Submitting a FAFSA can be one of the most intimidating steps in the application process. To help you assist students, we've compiled tools, resources and handouts below.
- pdf Paying for College Handout (English) (309 KB)
- pdf Paying for College Handout (Spanish) (311 KB)
- Financial 101 PowerPoint presentation template
- CDHE FAFSA Completion Tool
- Hosting FAFSA Completion Events
- Why does FAFSA completion matter?
College In Colorado Paying for College Handout
Whether your hosting FAFSA Workshop or reviewing the application process in class, make sure to distribute our Paying for College bi-fold in pdf English (309 KB) and pdf Spanish (311 KB) . This resource includes helpful information on the types of aid available, FAFSA application steps and fillable financial planning checklists.
CDHE FAFSA Completion Tool
With the support of The Kresge Foundation, the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) has developed an online FAFSA Completion Tool to help counselors, principals and mentors provide targeted assistance to their students.
What is it?
By logging onto fafsa.highered.colorado.gov, a visitor can track the FAFSA submission and completion percentages across Colorado by year.
What information from a student’s FAFSA submission are visible on the FAFSA Completion Online Portal?
The tool includes High School Name, student first and last Name, birthdate, FAFSA Status, Date FAFSA Submitted and verification indicator as permitted by the Federal Student Aid Office.
Who can receive “authorized user” access?
The district's Designated Signatory or Superintendent determines the authorized users and their level of access. Superintendents, principals, counselors, data technicians, workforce development mentors and administrators are the most common authorized users of the FAFSA Completion Tool. Only after signing a data agreement with CDHE does an authorized user have access to student level information on FAFSA completion status. Each cohort is securely matched to ISIR data showing a “complete,” “not complete,” “student signature,” or “parent signature” status.
How can my district receive access?
If your district is not yet using the FAFSA Completion Tool, you can work with CDHE and your district superintendent to establish a data agreement.
- Identify authorized users and complete a fillable PDF Data Agreement at fafsa.highered.colorado.gov/Resources/Contact
- Receive secure access from CDHE.
- Check in weekly for updated data.
- Follow policies and guidelines outlined in data agreement. Once this is established, your district can continue using the portal in future years.
FAFSA Guidance for DACA and/or ASSET Recipients
Students who are undocumented or protected under Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) do not qualify for federal financial aid; however, you may still receive private financial aid from institutions or other organizations.
If you are protected by DACA or are undocumented, you may take the following steps.
- Option 1: Contact your institution of choice
If you are uncomfortable filing the FAFSA, you can call the financial aid office at your institution of choice and inquire about private financial aid options. In some cases, you may need to submit an alternative aid application designed for undocumented and/DACA students to the institution.
- Option 2: File the FAFSA
Even if you are undocumented or protected by DACA, you may still submit the FAFSA. Enter your DACA-assigned social security number (SSN), or, if you don’t have one, enter a stand-in SSN using zeroes (000-00-0000). Although you will be denied federal financial aid, the institution that receives your FAFSA application may contact you and offer private aid opportunities. In this case, you will likely need to submit an alternative aid application designed for undocumented and/DACA students to the institution.
Why does FAFSA completion matter?
The FAFSA is students' ticket to receiving scholarships, grants work study and more. The class 2017 left more than $2.3 billion in aid on the table last year, and we want more Colorado students to get the financial support they deserve!
What's more, completing the FAFSA significantly increases the odds that students will continue their education—especially among low-income and minority students. In Colorado, 85 percent of high school graduates who complete a FAFSA enroll in college within 12 months. Boosting our FAFSA completion rates will boost our college-going rates, too.
More often than not, colleges, scholarship sponsors and potential employers want to consider opinions about your qualifications. These organizations will want to know from others what kind of person you are, how you perform, what you’ve done in your life and how well you’ve done it. Letters of recommendation and having references will help college admission counselors, scholarship review committee members and employers to get to know you better, and as a result, they will be able to make more well-informed decision when considering your application.
Typically, you will be required to list “references” on your college or job application. A reference is a person with whom the college or hiring official may discuss your qualities as an applicant. The best people to list as a reference are those who know you well, who know something about the school or job to which you are applying and that will be believable in the eyes of the college or hiring company. When you list someone as a reference, this gives the go-ahead to the organization to which you are applying to contact your references and discuss your characteristic and qualifications. Do not put someone down as a reference unless you have gotten their permission to do so!
A “letter of recommendation” is a document that you request from teachers, previous employers or others credible individuals that know you well. In some cases, letters you collect may be accepted from you along with your application. If you collect letters of recommendation over time to send with several applications, be sure to tell the recommender to whom you have sent their letter; they may be contacted. More typically however, the organization reviewing your application will wish to receive the letter directly from the person signing it. This is because the organization wishes to read a more honest appraisal of your skills than may be provided if you saw it first!
Having letters of recommendation handy will allow those colleges, scholarships and job representatives to read all about you without having to make contact with the recommender. Letters of recommendation can also serve you, too. We encourage you to keep copies of your letters in your College In Colorado Portfolio online file storage. These letters not only can be used more than once, but can be used on a “rainy day” when you’re not feeling down.
Who should you ask to provide a reference or write a letter of recommendation? Neighbors and acquaintances, or your parents’ acquaintances, may be willing to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation for you. Business colleagues, professors, academic advisors or counselors, customers and vendors are also good possibilities if they know you and your skills and abilities well.
If you volunteer or participate in community activities, consider using leaders or other members of the organization as references. Have you participated in your church, scouting, 4-H, or other organizations or in school sports? Are you a member of a community board or volunteer association? Have you led or participated in projects or activities that highlight your skills and abilities? Ask leaders, coaches, other board members or participants whether they would be a reference or write a letter of recommendation for you. If you have a mentor, counselor or teacher with whom you have a particularly good relationship and who understands the quality of your work in school, ask them, particularly if the position to which you are applying relates to a teacher’s subject area.
It is much easier to collect references and letters of recommendation if you remember who might be willing to provide them! Each time you develop a relationship with someone who would be a good reference, record their contact information in your College In Colorado portfolio. There is a specific area in which you record your network; those people who may be of help to you.
Just about anyone who knows you well may be willing to write you a letter of recommendation or give you a reference. Some may turn you down because they may not know how to write a good letter or may not have the time. There are several solutions for this roadblock.
First, don't ask simply "would you write a letter of recommendation for me" or “would you provide a reference for me?” Rather, ask "do you feel you know my work well enough to write me a good recommendation letter" or "do you feel you could give me a good reference?" That way, your reference writer has an easy out if they are not comfortable writing a letter and you can be assured that those who say yes are enthusiastic about your performance and will write a positive letter.
Second, when you make your request, let people know you will provide information to help them prepare. Send an updated copy of your resume and information about your skills and experiences ( pdf All About Me (488 KB) ), so that your references and writers have current information with which to work. In some cases, people may request that you draft a letter of recommendation for them to edit, sign and send in. When drafting a letter, ensure that the information is positive, accurate, well-written and that the person who will be signing it is knowledgeable about the information and attributes to which you have referred. Also, make sure to give the signor complete information about where to send the completed letter.
Sometimes it is difficult to ask someone in authority, someone who appears very busy or who is older than you to provide a reference or write a letter of recommendation for you. Overcome your fears by making sure that you have made the request easy for your recommender to accomplish and recognize that most people are excited to help others achieve their dreams of higher education and career.
- Most scholarships and many jobs require multiple and compelling recommendations. Think carefully about who knows you best when selecting your recommenders and give each of them plenty of time to write you a strong letter of recommendation.
- Inform your recommenders of the requirements of the scholarship, job or school and ask them to address specifically how you match the selection criteria.
- Check in with your recommenders at least a week before the deadline to make sure they are aware of and remind them about the deadline.
- Recommendations and references are should never be from relatives.
- Send a thank you note to your recommenders; writing a good letter of recommendation is hard work, and being a reference for you takes time!
Frequently-Asked Questions: Four-Year Applications
Applications for four-year colleges and universities will include more questions and fields than the two-year (community colleges) applications. The following information includes highlights to inform students about during the application process.
What term am I entering and what is my status? Most students will select the fall semester following their senior year. You will also have to choose one of the following statuses:
- Freshman: The first year of college in which you enroll after you graduate from high school. Even if you have advanced placement (AP) credit, concurrent/dual enrollment, or have received college credit in high school.
- Transfer: If you are graduating high school in 2018 and going directly to college, you are not a transfer student—even if you have college credit.
- Non-Degree: You would like to take college courses but are not seeking a degree.
What if I don’t know my major yet? You may claim you are “Undecided.” Remember, you can change your major during your college term.
Can I list a Post Office Box as my address? You can, but you will also need to list a physical. If you are asked for the date on which this became your permanent address, please put the date you moved to the address. If it was before you were born, put your date of birth.
What type of personal information will I need to provide? Your Social Security Number is not required, but is preferred, by most admission offices.
What family information am I required to submit? As a general rule, tuition classification is based on parent/legal guardian information unless the student will be 23 years of age or older by the start of the term, or if he or she has been “emancipated” according to state tuition classification statute. Length of connection to the state of Colorado can demonstrate the intention to make Colorado a long-term/permanent home. This information is also used for emergency contact information.
What additional information might I be asked to include in my application? This information varies by each institution. Be sure to check out each college’s Application/Materials Checklist or go to individual college websites.
All Colorado colleges and universities are required to ask questions to support a safe campus community. “Yes” responses are given careful consideration to include the scope and severity of the situation, how it was resolved, and what has happened since the occurrence. You may be asked to explain the circumstances.
Answers to the following questions are required:
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime, made a plea of guilty, accepted a deferred judgment, been adjudicated, or been required to register as a sex offender? (Misdemeanor traffic offenses are exempt.)
- Have you ever been expelled from or ineligible to return to a school or institution as the result of disciplinary action taken by the school? (Academic dismissal is exempt.)
Paying Your Application Fees
When you submit your application online, you may be required to pay an application fee. Make sure to check the Application/Materials Checklist or the college’s website for more detailed instructions before you go to the lab to work on your application.
- Most online applications prefer payment by credit card. You will need the credit card number, security code, name on the card and the date the credit card will expire.
- You can choose the fee waiver option if you qualify. DO NOT choose the fee waiver option if you do not qualify. Ask your counselor for more information.
- Some colleges offer the option to submit your application online and mail in a check. You will need to review the Application/Materials Checklist or individual Websites for each college - as each college varies.
- You can save your application, print it and mail it in with your payment.
Ready for your College Application Month journey? Over the next six weeks, we’ll walk you through the key steps in continuing your education, whether you choose to apply to the military, a certificate program, an apprenticeship or a two-year or four-year institution.
Why does higher education matter?
Studies show that by 2020, nearly three in four jobs in Colorado will require some kind of postsecondary education or training. To set yourself up for success, it’s important to reach higher and find a path that suits your unique talents and interests.
Higher education is not just good for you—it’s good for our state too! Graduates of higher education programs are more likely to be employed, earn more money over their lifetimes and lead healthier lives.
Questions on College Application Month?
We can help! Fill out this webform, and a College In Colorado staff member will get back to you.
In Week 5, you created your FSA ID and gathered the necessary filing documents. Now it's time to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF) applications!
How do I file the FAFSA?
Navigate to fafsa.gov.
Click START HERE. You will be asked to confirm that you are the student and then you will log in with your FSA ID and password.
The system will walk you through using all of the documents you gathered to enter the information required.
Before you submit your FAFSA, both you and parent must sign it. To sign the FAFSA electronically, use your FSA ID; then, ask your parent to enter their FSA ID in the parent signature box.
What happens after I file?
Filing the FAFSA is the first step in getting grants, work study, loans or scholarships. You may need to make corrections to your FAFSA if asked to do so.
- Make necessary corrections to your FAFSA.
- Add additional schools if needed.
- Contact the financial aid office at your college to confirm they received your FAFSA.
Once you file, the U.S. Department of Education will email your Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes your eligibility information to the colleges that you specified on your FAFSA. You can also look it up using your FSA ID. From there, the colleges and universities will determine how much aid they can offer you.
Important note: You may be selected for a process called verification. This means the college or university may have questions about your FAFSA. Don’t panic: work with your school to get the documents they need and stay positive!
College In Colorado can help
Colorado Opportunity Fund Applications
If you think you’ll attend an institution in Colorado, you should fill out your COF application. COF is an additional stipend for in-state students, saving you and your family even more money.
You should apply for COF regardless of your immigration status. You do not need to provide your SSN nor be a lawful U.S. resident to receive the stipend. Under the Colorado ASSET law, you may apply for COF and receive in-state tuition if you meet these criteria.
To apply, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your Social Security Number (optional)
- Your personal information (name, birthday, address)
- Whether you’re an ASCENT student
- If you’re a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident or otherwise lawfully present in the U.S.
- If you’re not currently a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or lawfully present, you will sign an affidavit along with your COF application.
Ready to apply? Navigate to the COF website and click Apply Now!