A College Student’s Guide to the FAFSA
A FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is something you will have to fill out every year if you want financial aid in college. Most grant holders require FAFSA information before releasing money to a student, but a lot of scholarship committees have started asking for the same. This begs the question: What is the point of a FAFSA? What does it tell other people that makes it so important in getting financial aid? Let’s take a look at this application a little more closely so you can learn why you have to fill out a FAFSA every year.
What Is FAFSA Used for?
For the most part, a FAFSA is meant to help the government establish how desperate your financial need is for college. They do this by assessing your tax information or the tax information for your parents. If you are married, this assessment will be based on the combined income levels of you and your spouse. If you are not, the assessment will be based on information from your parents. After assessing the different information from your tax returns, the government calculates an expected family contribution for you. The lower that number is, the more money you could get to pay for school.
How Do I Fill out a FAFSA?
You can fill out your FAFSA online or through a paper form you can get through your school. Most people just do the application on the web because it processes faster that way and is much more convenient to use. The site stores your information from previous years, so you don’t have to enter quite as much information year after year.
You can fill out your FAFSA without your tax information (or your parent’s income information), as well as personal data like your address and Social Security Number. Everything is thoroughly explained on the application, so you just have to fill out the sections one by one.
What Happens If I Lie on My FAFSA?
If you are thinking about lying on your FAFSA, don’t. Your information will be checked and double checked to determine authenticity. Your school may ask you to send in a copy of your tax forms, so there is no reason to say you made less money than you did last year. If you remain honest from the start, you will have the best chance at securing financial aid as a whole.
When Should I Fill out My FAFSA?
Some forms of federal aid are only available in limited quantities, so try to fill out your application as soon as possible. If you do not have your tax information yet, you can approximate your earnings or let the form do so from your previous year’s tax return. You can always go back and edit this later on. If you get your app in early enough, you could snag enough money to pay for most of your college education.
How Much Does a FAFSA Cost, and How Long Does It Take to Complete?
A FAFSA is free to fill out, and it should not take more than 30 minutes of your time. The first application is usually the most time consuming because you have to enter all of your information in by hand. Next year, most of this will be pre-filled for you, so all you have to do is update contact details, school info, income information, etc. Get started with your FAFSA right away, and you can lock in much-needed financial aid for college.