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Key to Know: the FAFSA is important for lots of student aid programs, -federal, state and private. Fill it out, the sooner the better. The details:

The FAFSA—or Free Application for Federal Student Aid—is an application that you as an undergraduate or graduate student may fill out each your in order to determine whether you are eligible for financial aid to students. It is also the means by which the government determines eligibility for Pell Grants.

While the name might imply federal aid only, the FAFSA is used by nine federal programs and by 605 state programs and a large majority of institutional aid programs. So regardless of what scholarships you are interested in, this application should be at the top of your list to complete and submit!

When to Submit Your FAFSA

The Department of Education begins accepting FAFSA’s as of January first every year for the upcoming academic year. Though the application period is 18-months most aid gets allocated on a first come, first served basis. So you should submit your FAFSA as early as possible in order to get the maximum possible aid. If you have completed one in prior years you can submit a renewal as long as no information has changed. Otherwise your data must be updated annually.

What Information is Required for FAFSA

The FAFSA is pretty long and currently (2010-2011 academic year) asks 130 questions relating to you and your family’s assets, income, and dependency. A formula is used based on your answers to determine how much the family is expected to be able to contribute (the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution). The EFC is based on many factors including household size, income, number of students from household in college, and assets (not including retirement and 401(k) funds). It is assumed, whether it is true or not, that the family will contribute to the student’s education. The FAFSA does not ask any questions about the applicant or family’s race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or religion.

How Do I Apply

Everything you need to know is at FAFSA. Be sure NOT to go to — see our Scholarship Scams page!). Once on the FAFSA page, just click the Start Here button and you're on your way.

fafsa.txt · Last modified: 2011/02/22 20:24 by admin