FAFSA - Free Application for Student Aid

Paying for college can be challenging for many families, but many students are eligible for financial aid, student loans, grants, scholarships, and other sources of funding. FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid, is one option for students who cannot cover the costs of their education from other sources.

FAFSA is managed by the federal government and calculates the level of need of each family or individual based on income, employment status, and household need. The FAFSA process takes only a few hours and approval grants a generous sum of student loans for higher education.

About FAFSA

The free application for federal student aid or FAFSA is offered by the U.S. Department of Education and can be filled out online and submitted electronically or mailed directly to the financial aid office. Most students now take advantage of the convenience of the FAFSA online process, as this can save both time and money in the application process.

Completing FAFSA

The Federal Student Aid deadlines are between July 1 and June 30 of each year, but each state has its own set of deadlines and requirements. Checking the actual dates with the financial aid administrator will ensure you submit the FAFSA application at the right time, and can receive funds before they run out for your school or state:

You will need to:

  • Check eligibility for financial aid. Eligibility requirements rarely change for FAFSA applicants. Among other requirements, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED Certificate, be enrolled or accepted at a participating school, and have a valid social security number.
  • Submit information on bank accounts, driver's license numbers, social security numbers, and income tax records.
  • Fill in all items on the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. Some people prefer to write down their entries on a printed version of the worksheet, and then enter them into the form separately. However, filing FAFSA online speeds up the entire process.
  • Apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will need to visit www.pin.ed.gov and select 'Apply for a PIN' as part of the process. The PIN number will serve as your electronic signature on the final FAFSA application, and can be delivered to you immediately online, via e-mail, or in the mail. Alternatively, you may sign and date a printed copy of the FAFSA worksheet and mail it in; however, this can delay the entire process a few weeks, so submitting an electronic signature with a PIN is recommended.
  • Save and submit FAFSA after all fields have been completed.

A saved FAFSA application can be reviewed and edited up to 45 days after beginning it, and can even be edited during processing if necessary. You can also check the status of the application between 1-3 weeks after submission.

Applying for federal student aid is a simple process, and many students and families benefit from the student loans available with the program. Making sure you meet all deadlines will ensure your application is approved during the school year you most need it, and help you manage the costs of higher education with ease.

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