WARNING: Beware of bogus “professional” filing services that charge you a fee to fill out a Free application. I am writing this blog to simply point you in the right direction and save you from throwing away your hard-earned money. The following is a brief overview of FASFA and the application process.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) is an office of the US Department of Education. This office processes student aid in the way of grants, loans, and work-study funds for students attending college or career school. The FASFA is the application that all inquiring students must submit to the US Department of Education to determine eligibility to receive federal, state, or college-provided monies. This aid is for low-income students and families. Therefore, the government will assist you with this process for free.
1. Your first step is to visit fafsa.ed.gov. Operated by the US Department of Education, consider this site to be your clearinghouse of information, guidance, and answers to your questions- all for free. Here is where you will check the status of your application, research potential colleges, and read the most recent updates and announcements.
2. Download the free 88-page PDF titled Completing the FAFSA® 2015–16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Every detail, every step, everything you need to know is right here, so tell those “professional” services to stop insulting your intelligence and get to reading. Students and parents would bode well to know the details within this document.
3. Pay attention to deadlines. There are federal, state, and even college deadlines that you must comply with. Deadlines are different per entity. Moreover, the sooner you apply, the more options you will have available to you. Visit fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines and enter your state of legal residence and school year for which you are applying. For example, I entered Texas 2015-2016. I got the following results:
- June 30, 2015 for all online applications
- Check with your financial aid administrator for State deadlines
- Check with college you are interested in for individual college deadlines
4. On May 10, 2015, the PIN was replaced by the FSA ID. Stay abreast of announcements and details by checking the government’s web site often. The new FSA ID consists of a user-created username and password to electronically access personal information on Federal Student Aid Web sites, including FASFA on the Web.
5. College Board (producers of the SAT and ACT) has a helpful webinar on completing the FAFSA called How to Complete the FAFSA.
6. KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS: Financial assistance is authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. That means home schooled students also qualify for these financial assistance programs. For more on Title IV, see my blog, Title IV and the Home schooled Student.
The quest for financial assistance is competitive at best. According to College Board Statistics, “Approximately two-thirds of full-time students pay for college with the help of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Approximately 57% of financial aid dollars awarded to undergraduates are in the form of grants, and 34% take the form of federal loans.”
It pays to do your homework. Literally.
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