Seniors, you’ve been hearing a lot about the FAFSA these days, but there is some key information that you may not be aware of when it comes to completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Becoming familiar with how the process works and what information is required from you and your parents will make the FAFSA filing process a whole lot easier!
Do you need money for college?
The FAFSA is your application to be considered for grants, work-study, and federal student loans. The form is open now for the 2023-24 academic year, so you’re submitting it almost a year before starting college. It’s always best to get the FAFSA submitted as soon as possible to be considered for the best financial aid package you’re eligible to receive.
Before completing the FAFSA…
You’ll need to create a student aid account at StudentAid.gov. Both the student and one custodial parent will each need a unique account. Write those usernames and passwords down and keep them in a safe place as they contain personal information that you don’t want others to get their hands on! The usernames and passwords will be used for logging into the FAFSA and other related tasks.
Pro-tip for students: Do not use your school email address when creating your account since you won’t have access to that email after graduating from high school. If you don’t have a personal email, now is the time to create one for all things college related.
If your parent has an existing account, they don’t need to create a new one. Just make sure they confirm that they can get into the account as some are locked out due to security reasons.
What information is required for the FAFSA?
There are approximately 108 questions on the FAFSA that need to be answered. Use our Checklist to make sure you gather everything you’ll need to complete and submit your FAFSA. Student information is always needed, and parent information is required if you’re a dependent student. On the second page of the FAFSA Checklist, you’ll find questions to determine if you’re a dependent or independent student. If you answer “no” to all of the questions, you’re considered dependent and must provide parent information on the FAFSA.
What can I expect after the FAFSA is submitted?
Approximately three-five days after you submit the FAFSA you will receive an email from Federal Student Aid. The email confirms that your information was sent to the college(s) you listed on the FAFSA. The email also provides a link to the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is important for several reasons:
- Indicates if you are eligible for Pell Grant
- Announces if you are selected for verification
- Required for some need-based scholarships
What is verification?
A small percentage of students who file the FAFSA will be selected for verification to ensure that information is being reported correctly. If selected, don’t panic – it doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong! The college(s) will request documentation of some of your FAFSA information. Watch your email and student portals for directions from the college(s) and respond ASAP as colleges will not offer financial aid until the verification process is completed.
Expect Financial Aid Offers
The colleges you listed on your FAFSA will notify you with a detailed list of the types and amounts of financial aid they’re offering. These offers will come via postal mail, email, or your college-based student portal. Keep in mind, you will only receive offers from the colleges that accepted you for admission.
Contact the EducationQuest office nearest you to ask questions or to schedule a FREE appointment to get help completing the FAFSA.
By Jacquie Butler