Admissions Blog: Why you should submit your FAFSA, and how

Wanda and DaZane
Sweet Briar’s Director of Financial Aid Wanda Spradley (right) talks to DaZané Cole ’20, a student worker in the financial aid office, in 2018.

October isn’t just for Halloween. It’s also FAFSA time! As of Oct. 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is now open, and you should take advantage of it — even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid. Because maybe you do! But before you jump on it, here are some things to remember when completing the FAFSA.

  1. You can complete the FAFSA several ways:
    • Online 💻 at fafsa.gov
    • On your phone📱: FAFSA for iOS or FAFSA for Android
    • On paper 📝(still available but takes longer)
  2. Both you and your parent must create an FSA.ID.
  3. Please note: Your parents can use their 2018 tax return(s) for the FAFSA — no need to wait until they have filed their 2019 return(s)!
  4. Don’t leave any questions blank. Use zero instead of leaving blank answers.
  5. Make sure you use the exact name that is listed on your Social Security card — no nicknames.
  6. If you don’t understand a question, use FAFSA’s Help section or call us at 800-381-6156. We’ll be happy to assist you! 🤷🏽‍♀️
  7. Use the IRS Data Retrieval tool when you get to the financial section for both student and parent. It’s the easiest tool to use and makes us very happy in the financial aid office! 😊
  8. Check with your high school counselor about outside scholarships. They may know of some civic or community organizations that offer scholarships.
  9. Meet all deadlines. Check with the colleges you are interested in for deadlines and list those colleges on your FAFSA.
  10. Get your FAFSA done as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
  11. Remember, here at Sweet Briar, our tuition is competitive with state colleges, and we offer more than 250 scholarships. But you must apply — and complete the FAFSA!🎓
  12. Completing your FAFSA and an application by Oct. 1 means you will receive an admission decision and — if accepted — your financial aid package before the winter holidays! ☃️🏝

Ready to fill out the FAFSA? Go to fafsa.gov and get started.

Ready to apply to Sweet Briar? Visit sbc.edu/apply.


Wanda SpradleyWanda Spradley is the director of financial aid at Sweet Briar College, where she has been working for more than 15 years. When she isn’t meeting with students or writing award letters, Wanda can be found spending time with her family and scrapbooking. Wanda graduated from Sweet Briar in 2009.

A version of this article was first published in October 2018.