To become eligible to receive federal financial aid to help you pay for college, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The purpose of the FAFSA is to determine how much your family can reasonably afford to contribute to pay for your college education. Once this information is submitted, each school will submit a financial aid package based on your financial need and the school’s resources. FAFSA forms are released in January of each year.
Why Do I Need to File a FAFSA?
Even if you do not believe that you will be eligible for financial aid, you may be surprised. Completing a FAFSA may open up doors to many educational funding opportunities. The federal government offers more than $150 billion in loans, grants and work study programs each year. These programs are the largest source of student financial aid in the country. Failure to submit a FAFSA will make you ineligible for many of the available federal, state and college financial aid that is available to students.
Where to Apply
The FAFSA is available online at the FAFSA government website (www.fafsa.ed.gov). There you are able to fill out the form online, print out a PDF version of the form, or request to have a copy mailed to you.
It is a good idea to file your FAFSA as early as possible to increase your potential to receive the maximum amount of financial aid. Fill out the FAFSA form in its entirety, double-checking to make sure that all of the information is accurate. Any inaccuracies or delays with the form could prevent you from receiving financial assistance.
Pay close attention to deadlines. Because state and college deadlines vary, it is important to know the deadline for each school you are interested in. Check the school’s website or contact the financial aid office to find out about the deadline to file a FAFSA.
For more tips about filling out grant applications and forms visit our page on writing grants.