FAFSA Advice from the Financial Aid Director

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) became available on October 1, 2018 for those students who will be in college for the 2019-2020 academic year. Every year, Financial Aid gets a lot of questions from families so I thought I’d take a moment to share some answers and recommendations to commonly asked questions.

 
“We still haven’t done the FAFSA yet! Are we way behind?”
Absolutely not! Some families choose to do the FAFSA right away, and if you’ve done that already, kudos to you. No worries if you haven’t, though! There’s still plenty of time. If you complete the FAFSA and have the results sent to Michigan Tech (school code 002292) by the end of November, your student will receive a financial aid award package in the first round when we mail them in late December. After that, we create financial aid packages and send them out on a rolling basis.
 
“Is there a time we should for sure have the FAFSA done by?”
To be considered for the maximum financial aid opportunities, we recommend completing the FAFSA and having it sent in no later than March 1. This is what we call our priority deadline. (For Michigan residents, the State of Michigan also sets March 1 as their deadline for filing in order to be fully considered for any State financial aid programs your student may be eligible for.)
 
“I’ve heard about this IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  What is this?”
When completing the FAFSA, you will have the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. It’s not required, but it can make completing the FAFSA easier and more accurate. This tool allows students and parents who filed a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the FAFSA. Basically, if you can use this tool, we recommend it. It can import the correct information directly into the FAFSA, saving you a lot of time! It also reduces the chances that Michigan Tech will need to ask you for verification documents later on. (Not everyone will be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If the site doesn’t allow you to use this feature, no worries. You can still move forward just fine by manually inputting your information.)
 
“Wait a minute, what are these verification documents you speak of?”
Sometimes, whether you use IRS Data Retrieval or not, Michigan Tech may still be required to ask you for certain verification documents. Sometimes this means there could be an error with what was entered on the FAFSA, but other times, it often is just another layer of security and verification that the Department of Education requires us to collect. No need to be concerned if you are selected! The most common documents we’re required to ask for are copies of W2s and IRS tax return transcripts. If you are selected for verification after we receive your FAFSA, we’ll send you information on what we need from you and how you can obtain it.
 
“Okay, but do we even need to do the FAFSA?”
While not every student will qualify for need-based financial aid as a result of their FAFSA results, we highly recommend doing a FAFSA each year. The majority of students, regardless of family income, will still be offered low-interest federal student loans. In addition, by doing the FAFSA, we may be able to consider your student later on for other grants and scholarships if they become available. Completing the FAFSA will also allow your student to receive a financial aid award package which will detail the estimated cost of attendance while also noting any and all financial aid they are being offered.
If you haven’t done the FAFSA yet, it’s okay! You’re not behind. If you have other questions along the way regarding the FAFSA, your student’s financial aid award letters, or anything else about paying for a Michigan Tech education, just call Financial Aid at 888-688-1885 or email finaid@mtu.edu. We’re here to help!
Joe Cooper
Director of Financial Aid
Michigan Technological University