Students planning to enroll in college for Fall 2021 should fill out the 2021-2022 school year FAFSA application. You can begin filing your FAFSA anytime after October 1st. The earlier you fill out this information, the better, because it helps ensure you receive the maximum amount of loan and grant money that you are eligible for. It is a good rule of thumb to complete your college applications in October or November, then start completing the FAFSA immediately thereafter. Please view the information below because it walks you through step by step regarding how to apply for financial aid. It also answers many of the frequently asked questions that people have. You will not have to fill this out in one sitting; you will be able to "save" it and return to it at your convenience. Here is also a good introductory video which is a nice starting point for parents to watch around the topic of financial aid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5rQX7Pbd94&feature=emb_logo
Steps for filling out your Financial Aid Application/FAFSA
- Here is the information you will need to fill out FAFSA: Student and parents/guardians' Social Security information, student's drivers license, W2 forms and your parents/guardians' federal tax return information, and bank/investment statements and any other records of untaxed income such as child support received or veteran's benefits, etc.
- Click the following link to set up an account and apply for Financial Aid: FAFSA Online Form As you are filling out the information, you have the option to click "save" and continue filling out the application later. I highly recommend using the following website since it is very helpful and walks you through the FAFSA process step-by-step: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out Another helpful website is https://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/financial-aid/articles/applying-financial-aid/how-fill-out-fafsa-step-step/
- Note important deadlines from your college/university for submitting your FAFSA paperwork. It's a good idea to try to complete your application as soon as possible after completing your college applications.
- A few weeks after completing your FAFSA you will receive a "Student Aid Report" (SAR). Review the SAR to make sure the information on there is correct. Re-submit the SAR if you see something incorrect on the form. The SAR tells you how much money you will be expected to contribute towards college costs. This is called your "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC). This number will determine your federal student aid eligibility.
- Review award letters from schools you included as part of your FAFSA application to compare amounts and types of aid being offered. This information may affect the school you decide on attending based on how affordable the school is when taking into account the aid they are offering. Contact the school's financial aid office if you have questions about the aid being offered.
Sources of Financial Aid
The vast majority of financial aid gets to students through the following sources:
- College Financial Aid Offices: Most of the financial aid that students receive is distributed through college financial aid offices after completion of the FAFSA application. Even if a family feels they will not qualify for financial-need-based aid, students should still complete the FAFSA since colleges usually want access to the FAFSA information to help them make decisions about merit-based aid.
- Local Scholarships: Local organizations, companies, and individuals in our community provide scholarships for our students. Students access this "Local Scholarship Application" on our school website under the "Counseling" tab. Generally the deadline to apply is around mid-March.
- Loans and Grants: Filling out the FAFSA will show you which loans and grants are available for you. Loans are money that can be borrowed but you will eventually have to pay back. Note that not all loans are created equal. For a subsidized loan, the government pays off the interest in the loan while you are still attending school. For an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for paying off the interest on the loan while you are attending school. If you don't pay off the interest, it gets added to the overall principal of the loan. Depending on your parents/guardians' financial status, you may be eligible for grants. Grants are funds that you will not have to pay back.
- Work-study: Colleges may offer work on Campus as a type of financial aid.
- Other Sources: Fastweb.com is the most commonly used website for students to search for scholarships offered all throughout the country. By setting up a profile, a student is able to use their search engine to find thousands of scholarship opportunities. Participation in the military, ROTC, AmeriCorps, and other programs can provide funds.