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ECMC Offers Tips To Navigate the Path to Paying for College Just in Time for FAFSA Filing Season

September 20, 2018

With college planning season upon us and billions in federal financial aid available for students, Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) is offering free resources and helpful tips to help them navigate the process. ECMC sponsors financial literacy programs and works with student loan borrowers to help them successfully repay their loans.

"Selecting a college is one of the largest financial commitments a person will make in their lifetime," said Paula Craw, vice president of student success and outreach at ECMC. "ECMC is working to ensure students and families have access to the greatest amount of federal aid possible by easing the burden of understanding the complex application process."

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens Oct. 1 for the 2019-2020 school year. The FAFSA serves as the gateway to all federal financial aid including grants, loans and work-study.

ECMC developed the following timeline to help students and families with the FAFSA filing process to ensure they have the best opportunity to secure federal financial aid: (information is also available in the form of an infographic).

Before you file the FAFSA:

  • Create an FSA ID. At least one parent and the student are required to create an FSA ID (if the student is dependent).
  • Not sure whether you should file as a dependent or independent? Determine your status.
  • If you are a dependent student, you will need at least one parent's financial information (tax records, W2 forms, bank statements) to file the FAFSA.
  • Include a list of your top school choices and their federal school codes. This will allow the FAFSA to send your results directly to your preferred institutions.
  • Make sure you file your FAFSA in time to meet each of your desired schools' financial aid deadlines and their priority filing dates.
  • Pay attention to your state's deadlines. Many states with limited amounts of funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so the earlier you file your FAFSA, the better.

Filling out the FAFSA:

  • Set aside about 30 minutes to complete the form. File online or via the new mobile app.
  • Remember to print a copy of your completed FAFSA for your records.
  • Early filers may have access to more aid so don't wait.

After you file:

  • Expect to receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) about a week after you file your FAFSA. The SAR summarizes the information you provided on the FAFSA and provides your estimated eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant.
  • Also, expect to receive an award letter from the schools where you have been accepted.
  • Compare the financial aid packages and the overall fit and choose a school!

In addition to the tips, ECMC offers a free downloadable workbook that features a variety of worksheets and information to help students throughout the college planning process. Opportunities books are available in English and Spanish.

For more information, visit

About ECMC
Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) is a nonprofit corporation with a mission to help students succeed. ECMC works to lower student loan default rates; sponsors college access and success initiatives, and financial literacy programs; and provides resources to support student loan borrowers to successfully repay their loans.

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