|Is the FAFSA Required?
Q: Is the FAFSA application required?
A: Yes, the FAFSA is required IF you want to participate in federal and state financial aid programs.
The FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step in the financial aid process. You use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as grants, loans and work-study. In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid.
What If I do not complete the FAFSA?
If you do not complete the FAFSA, you may have other financial aid options. One option would be to consider private student loans.
Private student loans are offered by banks and some credit unions. These loans can usually cover some or all of your education costs, just like federal student loans.
However, unlike federal student loans, these loans normally come with variable interest rates that are determined by your credit history. In fact, most undergraduate students cannot qualify for a private student loan unless they apply with a qualified cosigner such as a parent.
All students are encouraged to consider federal financial aid before applying for a private student loan. Therefore, all students should complete the FAFSA when they need financial aid.
Why should I complete FAFSA?
The FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step in the financial aid process. You use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as grants, loans and work-study. In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid. You can complete the FAFSA entirely online at www.fafsa.ed.gov
Why are there so many questions on the FAFSA application?
The Department of Education enters your responses to the FAFSA questions into a formula. The result is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC measures the financial strength of your family. It is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Your state, and the schools you list, may also use some of your responses. They will determine if you may be eligible for school or state aid, in addition to federal aid.
How do I figure out what my EFC is?
The Department of Education will send you a report called a Student Aid Report, or SAR, through the mail or the Internet. The SAR lists the information you reported on your FAFSA, and will tell you your EFC. It is important to review your SAR when you receive it. Make sure all of your information is correct. Make any necessary changes or provide additional information.
How much financial aid can I get?
Your EFC, along with the rest of your FAFSA information, is made available to all the schools you list in Step Six of the FAFSA. The schools use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school cost of attendance (which can include living expenses), as determined by the school.
If you or your family has special circumstances that should be taken into account, contact your financial aid office. Some examples of special circumstances are: unusual medical or dental expenses, or a large change in income from last year to this year.
When do I receive my financial aid?
Any financial aid you are eligible to receive will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is paid to you for your other expenses.
If you are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, you may receive it for only one school for the same period of enrollment.
Where can I get more information about financial aid and the FAFSA?
The best place for information about student financial aid is the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. The financial aid administrator can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself and other sources.
You can also check out these resources:
The Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID
(1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913.
Your high school counselor office
Your local library reference section
There may be information available from foundations, religious organizations, community organizations and civic groups, as well as organizations related to your field of interest, such as the American Medical Association or American Bar Association. Check with your parent employer or unions to see if they award scholarships or have tuition payment plans.
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