The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is used to apply for federal student financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study. It is also used by most states and schools to award non-federal student financial aid. Remember, this application is FREE. There is no need to pay anyone to help you fill it out. Many schools have FAFSA workshops on campus where you can get help.
Federal Student Aid Information Center 800-433-3243
You can fill out the FAFSA online at this address www.fafsa.ed.gov
Completing the FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. Your information is processed and an electronic copy of your information is sent to all the schools you list in the application. The information generated includes an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the product of a federal formula used to calculate your family’s financial strength. The schools use the EFC to prepare a financial aid package to meet your financial need. Other sources of aid will require that you complete a FAFSA along with their applications.
You can fill out a paper based application and mail it in, or submit electronically by visiting FASFA on-line at www.fasfa.ed.gov.
1. Read and Complete the Application Thoroughly
Many questions are straightforward, like your Social Security Number or your date of birth. But others require you to read the instructions to make sure you answer the question correctly. Words like "household," "investments," and even "parent" are specifically defined for purposes of student financial aid. Be sure to read the instructions, enter all the information requested and sign the back page.
2. Apply Early
Some state and school based aid may have earlier deadlines than federal based aid. To ensure that your financial aid package contains support from as many sources as possible, apply as soon as possible after January 1. The last day to turn in the application is usually March 2nd. The sooner you start the better.
Important: You do not need to file your tax return before you submit the FAFSA! Filing your tax return with the IRS first makes completing the FAFSA easier. If any income or tax information changes after filing your tax return you can submit the new information during the corrections process.
3. Wait for your Student Aid Report (SAR)
You will receive a FAFSA correction form within 4-6 weeks. Your correction form will ask you to clarify certain answers and provide proof to your financial aid office. Read the corrections thoroughly and adjust your answers if needed. Return the correction form, then you will receive your SAR.
4. You have received your SAR, now what?
At this time, the schools you entered on the FAFSA will receive your information. Schools that admit you will send your Financial Aid package. You need to review the package and call the financial aid office with any questions. If your financial situation changes, be sure to inform the financial aid office.