FAFSA: The Federal Student Aid Start Place

Federal Student Loans

FAFSA: The Federal Student Aid Start Place 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, available at fafsa.ed.gov is a good place to start when applying for federal student aid. This application takes your personal and financial information in one place. Then, the application is used to determine how much aid you are able to qualify for based on that information. If you fail to complete this form, you may not be eligible for financial aid in the coming year.

How FAFSA Works

Much like a student aid report, the FAFSA takes all of your information and determines what you qualify for in the coming school year. You will need first to determine your dependency status, which determines if you are considered a dependent student under your parents or not. Then, you will need to ensure your school is an approved school for federal student aid. You can do this on the site by simply locating your school's code. Once you have done this, the next step is to work through the application itself.

You can complete the application after January 1st for the following school year. The application asks basic questions about your personal and financial situation. It will also ask you about your school plans, such as if you will enroll full or part time. Once you input all necessary information into the system, the FAFSA requires an electronic signature. It will take the organization several months to process your application. However, you can now check the status of your application online using a code given to you during the process.

Important Factors on Completing the FAFSA

For this student aid application, keep the following in mind:

  • You will need to complete your first FAFSA application during high school for the year starting in the fall.
  • Your parents may need to be a part of the process, if it is determined that you are a dependent student.
  • All of the information you provide through the application, on the website, is safe. You do not have to worry about anyone else getting this information.
  • After your first year, completing subsequent applications is easier since most of the basic financial information is already in the system. Nevertheless, to qualify for federal financial aid, you will need to complete the FAFSA each year.

What Happens After?

Once the federal government processes all of this information, you will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. This report outlines all information you submitted and then states the Expected Family Contribution amount. It is also sent to the school you enrolled in. This is the amount of money that your family is expected to pay towards your education for the school year.

Do You Need the FAFSA?

Without the FAFSA, you will be unable to obtain free money grants or low cost federal student aid. This data is critical for both parents and students to have as they begin their search for college loans. Most college students will need to complete this application to start on the path of funding their college education.

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