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Press release from Business Wire

Sallie Mae Offers College-Bound Students Tips to Make Filing the FAFSA Easier

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sallie Mae Offers College-Bound Students Tips to Make Filing the FAFSA Easier14:47 EST Wednesday, February 15, 2012 NEWARK, Del. (Business Wire) -- With college applications squared away, deadlines are fast approaching for college-bound students and their families to maximize their chances of qualifying for financial aid. That means it's time to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is used by both federal and state governments to allocate need-based and other grants, work-study funds, and federal loans. According to research from Sallie Mae, 20percent of undergraduate families did not submit the FAFSA last academic year, a smaller percentage than previously. Research shows that half said they did not complete the form because they were not aware or did not think they would qualify for aid. “Sallie Mae recommends a ‘1-2-3 approach' to help families pay for college: first, take advantage of free money such as grants and scholarships, second, explore federal loans, and, third, fill the gap with affordable private loans,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “The good news is that the FAFSA is easy to complete once you gather your financial records and dedicate an hour or two.” The FAFSA asks essentially the same questions this year as last. Families can opt in to transfer financial data from their IRS tax forms over to pre-populate the FAFSA. Sallie Mae recommends tips to make filling out the FAFSA easier: Gather supporting documents. Collect documents with the information you'll need to complete the form. Documents that will make the process easier include student and parent driver's licenses, latest federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements, investment information and Social Security numbers. Know your state's deadline. When it comes to the FAFSA, it's imperative for families to learn their state's submission deadline. Deadlines vary by state, and some are as early as today in Connecticut and March 1 in Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Montana and Rhode Island. State deadlines are available on the FAFSA website at www.fafsa.ed.gov. In addition, check your school's deadlines and additional financial aid applications requirements. Don't let income tax filings slow you down. Though the FAFSA requires students and parents to use 2011 tax information, families can use their 2010 taxes or other best estimate to get started and then later update the form once 2011 taxes have been filed. Sallie Mae recommends families learn the cost of their top college choices and create a financial plan using the 1-2-3 approach. Sallie Mae's free Education Investment Planner helps families compare costs and build a customized budget. College-bound students who have already decided where they're headed in the fall should also consult the new “net price” calculators that colleges are required to offer online. Three how-to videos are available online at www.SallieMae.com/FAFSA, with downloadable forms with more information on aid qualifications, mistakes to avoid with the FAFSA, and information on when to submit. Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation's No. 1 financial services company specializing in education. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae turns education dreams into reality for its 25 million customers. With products and services that include college savings programs, scholarship search tools, education loans, tuition insurance, and online banking, Sallie Mae offers solutions that help families save, plan, and pay for college. Sallie Mae also provides financial services to hundreds of college campuses as well as to federal and state governments. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America. Sallie MaePatricia Nash Christel, 302-283-4076patricia.christel@salliemae.comorAbigail Harper, 302-283-4060abigail.harper@salliemae.com