Getting a Head Start on the FAFSA

Last Updated Nov 23, 2009 6:28 PM EST

If your child will start college next fall, you might be wondering when you can file your FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
You've got to wait until Jan. 1, 2010 to complete your FAFSA, but there are a couple of things you can do now to get a jump on the financial aid process.

For starters, you and your child should each apply for a FAFSA PIN. You'll need these student and parent PINs to electronically sign the FAFSA and to access your financial aid records.

My son Ben just applied for his FAFSA PIN today and it only took him two or three minutes. I plan to get one today myself.

I'd also suggest that you take a look at the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. This way you can see all the questions before entering the data online. The worksheet for 2010 is not available yet, but you can see what the 2009-2010 worksheet looks like.

By the way, families are on track to file an historic number of FAFSA forms in 2009. During this year of the jobless recovery, Americans have filed nearly 20% more FAFSA forms through the third quarter than in 2008. By the end of the year, families will have completed roughly 19 million financial aid applications.

Read More:

Financial Aid Dilemma: Should I Apply for Financial Aid?

Six Ways to Get Last-Minute Cash for College

FAFSA PIN image by Marco Veringa. CC 2.0.