Most students use some form of financial aid to help pay for college. You can start the financial aid process by applying now, if you plan to attend NDSU next fall. The first step is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
The FAFSA is really important because it opens access to many types of financial aid. It determines your eligibility for federal aid, which includes federal grants, loans and work study. North Dakota State Grant, private loans, need-based scholarships and some private financial aid providers use it to make decisions.
It’s helpful to complete the FAFSA early. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so taking action now maximizes opportunity. Feb. 1, 2021, is the priority deadline to apply for several financial aid programs, including North Dakota State Grant, Federal Work Study and need-based scholarships.
Tips for a smooth application process
Filling out the FAFSA isn’t hard, but it requires information you may not know off the top of your head. Here are tips to help you prep:
1. Review FAFSA resources. NDSU’s FAFSA resources page explains the steps and terminology. Accuracy and completeness matter, so it’s helpful to understand what you will be asked in advance.
2. Gather all your information before you start. You’ll need your FSA ID, social security number, driver’s license number, tax information, financial records and a list of colleges you’re considering. NDSU’s FAFSA school code is 002997.
3. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This allows you to upload student and parent tax information to the FAFSA. “The use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool could save you a great deal of time and effort,” said Jeff Jacobs, director of financial aid and scholarships at NDSU. “Students who use this feature will expedite their financial aid application and it will be less likely that you will need to provide additional financial information to NDSU.”
4. Check for accuracy and completeness. Errors and missing information delay the process, so review your application carefully before submitting.
Complete your FAFSA
The FAFSA for the 2021-2022 academic year is available now. NDSU financial aid award notices will be available in March.
“Completion of the FAFSA is required each year. If you are planning to return to NDSU next fall, you should complete the 2021-2022 FAFSA soon after Oct. 1, 2020, to be considered for the maximum amount of financial aid funding,” Jacobs said. “Students discover a big benefit by applying early as they can complete all of the necessary steps in a timely manner and they don’t experience issues with delays in funding. I urge you to apply now.”