The Need Access Application is similar to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but is unfortunately not free. Many schools require the Need Access Application in order to assess students’ eligibility for financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships.
Completing the Need Access Application can be complicated and frustrating, even more so than the FAFSA. This is especially the case because financial information from students’ parents are required, even in cases when the student is completely financially independent. There are only rare circumstances in which a student’s parents do not need to complete their financial information, and if you think you qualify for this exemption, check the Need Access website for more details.
Be sure to find out whether the schools you have been admitted to require the Need Access Application, because many do not. But those that do will not process your financial aid packet without it.
Before Filing Need Access
Before you file the Need Access Application, much like the FAFSA, you will want to have certain documents on hand for easy reference. While the Need Access Application requires data from the past year’s income tax returns, because Need Access is due prior to tax season’s close, you will be able to input “estimated” income tax information. However, the schools you have been accepted to may require you to submit the final income tax returns once they are completed.
What other financial information is needed?
Besides your income tax returns, you will need to have certain financial documents available for input into the Need Access Application. Remember, this information will be required of you and your parents. Some of these documents will be needed, depending on your individual circumstances:
Money You Have
1) Checking/Savings Account Balances
2) Other Financial Account Statements- ex. Dividends, Investments, Trust Funds, Retirement Funds
Money You Owe
1) Student Loan Statements
2) Personal Debt Statements
Need Access Application Worksheet
You may want to complete the Need Access Application Worksheet; this will ease the filing of the Need Access Application online. It may also be useful for parents to complete the worksheet, and students can input the data for them on the online form.
Be Mindful of Deadlines
The Need Access Application season begins in mid January of each year and applications can be completed through June. Given that, you must be mindful of each school’s individual deadlines for the Need Access Application and other financial aid information (such as the FAFSA and other supplements). Most Applications will probably be due in March or April for admitted students.
The Need Access Application costs $28 to submit for new applicants and $15 for renewal applications. This includes the processing and distribution of the application to various schools you have selected.
Overall, completing the Need Access Application can be time consuming, especially if you don’t have all relevant statements and documents on hand. Keep in mind that you will need to estimate a fair amount when it comes to income for the following year, and expected income during school and summer while in school. Just do the best you can-no one expects your estimates to be precise.
Lastly, do not submit the Need Access Application to schools that have not accepted you yet-even if you have been wait-listed. You will be able to go back and re-submit your Need Access Application after you receive final decisions, for no additional cost.