Filling out a FAFSA Form ASAP
- Updated: January 3, 2015
In order for an educational institution to determine the eligibility of college, state, or federal sponsored financial aid, which includes work-study programs, grants, and educational loans, an FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application must be submitted.
For students who need financial assistance in order to pay for a college education, the completion and submission of the FAFSA is by far the most important thing that needs to be done. After being submitted, the United States Department of Education will use the information provided to determine if a student qualifies for some type of aid.
Every year, approximately $150 billion in the form of work-study funds, grants, and low interest loans are awarded by the federal government, which in turn provides students an opportunity to earn a college degree. In addition, there are a number of colleges, universities, and state governments that depend on the FAFSA application to determine if a student is eligible for aid not associated with the federal government.
The problem is that some students believe filling out an FAFSA application is not necessary or beneficial. The truth is that anyone who is interested in going to college during the upcoming fall session and who needs financial assistance must submit an FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible.
Even though the actual deadline is not until either June or July, waiting can prove disastrous. The reason is that aid is granted on a first-come, first-serve basis so putting off submission reduces the chance of getting the best, if any financial assistance.
One of the biggest myths about the FAFSA is that the form is extremely complicated. While specific information is required, instructions for filling out the form and getting it submitted are relatively easy.
This form can make the difference between getting some type of financial aid and perhaps not going to college at all. Therefore, it is vital for students to take the necessary time to obtain an application, complete it, and get it submitted quickly. Regardless of how much money the parents make, what the student’s grades are, a past credit history, or the individual’s age, the FAFSA is extremely beneficial.
The FAFSA can be completed online by visiting the website for the Department of Education at www.fafsa-ed.gov or as a paper application available at the college or university of interest, as well as public libraries and even some high schools. Not only is the FAFSA offered to new students but for returning students who submitted an application in the past.
Both options are viable although completing and submitting the FAFSA online has a few advantages. For one thing, results are typically much faster when using the Department of Education link. In addition, students gain immediate access to a number of helpful resources for filling out the application and there is assurance the FAFSA was received.
As stated, the process is not overly difficult but it does require some time. The Department of Education requires a student to create a sign-in ID and password. In addition, virtually all of the financial information requested must be provided, which often includes information for one or both parents as well.
Once the FAFSA has been completed and submitted, the student will receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a specific amount of money the family would be responsible for paying toward the college education. Included is the Student Aid Report, which will be used by the college or university in determining the type of financial aid package that a student received.
The bottom line – getting the FAFSA completed and submitted immediately is essential in securing financial aid. With this, a student becomes eligible for the majority of programs available. With this type of financial assistance, students have a much easier time after graduation because they are not overwhelmed with loans that will take years to pay off.
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