The U.S. federal government provides a limited amount of financial aid every year. The exact amount is set by legislation and the primary qualification is for a student to demonstrate actual financial need. Unfortunately, a lot of eligible students don’t actually get any help paying for tuition.
With school costs constantly rising at record speeds, there is never enough for everyone regardless of how much extra financial aid is voted into the system every year. Since not everyone who needs the money can have the amount promised, it all comes down to who asks first and follows all of the directions.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) become available on January 1st of every year, but you need some information before you can complete the application and turn it in. First, you need to have a PIN – a Personal Identification Number – with the federal FAFSA system. These can take a day or a week to process, so it is usually a good idea to get one ahead of time. The other major documentation that will be required for a complete application is in regard to the prior year’s income. If the student is 24 or younger, he or she will need access to parental financial and income statements – if the student is older, they will only need their own financial records.
When the PIN and financial documents are available, a FAFSA can be completed online for no cost through the official government website located at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm
Time is of the essence! All eligible applications are honored – until the money runs out. When the government receives your application they pass it on to the college, and the college starts assigning financial aid and student loan funding. So the longer you wait to file the application, the less likely it is you’ll get a share!