Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Dec 29, 2011

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In order to receive the most help on paying back student loans, make sure to fill out a FAFSA form every year.


Sallie Mae, the nation’s number one education financing company, advises all students to fill out the FAFSA as part of their New Year’s resolution. The FAFSA is what the United States government uses in order to determine how much financial aid a student qualifies for. Regardless of the amount allotted to an individual, every small bit counts in paying off student loans.


A national study titled “How America Pays for College” revealed that nearly 80 percent of undergraduates applied for FAFSA last year. While that’s the highest percentage recorded since the study began five years ago, it still leaves 20 percent of students who missed out on potential student aid.


Some ignore the FAFSA because they don’t think they’ll qualify for any student loan aid.


In a video explaining how students may submit their FAFSA, Sallie Mae dispels the common misconception that not everybody qualifies for student aid. Rather, “virtually every U.S. citizen attending an accredited college is eligible for some kind of financial aid.”


Filling Out the FAFSA


In order to fill out the FAFSA, students will need their:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social security number
  • Most recent W-2 Form
  • Bank statements
  • Paper work for stocks, bonds, and other assets


Federal tax forms for both the student and the student’s parents will be necessary to filling out the FAFSA as well.


The deadlines for completing the FAFSA differ by state and institution. The earliest deadline is in Connecticut (February 15), with the next earliest states being California, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, and Michigan (early March).


However, in order for students to ensure themselves they’ll receive aid for their student loans, it is important to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. Many of the programs are funded on a first-come, first-serve basis, lending credence to the phrase “the early bird gets the worm.”