What Is The FAFSA And How Does It Affect Me?

The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This federal form determines a student’s eligibility for financial aid for both incoming freshmen and current college students. Colleges begin accepting the application as of January 1 of every year. It will ask for current tax information, but you can estimate based on last year and make changes later.

Even if you do not think that you will qualify for financial aid, you need to fill out the form.  Most colleges also use this application for all scholarship purposes even if the scholarship is not based on  financial need.

Using your family’s finances as well as the student’s, a formula determines the families’ EFC number. This number is the “Expected Family Contribution” or how much money the student will have to come up with besides their loans and financial aid.

The report that is generated is called SAR, a Student Aid Report. It is a summary of the FAFSA responses. The FAFSA must be filled out as early as possible to allow the student the most financial aid available, both from federal funds and from the college’s own funds.

In filling out the FAFSA, be honest and careful as it can be the difference between getting money and not. Also, get it done as soon as possible since some colleges start processing applications on Feb. 1.  When their money is gone, it’s gone. Typically they do not wait until all the applications are in.

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