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Fast Facts about the FAFSA
Before filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it's important to get familiar with a few facts. Remember, the FAFSA must be completed accurately and on time if you hope to obtain federal aid. We're here to help with these quick tips! (Financial aid is available to those who qualify)
1. Financial support is widely available.
Over $150 billion in financial aid money is awarded annually by the U.S. Department of Education to more than 15 million students across the country.
2. You must apply to see if you qualify for federal aid.
Remember: if you don't apply, you don't qualify. Don't believe the myth that you make too much money to get any aid. Income guidelines change every year, and there are many considerations that affect your qualification such as income, family size, how many students are in college, etc. Applying doesn't mean you automatically qualify, but you won't know if you don't apply. Also, the earlier you complete your FAFSA, the better.
3. The FAFSA includes all types of federal student aid.
This includes grants, loans, and work-study eligibility. When you fill out the FAFSA, you are applying for federal and state funds, as well as awards from your post-secondary school.
4. You'll need to gather specific information before starting the application.
When you complete the FAFSA, you'll need the following information by your side: a FSA ID (obtained from the FAFSA website), your social security number, a driver's license (if available), tax records, records of untaxed income, information on your assets, and the names of the schools you may be attending. Students under the age of 24 will likely also need this same information for their parents. If parents are divorced, the FAFSA will ask whether the parents are married, divorced or remarried. Typically, the parent the student is living with is the one that’s income is considered.
5. Your school can help you.
Many circumstances can cause your income to appear higher that it actually it. In certain circumstances, the student can request that those circumstances be reviewed by the financial aid department at the college you apply to. Each institution has professional judgment, and they can choose to consider those situations including serious illness of immediate family, loss of job, etc.
6. Don't rely ONLY on filing the FAFSA.
In addition to applying for federal aid, you can apply for scholarships and grants from a variety of other organizations, possibly including your school. You might qualify for state aid, military education benefits, private loans, or for an employer-sponsored education plan. You can also make monthly payments on your tuition. If you still feel your aid package isn't enough, contact your school's financial aid office and talk with them about your concerns and what options may be available to you.
6. You need to complete the FAFSA every year.
FAFSA is not a one-and-done deal. You'll need to complete the full application for every year in which you will be attending college and requesting financial aid, and your packages may vary.