“The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.”
I decided to write this story because as a college student I had so many nightmares with Financial Aid, and I wished I was introduced to the process earlier. I am here to show you what is important, and to ease the process a bit for you. Today we will just discuss the form itself, and now is the time to get it done. The ordeal at the Financial Aid office is another ball game. Great news though! I’ll have an expert who works in Financial Aid as a guest on my Podcast and will be able to answer any questions you may have. Email questions to; firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a couple of changes for the 2017-2018 school year.
- Students are now able to submit a FAFSA® earlier. Students have been able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA since Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date is a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule. The FAFSA became available Jan. 1 as in previous years.)
- Students now report earlier income information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students are required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) must report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.
The following table provides a summary of key dates for the early FAFSA submission timeframe and reporting of earlier tax information.
The first step in completing your FAFSA is to complete a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This username-password combination will allow you to fill out the form online and access information about your financial aid for years to come, including looking up any student loans you have to repay after graduation. If you’re a dependent student, your parent or guardian will need his or her own FSA ID.
You were able to create a FSA ID before the FAFSA opened on Oct. 1. Since it is after that date, use your FSA ID to begin the online FAFSA, which includes about 100 questions. Don’t worry about finishing it in one sitting, as you can save your progress for up to 45 days. Submitting the FAFSA online is the fastest way to apply for aid, but you can also print out a paper version and mail it in.
The application has the word “free” in its name for a reason: There’s no cost to submit it. Make sure you have all of your Parent/Guardian’s tax information, that will be needed to see what type of Funding you will qualify for. You also have options at your Financial Institution for Lending options.
Different Types of Funding:
- Grants – Grants are a type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Offered by the federal and state government, as well as by some institutions, grants may be merit-based, need-based or student-specific.
- Scholarships – Like grants, scholarships do not require repayment. They are typically offered by individual institutions and private organizations and can be awarded based on a number of factors, such as academic performance, athletic ability, religious affiliation, and race, among others. In order to apply for a scholarship, you will often be asked to write an essay.
- Private Loans – Private loans are granted by private banks and may help to bridge the gap between the cost of your education and the amount of financial aid you receive from the government. Eligibility for private loans often depends on your credit score, and private loans tend to have higher interest rates than loans that the government offers.
- Federal Loans -The two main types of federal loans available for college students include:Subsidized Loans– Subsidized student loans are available for students who have demonstrated financial need. They have slightly better terms than unsubsidized student loans, because the US Department of Education pays your interest while you are in school and for a six month grace period after you graduate.
Unsubsidized Loans– Unsubsidized loans are available to students regardless of financial need. Students are responsible for repaying interest during all periods.
- Work Study – A work-study program is a work program where you can earn money that helps you pay for school. Work-study programs provide students with federally funded jobs on campus or at other approved locations.