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Eight Simple Steps for Applying for Financial Aid Online

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, processes 14 million student aid requests each year. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle if you don't prepare your paperwork correctly. The online FAFSA is a streamlined, efficient way to apply for federal grants, work-study endowments, and loans--as well as complete applications for many state aid packages. The good news is, if you round up all your materials ahead of schedule, the FAFSA claims that you can complete your online application in less than an hour.

Here are ten steps to success:

First step: Round up your Social Security number, driver's license, income tax returns, bank statements, and investment records.

Second step: Download and print the pertinent FAFSA worksheets from the web--or complete them online.

Third Step: Online worksheets determine your dependency status. Submit your birthdate, marital status, number of dependents, and military status. The online engine will determine whether you need a parental signature on your aid application.

Fourth step: Complete the pertinent student financial worksheet. Lists your taxes paid for the year, tax credits, government benefits, payments to pension plans, receipts of child support, etc.

Fifth Step: Have your parents complete their worksheets. This is for dependents only. Report all earned income, child tax credits, welfare, or social security benefits.

Sixth Step: Complete the Drug Conviction Worksheet. Possession or sales of illegal drugs may disqualify you from receiving aid.

Seventh Step: Search and verify school codes for the institutions to which you plan to submit applications.

Eighth Step: Complete signatures via one of two options: use a pin to sign and submit electronically, or print out your documents and send them snail mail.

Remember, FAFSA online applications must be submitted by midnight (central daylight time) on June 30, 2008. Your school must have all completed forms in hand by the end of the 2008-2009 school year.

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