Wondering how much student aid you might get through the FAFSA? Check out the FAFSA4Caster! It's a great tool to get an idea of the financial picture BEFORE applying for a college or completing the FAFSA. Go to Fafsa.ed.gov and click on the FAFSA4Caster!
If you are planning on going to college, you and your parents will be required to fill out the FAFSA which will let you know if you qualify for free federal money to go to college. It will also help determine in your qualify for student loans and work study. Most colleges require you to fill it out, even if you know you will not qualify. Another fun fact (sarcasm) is that until you turn 24 years old, you will have to submit parent information even if you are living out on your own. Details can be found at www.FAFSA.ed.gov. The first step to this process is obtaining an FSA ID, much like a PIN #. Both parent and student will need one to fill out and sign the FAFSA. We will be having a work night for the FAFSA so it would be a good idea to get your FSA ID now!
You can create an FSA ID when logging into certain ED websites, including this one. Create an FSA ID now.
The FSA ID process consists of three main steps:
Most people believe they need financial assistance to pay for college. Because there is so much need and funds are limited, the federal government has set policies to measure need. Most financial aid is based on need.
Need-based means that your family's financial resources, as measured by a formula established by the federal government, are not sufficient to cover your educational costs. This formula analyzes a family's income and assets to determine its Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward the cost of college.
The federal government's definition of financial need compares your income and savings to the cost of the college you plan to attend. Therefore, if you choose to attend a local community college, your financial need may be small, while if you choose to attend a higher priced college, your financial need may be large.
Once you determine your financial need, the college you plan to attend will help you identify sources of financial aid to meet your need. If you apply for assistance early, college staff may be more successful in finding financial aid.
Most financial aid packages include a variety of types of aid, including:
Need-based financial aid can come from:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The federal government uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to compute need. Whatever source you are applying to, you probably will need to complete the FAFSA (opens new window).
If you provided a working email address when you applied, you'll get an email within a few days with a secure link to your FAFSA results—the Student Aid Report (SAR)—on the Web. Within a few weeks of filing your FAFSA, you will receive a paper SAR. This provides information from your FAFSA and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Financial Aid Packages
Most colleges arrange financial aid packages for students who have financial need. The rules for these packages are based on federal financial aid rules.
To be eligible to receive a student financial aid package, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and be enrolled, accepted for enrollment, or attending at least half-time in an approved post-secondary educational institution.
More Information about Financial Aid
Talk to your counselor or college financial aid office about:
Begin 3 to 6 months before the deadline.
Financial assistance to attend college comes in many forms. Most people use a combination of these forms of aid to pay for college.
Federal Aid Programs
The federal government requires students to complete the U.S. Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a basic application for its financial aid programs. You can get one from a high school or college for the appropriate year (usually available in November), or you can visit studentaid.ed.gov (opens new window) for general student aid information and the online FAFSA. It will be processed free of charge.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
These grants are provided to a limited number of undergraduate students with financial need. Preference is given to students with exceptional financial need. FSEOGs are awarded by colleges.
Federal Pell Grant
Financial assistance awarded by the federal government on the basis of need. TheStudent Aid Report (SAR) informs students of their Pell Grant eligibility. The grant may be used toward tuition, room and board, books, or other educational costs and requires no repayment.
Federal Perkins Loan
Loans funded by the federal government and awarded by the institution. The loans feature low interest rates and are repayable over an extended period of time.
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program
Provides both Stafford Loans for Students and PLUS Loans for parents. Eligible students and parents borrow directly from the federal government at participating schools. Direct Loans also include Direct Consolidation Loans. Repayment of these loans is made to the U.S. Department of Education.
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
Provides both Stafford Loans for students and PLUS Loans for parents through participating private lenders. FFEL also provides for Federal Consolidation Loans. Repayment of these loans is made to the bank or other private lender that made the loan.
Subsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loans—are awarded on the basis of financial need. Recipients will not be charged interest until they begin repayment.
Unsubsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loans—are not awarded on the basis of need. Interest accrues from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full.
PLUS Loans (for parents)—provide low interest loans to credit-approved parents of eligible undergraduate students. Repayment typically must begin 60 days after loan is fully disbursed.
Consolidation Loans—allow students or parents the opportunity to combine several types of federal loans into a single loan with one monthly payment.
A government-supported financial aid program coordinated through financial aid offices in which an eligible student (based on need) may work part-time while attending class, generally in career-related jobs.