Did you know?
The federal government provides an annual budget of $32 billion each year. Although, students only receive $30 billion of the funds. Also, the unclaimed portion of these grants totals almost $2 billion each year.
That’s a lot of free financial aid for college that goes unclaimed each year. There is no clear explanation for this. but it could be because these college students are not aware of all the FAFSA facts. These facts are necessary to know during the process of receiving aid.
The college budget is here to help you! We rounded up 11 FAFSA facts for you to help you learn more about receiving financial aid for college.
1 What Is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is also known as FAFSA. The application is a form for college applicants to use to apply for financial aid. The federal government use FAFSA to determine who is eligible for financial aid.
Many states and universities will use the information when determining financial aid eligibility. After the process of completing the FAFSA application, college applicants will then know what they’re eligible for. The financial aid includes grants, loans, and scholarships.
2 It’s Important for You to Start Your Process of Applying for FAFSA Early
The FAFSA application period begins October 1 of the year before the award year and ends 19 months later. Therefore, the deadline for FAFSA applications is June 30 of the award year.
Let’s provide an example for next school year for you to understand better. The FAFSA application period for the 2022-2023 school year would be October 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
You should fill out the FAFSA as early as possible because many states have their deadlines earlier than June 30. Also, many of them only offer financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
There’s also the possibility you’ll forget to fill out something during the application process. You might even have to submit something to finish. So, you should submit the FAFSA application as early as possible to avoid any delays in receiving your financial aid.
3 There’s Help for You to Fill Out the FAFSA Application
When you fill out your FAFSA application, know that you’re not alone. If you need help understanding the questions in the application, there are resources available. Please refer to the following sections to learn more:
- You can text “FAFSA” to 33-55-77 for quick questions
- At the end of the senior year, many high schools offer teachers the chance to guide students throughout the application
- The FAFSA website provides resources for many questions
- Some states offer resources on their websites for information on FAFSA
- Colleges often provide days where students can come fill the application out with guidance
It is sometimes stressful and confusing to complete a FAFSA application. Due to this, many free resources are available for students who need help understanding eligibility rules and providing income information. It would help if you kept on top of where you can receive support from your community.
4 You Should Apply Even if You Think You Won’t Qualify
Many families assume they do not qualify for financial aid. However, you may be surprised to learn many families who have a high income can still receive FAFSA benefits.
Honestly, college is costly, and you may find your specific school’s full-year cost will qualify you for aid. No one can predict how their financial situation will compare to the cost of the school their child wants to attend. Colleges distribute aid based on your EFC and how it compares to the school’s financial aid policy.
Don’t rule out filing the FAFSA until you know how your EFC compares to the college’s cost of attendance. You must research to know how much of a college’s financial need is met.
5 Some Major Changes Are Coming to the Application
For years, higher education advocates have been pushing for policy updates that they claim to eliminate unnecessary complexity in the financial aid application process. The FAFSA Simplication Act is to bring some changes to the financial aid process soon due to this.
Changes won’t be fully implemented until Oct. 1, 2022, when the FAFSA for the 2023-24 school year will be available. However, here are some of the impacts.
- Shorter FAFSA application process
- Student Aid Index replaces Expected Family Contribution
- Expansion of eligibility for PELL grants
- Unemployment during a national emergency can affect your eligibility
- Elimination of lifetime limits on federal direct subsidy loans
- Updates to FAFSA’s navigation within the application
Keeping up to date with these updates is critical since they could affect your eligibility for financial aid. If you would like to stay up to date with FAFSA’s changes, you can do so by visiting their website here.
6 Remember to Create Your FSA ID
FSA IDs act as digital legal signatures, which you can use to complete and update your application. You need to create an FSA ID, which is your user name and password for your account if you haven’t already done so.
For dependent students, the FAFSA process will require the parents to use their own FSA ID. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create your account early, even before you are ready to complete the FAFSA. It can take up to three days before the FSA ID can be used so that this step can prevent delays in the application.
Also, don’t forget to write your FSA ID down and put it somewhere save. You don’t want to risk having to start the process all over due to not remembering your ID!
7 These Are the Benefits of FAFSA You Can Receive
It is often surprising to discover the types of benefits one can receive from FAFSA. Many people are only familiar with student loans and pell grants. Here are some of the financial aid options you have through FAFSA:
- Grants: Pell Grant, Teach Grant, FSEOG, etc
- Student Loans: Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and PLUS
- Work-Study Jobs
- Military Aid
- International Study Aid
- Tax benefits
- Training vouchers
You can see there are many financial aid options available when you apply for FASFA. Although, your unique situation will determine the kind of benefits you receive under FASFA.
8 Have All Your Documents Ready to Complete the FAFSA Application
Using the IRS data retrieval tool, applicants can automatically upload their tax data into the FAFSA form. With the tool, applicants can ensure that their tax information for themselves and their parents is accurate.
However, you will still need to have some documents on hand to fill out the application. Before you begin, make sure you have the following documents available:
- State ID or driver’s license
- For non-citizens of the United States, prove an alien registration number
- Information about independent students’ federal tax returns
- Parents of applicants with dependents: tax information
- When filing jointly and separately, information about taxes for spouses
- Verification of all untaxed income, such as child support or veterans benefits
- Account balances on checking and savings accounts
- Investment returns on stocks, bonds, or business assets
- A list of schools you’re thinking about attending
If you’re filling your FAFSA application at a school, then it’s best to call ahead to see what documents you’ll need to bring with you. You don’t want to risk having your application delayed due to missing one document for verification.
9 Try to Avoid These Mistakes on Your Application to Avoid Delay
You know the government uses the information you put into the FAFSA form to determine the benefits you’ll receive. Unfortunately, many students make simple mistakes on the form that ends up costing them to miss out on some financial aid that can significantly help them. Review the following below to make sure you don’t make these mistakes when filling out the FASFA application:
- Forgetting their FSA ID information
- Never filling the FAFSA application out
- Filing an incomplete form
- Not putting every school you’re considering attending
- Not ranking their school’s choice correctly
- Waiting until the end to fill out the application
- Not doing the FAFSA renewal process
- Incomplete Special Circumstances Form after FAFSA submission
When applying for financial aid, many students make the costly error of not asking for help when they need it. However, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you don’t understand something. Assistance is available from the Federal Student Aid Information Center by calling (800) 433-3243.
Furthermore, you can find a variety of college-related topics on the BudgetCollege blog. One of our primary goals is to help you save for college. For some tips, please read our blog post here.
10 Parents Here Is What You Need to Know About the FAFSA Application
Parents should not be left out of the FAFSA facts either. There is essential information for you to know if you have a dependent student getting ready for college.
Parents will have to provide information regarding income, tax, and assets on the FAFSA application. As a parent, you must also obtain your own FSA ID to sign the financial aid form electronically.
The three most crucial section for a parent to fill out on the application is listed below:
- Dependency Status Questions
- Parent Demographics
- Financial Information
Parents will answer questions in the dependency status section to determine whether their child needs to include your information on the FAFSA form. Even f your child does not live with you, it’s still vital for you to do this.
As a dependent student, your child will need to provide information about you. However, your child can skip the questions about providing parental information if they are an independent student.
Next, you will enter your own demographic information under the “Parent Demographics” section. The questions will relate to your marital status or military status.
The last step involves you providing your financial information. You can simply use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import your previous tax return information. After you provide your information, you will also have to include your child’s tax return. So, don’t forget to do this step.
Remember your child’s eligibility for financial aid weighs heavily on your income. Don’t forget to turn in any papers you are asked to submit and provide all of the information you need.
You don’t want to risk delaying your child’s enrollment in college due to a simple mistake. If you need help during the process of filling out the FASFA application, make sure to seek for support.
11 It’s Important for You to Understand the Difference Between Loans and Grants
Don’t commit the costly mistake of accepting student loans when you do not need them. Often when students receive financial aid, they’ll use the loans to help cover personal expenses.
It is important to remember that loans must be repaid, and grants do not. The majority of your college costs can be covered by grants during your first few years, especially when you attend community college. Most likely, you won’t need student loans until you start studying for your core courses.
Did These 11 FASFA Facts Help Ready You for the Application Process?
You can now file for the FASFA application for the 2022-2023 school year. Remember, even if you believe you do not qualify for finical assistance, you should still fill the application out. You never know want kind of FASFA benefits awaits you!
We hope the FASFA facts help you better understand what to expect during the application process. The college preparation can be stressful, so we are here to help guide you!
You will find CollegeBudget’s blog beneficial for preparing for college. Come read our next post here.