Students interested in receiving federal financial aid.
The form is submitted to the Department of Education to determine a student’s eligibility to receive federal student loans and how much they can borrow based on their information.
By submitting an FAFSA, prospective students gain access to the largest potential source of student aid available to them.
The FAFSA Process
Students can complete and submit their applications for free through the FAFSA online portal.
They will begin by creating an FAFSA ID which will allow them to access all of their financial aid information going forward as well as electronically sign their student loan documents.
FAFSA requires students to disclose both their demographic and financial information and allows them to submit the results to up to ten schools once their application is processed. (In 2016, FAFSA was updated so as not to allow schools that receive the results to view other schools on the application list.)
Once a student submits an FAFSA, they will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) and an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). These reports are used together to determine their eligibility for federal aid based on their FAFSA information.
Any school listed on their FAFSA submission will also have access to their SAR results. Schools then use this information to create financial aid packages for incoming students.
Common Myths About FAFSA and Eligibility
There are several myths that many potential students have regarding why they wouldn’t be eligible for student aid, such as:
- They (or their parents) make too much money
- Their grades aren’t high enough
- They are now too old
- The process is too complicated and not worth the effort
This results in many students choosing not even to apply.
In reality, most students qualify for some form of student aid and should, therefore, take the time to complete and submit an FAFSA. Choosing not to may result in students missing out on significant federal aid they would’ve otherwise been eligible for.
Because of this, all students should fill out and complete an FAFSA regardless of their individual circumstances.
There are several different FAFSA deadlines that students must meet in order to remain eligible for student aid. The Federal Student Aid website helps students stay up-to-date on all deadlines for the current year as well as any changes to the FAFSA application process.
(Also keep in mind that individual states also offer student aid and have their own FAFSA submission deadlines.) In general, it’s a good idea to submit your FAFSA sooner rather than later to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines and expedite the application process.
Mandatory Annual Renewals
It’s also important to know that once you submit an FAFSA and are approved for federal student aid, you must also complete and submit a new FAFSA form every year to remain eligible.
Failure to submit a new form may result in a loss of eligibility benefits, so make sure to renew every year and follow-up to ensure your renewal was processed successfully.
Access to federal student aid is one of the most valuable opportunities available to prospective students.
Regardless of your individual circumstances or whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, the potential benefits from submitting an FAFSA is something every student should take advantage of!
If you’re a prospective student interested in federal student aid, you can begin the FAFSA application process here.
What is FAFSA and why does it matter?
FAFSA is an application that allows students access to the largest pool of student aid available for their student loans. To become eligible for federal student loans, every student is required to complete and submit an FAFSA.
What types of student aid does filling out an FAFSA help me with?
Filling out an FAFSA helps students obtain federal funding for their student loans.
What is my FAFSA ID and why is it important?
In May 2015, FAFSA PINs were replaced with FAFSA IDs. These identifiers consist of a username and password and will be used going forward to access all of your student aid information as well as sign documents electronically.
How do I set up my FAFSA ID?
Setting up an FAFSA ID is very simple, just click here and fill out the required information and a new ID will be created for you.
What information will I need to complete an FAFSA?
Completing an FAFSA requires you to input your personal data as well as you (or your family’s) most recent tax information, W-2’s, and bank statements. This information will be used to determine how much student aid you are eligible for. When it comes to your tax information, recent changes in the FAFSA form allow you just to click a button and have your most current tax information from the IRS inserted automatically.
When do I have to submit my FAFSA?
There are several deadlines to meet when completing an FAFSA and each state typically has their own deadlines for student aid as well. It’s important to know that some colleges and universities handle student aid on a first come, first serve basis so the earlier you can submit your FAFSA, the better.
Even if you miss a deadline or apply late, you may still be eligible for federal aid as FAFSA also allows students to receive funds retroactively.The best approach is to know the exact deadlines based on the state you’ll be attending college or university and then submit your FAFSA as early as possible.
When will I find out how much student aid I will receive?
After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which will be a summary of all your FAFSA data. An SAR will also be sent to each of the schools you selected to determine how much student aid you are eligible for. If accepted, these schools will then create financial aid packages for you based on your SAR information. The time it takes to receive your student aid packages varies by school and when you apply, but typically takes between two weeks and several months.
Why do I have to submit a new FAFSA every year?
The Department of Education requires that a new FAFSA is submitted every year to make sure your information is up-to-date and that you remain eligible for student aid. A failure to re-submit may result in a loss of your eligibility benefits.
What are some other sources of student aid?
Student aid typically comes from four places: the federal government, the state government, educational institutions, and private organizations. This aid can be in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, work-study funds, and tuition assistance.
While the largest pool of funds, the federal government, is accessed by submitting an FAFSA, additional state funds can be found by contacting your state’s financial aid agency.Many individual colleges and universities also provide institutional financial aid for their students which can be accessed by contacting your school’s financial aid office.
There are also opportunities to receive student aid from private institutions such as corporations, religious organizations, professional or service organizations, and much more. This help often comes in the form of individual loans or scholarships.
There are numerous sources of private student aid available, many of which you can find on: