The Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA)
Financial aid administrators an guidance counselors from around the country agree that the following tips speed up the application process:
- What is FAFSA?
FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. Use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as Pell Grants, student loans, Oregon Opportunity Grant, and college work-study. In addition, most states and schools use FAFSA information to award their financial aid. For introductory instructions on how to complete the FAFSA online or on paper, go to Completing the FAFSA at http://studentaid.ed.gov/completefafsa.
- Important: Read the instructions!
Many questions are straight forward, like your social security number. But many questions are asked specifically for purposes of student financial aid. Common words like “household,” investments,” and even “parent” may have special meaning. Read all instructions carefully. If you have questions you may contact your counselor at SAHS.
- Apply early
The first day to file your FAFSA is October 1st of your senior year. You and your parent will use your prior year’s federal tax return to complete it. File your FAFSA at https://www.fafsa.ed.gov. State and school deadlines will vary and tend to be early. Check with then to find out their exact deadline dates. The U.S. Department of Education will process your FAFSA if received on or before the deadline. However, to actually receive aid, your school must have correct, complete FAFSA information.
- Get a FAFSA ID
An FSA ID consists of a Username and Password and allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically to access FSA websites. To create a FAFSA ID, log on to https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm.
- Complete your tax return
We recommend that you and your student complete your tax return before filling out your FAFSA. This will make completing the FAFSA easier. If you have not filed your tax return yet, you can still submit your FAFSA but you must provide income and tax data. Once you and your student file your tax return, you must correct any income or tax information that changed.
- Why does the FAFSA ask so many question?
Your FAFSA responses are entered into a formula (known as Federal Methodology), which is required by the Higher Education Act of 1965. The result is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC is a number that measures your family’s financial strength. It is subtracted from the Cost of Attendance at the school(s) you plan to attend which determines your eligibility for federal student aid.
- How much aid do I get?
The school use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package (grants, loans, and/or work-study) to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your Expected Family Contribution and your school’s cost of attendance, as determined by the school. If you or your family have special circumstances that impact your financial situation, contact your school’s financial aid office. Some examples include; unusual medical or dental expenses, or a large change in income form last year to this year.
- When do I get the aid?
Your financial aid will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is returned to you for your other expenses, such as books.