FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a form that is to be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. There is roughly $150 billion dollars of federal financial assistance in the form of grants, work-study, and loans for education beyond high school.
The FAFSA site is bigger and better than ever and it is worth your while to investigate it thoroughly. It links to four important sites with a wealth of information.
The biggest news this year is that the FAFSA filing application cycle has changed.
The 2017–18 season will begin earlier than previous FAFSA application cycles. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, you will be able to fill out the FAFSA for the 2017–18 school year. (In the past, families had to wait until January 1). It is important to fill this out early in order to meet school, scholarship, and state deadlines. You will no longer need to estimate income and tax information and will be able to retrieve your data directly from the IRS, which is simplified by using the provided IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Check out FAFSA Resources for 2017-18 for publications, videos, fact sheets and checklists.
Need to know how much your family will probably be expected to pay? Look at the FAFSA4caster.
Need to understand the basics of student aid? This linked site is valuable even if you have young children. It has information on:
- Preparing for college
- Checklists (regardless of student age)
- Types of aid and requirements
- Scholarship search (on trusted sites)
- Loans, interest rates, and fees
- Work study jobs
- Tax benefits on loans
- Avoiding scams
- Applying for aid
- How to repay loans (complete with a Repayment Estimator)
This resource walks you through the complete life cycle of college aid/loans and repayment plans.
FAFSA is also linked to CollegeScoreCard which allows you to compare college information for up to 10 schools, look at costs, as well as salary data for graduates after 10 of graduation.
If you need help, there is a Help navigation button at the upper right of every screen. There is also assistance via social media:
- Facebook: FederalStudent Aid – FAQ and training
- YouTube: FederalStudentAid – 3-5 minute videos on how to actually fill out the FAFSA
- Twitter Homepage – @FAFSA
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