FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
According to FAFSA.ed.gov, to qualify you must:
- Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States.
- Have a valid Social Security Number. (Students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau are exempt from this requirement.)
- Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling. If you don’t, you may still be eligible for federal student aid if you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012. Go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/basic-criteria for additional information.
- Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
- Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering; see www.sss.gov for more information.)
- Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans). If you have such a conviction, you must complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to determine if you are eligible for aid or partially eligible for aid.
What does FAFSA offer?
Many types of federal student aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant (money you don’t have to pay back) or subsidized loans (you do have to begin to pay back once you graduate) where the government pays the interest while you are in college, also a primary requirement is to demonstrate financial need. Additionally, once you have a bachelor’s degree or a first professional degree, you are generally not eligible for Pell or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).
Who can answer specific questions about my FAFSA?
The financial aid office at your college or call 1-800-433-3243
What steps do I need to consider to apply?
- Have your most recent tax information ready (or your parents if you are their dependent)
- Have your social security number ready and your parents’ (if your parent/s don’t have one type in all 000000000)
- Have your school code ready (all colleges and universities have one)
- Create an FSA ID which you need to keep in a safe place! This is the number that will allow you to sign your FAFSA and verify your account
- Be sure you are using this website to apply for FAFSA: https://fafsa.ed.gov/
Disclaimer: There are certain situations that would disqualify you or limit your eligibility for financial aid through FAFSA which can include being incarcerated, drug convictions, or being on probation/parole. For more information on this topic visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/criminal-convictions#incarcerated
NOTE: It is advised that you submit your FAFSA as soon as possible to have better chances at a higher amount of financial aid. For deadline information visit: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm
- These are scholarships that are not provided by any government institution therefore funds come from either individual, foundations, companies, etc. This is an option if your tuition is not covered fully (or at all) by federal grants and or federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans. To see our list click here
This is an option that people explore after they have filled out FAFSA and applied for all possible scholarships. FAFSA also offers loan options, in addition to grants. Here is what you should consider when thinking about loans:
Subsidized Loan - Perhaps your best option if you are considering borrowing money to pay for college. This type of loan has interest that is paid by federal government while you are in college and offered through FAFSA application.
Unsubsidized Loan - The interest on this type of loan begins to accumulate as soon as they disburse money to you. Therefore, you often times pay more in the long run, remember that you will probably not have to make payments until you graduate but with this one you will have to pay more.
Perkins Loans - Available to undergraduate and graduate students that is a program through the federal government (need to fill out FAFSA to determine eligibility). The funds are from the federal government and your school also contributes to a portion- they make the determination on how much is offered. This loan currently has an interest of 5% and this rate can be changed by congress.
Available to everyone regardless of status:
Student Loans at a Bank - This is a type of private loan where no federal forms such as FAFSA are required and an option for students who either did not qualify for FAFSA, or did not get enough money to cover their tuition. If you or your parents already have a bank account make an appointment to see what types of options they have for you and ask about interest rates! This is what will determine how much you will pay in the long run.
Student Loans at a Credit Union - Similar to a bank, sometimes credit unions offer lower interest rates, we recommend inquiring with a few and weigh your options before you make a commitment.