactive resource designed to help families prepare to fill out their FAFSA application.

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What do high school seniors need to apply? 

Depending on the high school senior’s circumstances, you may need their Social Security number, (if they’re a student who is your dependent), their driver’s license or federal tax documents.  

Some examples of items you need in order to apply are: 

  • Social security number 
  • Driver’s license 
  • Tax documents and returns
  • Information on your current financial accounts
  • Colleges that you are considering 
  • Parents information
  • Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID)
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If you run into any issues while filling it out, Studentaid.gov has a comprehensive guide titled “Filling Out the FAFSA Form,” which explains the entire process from beginning to end, from creating a FSA ID to signing and submitting. Once you complete your FAFSA and it is processed, you will be sent a Student Aid Report or (SAR) which recaps the financial information you submitted. This info will be used by schools to generate your financial aid award such as federal grants, work-study or federal loans. At that point, you can begin the process of applying for scholarships (money you don’t have to pay back). Discover Student Loans offers an awesome scholarship search tool that lets you search three million scholarships worth more than $18 billion!

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We have been spending a lot of time lately looking into colleges with the best engineering programs, which can be expensive. As that is what Josiah wants to focus on as a major, making the financial process a priority is incredibly important so we can make sure he gets access to the student aid he qualifies for. This really can be such a stressful time for us as parents and our oldest son Josiah, but thanks to Discover Student Loans, we have a plan to make this time productive and successful for Josiah. Visit the Discover Student Loans website for access to additional resources to help with college prep, paying for college, scholarships, college life, and more.

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