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Ace the FAFSA
Written by MJS Admin
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 14:05

Tax reform is under discussion in Congress as we enter the fall months, and students are back in school. While we wait to see what comes out of Washington DC, here are some suggestions for students and parents to get an A+ on their next FAFSA student loan application.

Also included are articles on the requirement to renew your taxpayer identification number, as well as a checklist of "dos" and "don'ts" for anyone taking business expenses for things like travel, meals and entertainment. Since the end of the year is typically when we run into overfunding problems with retirement accounts, there's also an article with tips to fix any issues while there's still time.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a tool students use to apply for more than $120 billion in federal funds. Unfortunately, each year many students miss out. A report from NerdWallet estimates that $1,861 per eligible high school graduate of free federal grant money went unused during 2014 because they did not complete a FAFSA.

Even if you don't think you or your child qualify for federal aid, filling out a FAFSA is important because it could be used to determine eligibility for nonfederal aid and private funds.

FAFSA available Oct. 1

Previously, the FAFSA was not available until January. A recent change now makes the application available Oct. 1. This is because the 2018-19 FAFSA can be completed with your 2016 tax information.

Avoid FAFSA mistakes

Don't forgo federal student aid by making one of the following common filing mistakes:

Home office deductions
Bullet Point

Mistake: Not reading the instructions or questions

Tip: Answer all the questions, even if the answer is zero. If left blank, a question will be considered unanswered. Here are some quick tips:

  • Write dollar amounts without cents.
  • "You" and "your" refer to the student, not the parents.
  • Provide parent information if you or your child is considered a dependent of someone else.
  • Understand the definitions of key FAFSA language including: legal guardianship, parent and household size.
  • Use the available FAQs and FAFSA Information Center.
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Mistake: Incorrect, incomplete or nonmatching data

Tip: Complete the FAFSA online. Although you can complete the FAFSA on paper, it takes only three to five days to process when submitted electronically. The online version has built-in safeguards that identify and prevent many errors. Plus, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool can import information directly from your tax return. Logging in with a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID will automatically load basic information (e.g., name, birthdate, and Social Security number), reducing the likelihood of typos. You'll even receive confirmation of receipt once you submit your online application.

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Mistake: Not filing on time

Tip: Note the new October FAFSA filing start date and get the application submitted as soon as possible. The sooner you or your child gets started, the higher the likelihood of being awarded funds, since many are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Remember, students need to complete a FAFSA each year because eligibility does not carry over and can vary based on circumstances. Students can use the FAFSA Web Worksheet now to gather and organize the data needed for their application, available at www.fafsa.gov.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your situation please feel free to call.

This newsletter is provided by
MJS Payroll Plus, LLC
27251 SR 54, Suite B-14/308
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
Phone (813) 929-3098
Fax (813) 929-3099

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