The Fundamentals of FAFSA

Nearly every college in the United States relies on FAFSA to determine how much financial aid – including grants, loans, and work study – a student can receive. The entire FAFSA process can be a daunting and difficult one for those who do not know what to expect. Before filling out and filing the FAFSA form, it is first crucial to understand what it is and what it does. Otherwise, it is liable to look like so much Greek. The following is an explanation of the fundamental points of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

A student’s financial aid package depends first and foremost on his or her Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The purpose of FAFSA is to calculate what a student’s Expected Family Contribution is. That is the reason why the United States Department of Education created the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA determines what is known as a “need analysis,” which is based on a student’s financial information. Important factors include income and assets – meaning that a student is not necessarily out of luck simply because they or their parents make a lot of money. For instance, if a family makes a lot of money but most of it goes toward paying bills, leaving only a small amount, then a student can still receive a very good financial aid package. However, this only applies if a student is a dependent student – that is, dependent on his or her parents. Once the FAFSA form is analyzed and processed, the findings are forwarded to the student’s university of choice.

There is some form of financial aid out there for every student no matter what his or her income – and no matter what his or her family’s income. There are, however, certain eligibility requirements for FAFSA. A student must be either a citizen of the United States or else an eligible non-citizen of the United States. He or she must have a valid social security number, as well as either a GED or a high school diploma. He or she has to have completed the FAFSA form, wherein he or she promises that the federal aid will be used for education. If the prospective student is a male between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, he must be registered with the United States Selective Service. To be eligible for FAFSA, a student cannot owe any refunds on federal grants, cannot have defaulted on any student loans, and cannot have been found guilty for the sale or possession of illegal drugs, at any time that he or she was receiving financial aid.

The FAFSA form must be completed before a student can receive any financial aid. It is the first and most important step in the financial aid process. FAFSA is the most important thing when it comes to determining how much financial aid a student will receive as well, so it is important to be detailed and truthful when filling it out and extremely prompt in filing it.

What is FAFSA?

FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form that is filled out by university students and parents to apply for federal financial aid, which includes grants, scholarships, student loans and work-study programs. In addition to the federal government, schools, states and private financial institutions also use the information from the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for non-federal aid.

Each year, the Department of Education issues a new FAFSA for the subsequent academic year. You can either use the online version of FAFSA or you can obtain a printed copy of the application form from your high school counselor. If you intend to use the online version, then you would have to apply for Personal Identification Number (PIN). For this you would have to submit your name, date of birth, social security number and address. Once, you get your PIN, you can fill out the form and submit it online or print it and send it by mail.

While the printed version of FAFSA becomes available in the second week of October, the online version becomes accessible on January 1. Although the last date for the submission of FAFSA is June 30, but you can submit the form in either format as early as January 2. Most colleges and universities award financial aid on first come, first serve basis. Hence, to improve your chances of receiving financial aid, try to submit the FAFSA latest by March 1.

There are 102 questions in FAFSA, which are segregated into six sections. The primary aim of these questions is to retrieve your academic, personal and financial information. You would also be required to divulge your dependency status, colleges you want to receive your FAFSA results and your identification information. For filling out the FAFSA properly, you would need previous two year’s copies of your income tax returns.

Once you submit the FAFSA, the government will scrutinize it thoroughly, and then send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR typically includes a summary of your financial aid information and the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). The colleges enlisted in your FAFSA will also receive SAR. When you apply for admission in these colleges, you will be asked to submit additional financial information. Thereafter, your eligibility for financial aid will be calculated, and then you will be notified about the kind of financial aid package the college can award you.