By Jennifer M. Sims
Killeen Daily Herald
Tax season is not the only thing generating a flurry of financial paperwork for area residents this month.
Jan. 1 marked the beginning of the application period for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the form required for anyone seeking federal student aid for college next school year.
And while many colleges have a March 1 deadline, those familiar with the process insist that the sooner the form is filed the better.
The first people to apply are the first to be considered for the billions of federal financial aid dollars distributed by the government, explained Robin Gies, a manager at the Sallie Mae Killeen office.
Sallie Mae is the nations leading provider of education funding and manages more than $98 billion in student loans for more than 7 million borrowers.
Time is money, Gies said. The clock starts ticking Jan. 1.
In an effort to prepare students and their parents for the financial aid process, the Killeen Independent School District hosted a financial aid information session Wednesday night at Harker Heights High School, during which counselors from Sallie Mae went over the fundamentals of filling out the forms. Sallie Mae will host a similar program in February.
Cassie Scott, a guidance counselor at Harker Heights High School, said that while the FAFSA form requires information from this years tax return, applicants do not have to file the tax return before submitting the financial aid application.
Scott also stressed the importance of getting the form filled out as soon as possible.
Its very important to do the FAFSA as soon as you have your taxes figured because aid is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, Scott said.
In addition to the FAFSA form, some schools may require additional paperwork, Gies said, adding that students should contact the financial aid offices of any schools to which they are applying for more information.
FAFSA forms are available through high school guidance offices, local libraries, college financial aid offices or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
For questions about filling out the form, Gies suggests applicants contact the Department of Education or visit the Sallie Mae Web site at www.Collegeanswer.com. For help over the phone, call the Killeen Sallie Mae center at 1-800-891-4599.
More than $122 billion in financial aid was awarded last academic year, according to the College Board.
Contact Jennifer M. Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org