The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA) is a form that can be filled out annually by current and anticipating university students (both undergraduate and graduate) and sometimes their parents in the United States to determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid (including Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs). In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid.
Tips For Getting Aid Without Delay!
Financial aid administrators and guidance counselors from around the country agree that the following tips speed up the application process.
- Important: Read the instructions!
Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, like your Social Security Number. But many questions are asked specifically for purposes of student financial aid. Common words like "household," "investments," and even "parent" may have special meaning. Read all instructions carefully.
State and school deadlines will vary and tend to be early. Check with them to find out their exact deadline dates.
Federal Student Aid will process your FAFSA if it is received on or before the deadline. However, in order for you to actually receive aid, your school must have correct, complete FAFSA information before your last day of enrollment.
- Complete Your Tax Return!
We recommend that you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) complete your tax return before filling out your FAFSA. This will make completing the FAFSA easier. If you have not filed your tax return yet, you can still submit your FAFSA but you must provide correct income and tax data once you have filed.
- Save Time: File Electronically!
Complete and submit your FAFSA online. It is the fastest and most accurate way to apply for student aid.
- Ask: Do I Need Additional Forms?
Many schools and states rely on the FAFSA as the single application for student aid. However, it would be wise to check with your state agency and the financial aid office at the school that you plan to attend to find out if they require additional forms.
Note: FASFA.ED.GOV doesn't exist. FAFSA.ED.GOV is the official FAFSA site.
FAFSA.COM is a commercial site where you pay for assistance to fill out the FAFSA form.
Who is eligible for FAFSA Student Aid?
Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest Federal Stafford and/or parent PLUS loans, regardless of income or circumstances, provided that a student:
* is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen;
* has a valid Social Security number;
* has a high school diploma or GED or for adult students, pass an Ability-to-Benefit test;
* is registered with the U.S. Selective Service (male students age 18-25);
* completes a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for education purposes;
* does not owe refunds on any federal student grants;
* is not in default on any student loans; and
* has not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs while federal aid was being received.
Why fill out a FAFSA?
The (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), or FAFSA, is the first step in the financial aid process. Use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, student loans, and college work-study. In addition, most states and schools use FAFSA information to award their financial aid. For instructions on how to complete the FAFSA, select Completing the FAFSA.
Why all the questions?
We enter your FAFSA responses into a formula (known as the Federal Methodology), which is regulated by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The result is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC is a preliminary estimate that measures your family´s financial strength. It is subtracted from the Cost of Attendance at the school(s) you plan to attend to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.
How do I find out what my EFC is?
We will send you a report, called a Student Aid Report (SAR) by e-mail or by postal mail depending on the addresses that we have on file for you. The SAR lists the information you reported on your FAFSA. At the upper right of the front page of the SAR, you´ll find a figure called the EFC.
How much aid do I get?
Schools use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package (grants, loans, and/or work-study) to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school´s cost of attendance (which can include living expenses).
TIP: If you or your family have unusual circumstances that impact your financial situation, contact your school´s financial aid office. Some examples include: unusual medical expenses, or a large change in income from last year to this year.
When do I get the aid?
Your financial aid will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is given to you for your other expenses.