Attention high school seniors (AND current college students):
You may have heard of the FAFSA before, maybe you know a little about it, about how it has questions about taxes and investments and other complicated things. Did you also know that NOW is the time to fill that thing out? Been putting it off? Not to worry, but now is the time to take action!
Here are some fast facts to help you focus on getting your FAFSA completed BEFORE your college’s deadlines:
Huh? What is FAFSA again?
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a government form that you fill out to apply for grants, work-study, and student loans. In order to be considered for federal financial aid for next school year (fall 2021 and spring 2022), now is the time to fill out your FAFSA (or renew, if you’re already in college!).
One more important thing you should know: if you qualify for the Pell Grant or other need-based aid, the earlier you can get your FAFSA completed, the more potential additional funding a college might have available to award to you. So, don’t delay!
But I don’t know where I want to go to college yet!
That’s okay! It takes time to make that decision. When you file the FAFSA, you can list up to 10 colleges that you’re considering. Assuming you also have already applied for admission to those schools, each college you list on the FAFSA will then be able to start working on creating a financial aid offer for you! In other words, to see how much financial aid you can get from each college, you need to submit your FAFSA!
Do I HAVE to fill out a FAFSA? Will I get financial aid taken away if my parents make too much money?
Ultimately, each college decides if they require a FAFSA, so check with the financial aid office. However, colleges generally do request that you file a FAFSA, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any grants and do not plan on taking out loans. In my experience, especially if you are going to receive a scholarship from a particular college due to academics/merit, a college might request that you do a FAFSA anyway. In regards to the second question, No! Filling out a FAFSA will not take away any financial aid from the student. All the FAFSA does is calculate if the student is eligible for need-based funding, such as grants, and determines what kind of loans the student can access. Remember, everyone who fills out a FAFSA will, at the very least, get access to loans.
NOTE: Some scholarships may ask to see your FAFSA results as a part of their application process!
Be sure to read the details of all the scholarships you are targeting, to see if they ask for a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a copy of your FAFSA information, and you generally get access to that about three days after submitting your FAFSA. Please plan accordingly!
Somebody said something about “Verification” and FAFSA. Should I worry?
Not at all! After you complete your FAFSA, the college’s financial aid office might ask for additional information so that they can fully process your FAFSA. For example, they might request a copy of Parent W-2 forms. The college will give you plenty of time to complete your verification process but again, none of this will happen until you file your FAFSA. After verification is complete, the college will then be able to generate a clearer award letter, and that will help you in your decision-making process.
Where do I begin and where can I get help? Is there a cost to all this?
Round up all necessary information from the FAFSA Checklist, including 2019 federal tax information.
Create your FSA ID username and password.
Complete your FAFSA online. It’s free!
If you would like FREE assistance with your FAFSA, you or your parent can contact your nearest EducationQuest Foundation office. One of our staff would be happy to set up a Virtual appointment with you, or answer any general questions you might have.
Good luck, everyone!