Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – Apply for Financial Aid

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You may be eligible to apply for FAFSA by filling out the FAFSA form. If you don’t know what FAFSA means, don’t worry this post will take you through everything you need to know about FAFSA.

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - Apply for Financial Aid

Are you ready to further your education despite your financial challenges; I have good news for you. Education is one of the major tools that can make you stand out among your peers today in society. However, if you or your family has experienced financial difficulty due to COVID-19, or you are from a low-income family, or a family member has lost a job or claimed unemployment benefits.

What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid; an application form for Federal aid used by most colleges, universities, and other career schools for students wishing to further their higher education as a result of financial stagnancy. FAFSA opens on October 1 every year and applicants should apply for the FAFSA early especially as soon as it opens to meet FAFSA deadlines. This gives them the chance of getting the money for school on time. You can fill out the FAFSA form as a student, or as a parent for a student, or as a preparer who wants to help a student.  

When you complete the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, your college or career school and the U.S. Department of Education will send you a financial aid offer after analyzing your financial aid.  The financial aid offer comes in different forms which include loans, grants and work-study positions. The Application is free but it comes with deadlines which vary from state to state and the school year you will need financial aid. You can check the official website to apply and fill out the form and also check for the application deadline to avoid missing it. Let’s quickly dive into some required steps you must take if you are eligible to apply for the FAFSA form.

  • Start by completing the FAFSA questions as instructed (this includes the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, if eligible).
  • Submit your FAFSA form
  • Contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend to discuss how your financial situation has changed. This is because the Financial Aid offices can adjust your financial award to reflect your family’s current income.

With the above steps, you are one step closer to getting your Federal Student Aid.

How to be Eligible to Receive Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

To become eligible for this financial aid program, you must meet the following requirements.

  • Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Must have enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working towards a degree or certificate in an eligible program at a school or career school that participates in the Federal Student aid programs.
  • Make sure you do not have any criminal case or drug conviction charge for an offense that occurred while you were receiving Federal Student aid.
  • You must sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form stating that
    • you are not in default on a federal student loan
    • you do not owe money on a federal student grant, and
    • you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
  • Applicant must have a valid Social Security Number (unless you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau).

More On How To Become Eligible

  • Register with Selective Service if you are a male and 18 to 25 years of age. Go to the Selective Service System website for more information
  • You must show you’re eligible to obtain a college or career school education by
    • having a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate;
    • completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law; or
    • Enrolling in an eligible career pathway program and meeting one of the “ability-to-benefit” alternatives.
  • Other requirements may apply. Contact your school’s financial aid office for more information

Keep in mind that other types of federal student aid such as the Federal Pell Grant or subsidized loans where government pays the interest while you are already in college may require you to have financial need. If you have a bachelor’s degree or a first professional degree, you are not eligible for Federal Pell Grants or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

How Does Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Work?

You need to know how financial aid works as a student so that you can learn the resources required to know how to pay for college, and other loan repayment options. There are five (5) steps you have to know when you want to attend college or career school with your financial aid.

  • Start Planning Early
  • Fill Out the FAFSA form
  • Review your Aid Offer
  • Get your Aid
  • Graduate and start Repayment

Start Planning Early:

Applicants should endeavor to plan how to start their application process early and also meet deadlines. During the planning phase, you must plan how to start saving and making plans on how to pay for college before you start, meet and ask school counselors and the college financial aid office about the state, college, and nonprofit grants and scholarships you can apply for. More importantly, consider making plans for your prepaid tuition and education savings (529) plans.  

Fill Out the FAFSA form:

you will have to apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form before each college year. Your college will use your FAFSA data to determine the eligibility status of your Federal Aid. The FAFSA data is used by many states and colleges to award their aid. You will receive your student Aid report after submission.

Review your Aid Offer:

After acceptance by multiple colleges, compare the cost and aid offers. This is because your aid offer tells you the types and amount of aid a college is offering you. Check for the best school and accept their Aid offer and then inform them of other sources of aid such as scholarships and other benefits you expect to receive.

Get Your Aid:

Getting your aid is easy but it will have to come through your Financial Aid office. Your Financial Aid office will apply your aid to the amount you owe your school and then send you the remaining balance to spend on other college costs. One of the major requirements to staying eligible for Financial Aid is that you must make satisfactory academic progress. And always renew your FAFSA form every year.   

Graduate and Start Repayment:

As you prepare to graduate from college, you have to prepare your mind and get ready to pay back your student loans. The Good news is that you have a six-month grace to pay back your Federal student loan. This grace period is the best time for you to organize and choose a repayment plan. However, if you are not able to meet your repayment plans, you can contact your loan servicer to discuss your repayment options.

Types of Federal Student Aid

There are different types of financial aid. These can come from federal, state, school, and other private sources that help you pay for college or career school. Below are the types of Federal student aids you can enjoy.

Grants  

This is a free form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid except for instances where you withdraw from school and owe a refund, or you receive a TEACH Grant and don’t complete your service obligation. There are various kinds of federal grants you can apply for and get. These include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.   

Scholarship

As a student, you can also apply for Scholarships from many nonprofit and private organizations to help you pay your college or career school fees and other college expenses. This is regarded as “free money” but it is sometimes based on a particular area of study, talent, or academic merit, which can help you manage your education expenses that can bring huge difference to your life.

Loans

This is known as a student loan issued to students to pay for education expenses when they want to attend a college or career school. When you receive this student loan, you are borrowing money to sort your academic expenses and you must repay the loan plus the interest that accrues. You must ensure to understand your repayment options so you can successfully repay your loan.

Financial Aid for International Study

Federal Student is also available for students studying outside the United States, studying abroad or getting a degree from an international school.

Work-Study Jobs

The Federal Work-study program allows you to work part-time so that you can earn money to pay for your school.

Financial Aid for Military Families

This is a special financial aid for those serving in the military or if you are a child of a veteran or spouse, then you are eligible for this special aid program. 

How to Apply for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – FAFSA® Application

There are six (6) important steps you must follow when applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The Financial aid application processes are as follows.

  • Get Prepared – by getting ready you will have to gather and arrange all the documents you will need for the application.
  • Complete the FAFSA form – apply early to complete your form to get your aid faster.
  • Review Student Aid Report – after you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You will get a Student Aid Report (SAR) that summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA form, enabling you to make corrections if necessary. This may be an electronic or paper document.  
  • Respond to Aid Offer – once you have been given a financial aid offer from your college, kindly accept the aid you want but make sure to accept the financial aid funds you don’t have to pay back. In other words, look carefully at your options and make important decisions. You can accept financial aid by accepting free money first, earner money second, and borrowing money lastly.
  •  Receive Aid – when you receive your financial aid, keep in mind that the type of aid you accepted affects when you will get your aid and how you will receive your financial aid. You can further receive your financial aid by contacting your financial aid office to find out when you will receive your aid.
  • Renew Your FAFSA form – reapply every year to continue enjoying your financial aid.

How to Fill Out the FAFSA Form – Complete the FAFSA Form

One of the ways to apply for FAFSA is by completing the FAFSA form. You can get the FAFSA form on the myStudentAid app that is available on App Store and Google play store for iOS and Android respectively. Keep in mind that the FAFSA from will ask you for financial information which include information from tax forms and balances of savings and checking accounts. The 2022–23 FAFSA form asks for 2020 tax information while the 2021–22 FAFSA form asks for 2019 tax information. The IRS DRT automatically transfers tax information into the FAFSA form. The below step will guide you on what to do.

Step 1: the first step is to watch the video below. The video will walk you through the process of completing and submitting a FAFSA form and what is likely to happen after the form is submitted.  

Step 2: Use the FAFSA process graphic – https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/fafsa-process.png to walk you through the process of preparing for, completing, and submitting a FAFSA form. This includes information on what happens after the form is submitted.

For more info on how to fill out your FAFSA form, follow this fafsa.gov link.  

How to Create FSA ID

You need to create an FSA ID so that you can sign in your FAFSA form electronically. The FSA ID includes your Username and password combination. Your FSA ID can also be used to access your myStudentAid app, sign loan contracts, access certain information online. Sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN), apply for repayment plans, and serve as the Public Service loan forgiveness help tool. More importantly, you can fill out and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online. To get you ahead of time and on the myStudentAid mobile app to avoid errors and delays.

Quick Tips:

If you’re a dependent student, one of your parents whose information is reported on the FAFSA form will also need an FSA ID so that he or she can sign your application electronically. If your parent doesn’t have a Social Security number (SSN), your parent won’t be able to create an FSA ID (which requires an SSN). This means you’ll have to select the option to print a signature page when you get to the end of your FAFSA form on fafsa.gov (this option isn’t available in the myStudentAid app).

However, do not create an account on behalf of someone else. This means, parents should not create accounts for their children and vice versa. Doing this may result in issues signing and submitting the FAFSA form and could delay financial aid. In other words, create your own social security number and contact info. Keep in mind that to create your FSA ID to start your FAFSA form you will need to enter your name and Social Security number exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. Below are the required steps to creating your FSA ID.

Required steps to creating your FSA ID

  • Go to www.studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch in the web browser of your device.
  • Next, scroll down and click on the blue “Get Started”.
  • On the next page, the FSA ID account creation page appears.
  • Enter your first name, middle initial, last name, date of birth, and social security number.
  • Then, click on “Continue”.
  • Next, create a Username, and email address, confirm your email address, create a password, and confirm the password. Kindly use a non-school-based email address so that you can use the account after school for other purposes.  
  • Then, click on “Continue”.
  • On the next page, enter your permanent address, city, state, zip code, and phone number.
  • Check the box below to indicate if you want to use your mobile phone for account recovery.
  • Click on “Continue”.
  • Next, choose your Required Communication preferences from either “By email Recommended” or “By Postal mail”.
  • Then, select your preferred language.
  • Then, click on “Continue”.
  • On the next page, you will be asked to select four (4) challenge questions and provide answers to them. Kindly know these questions and answers for future purposes.
  • Next, confirm and verify your information for any correction.
  • Scroll down and agree to the Federal Student Aid’s terms and conditions by checking the box.
  • Then, click on the blue “Continue” button.
  • Then, verify your mobile phone number and email address via the 6-digit verification code sent to your phone number and email address.
  • Finally, click on “Finish”.

Congratulations, you have created your FSA ID has been created. You can get your confirmation email from your email address. You can also watch this video to learn how to create your FSA ID

Now that you have created your FSA ID, you can now login to your FAFSA form anytime and anywhere as a student, and parent with your FSA login credentials.

Documents You Need to Fill your FAFSA Application Form

When you want to fill out your form, the FAFSA questions ask for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. This depends on your circumstances (for example, whether you’re a U.S. citizen or what tax form you used). However, you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA application:

  • Your Social Security number (you must enter it correctly on the FAFSA form!)
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
    • IRS 1040
    • Foreign tax return or IRS 1040NR
    • Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate (but not including the home in which you live); and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

Different Methods to File a FAFSA form

The various methods below give you access to fill out your FAFSA form.

  • You can login at fasfa.gov website – www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa to apply online.
  • You can make use of the myStudentAid mobile app to fill out the form. The mobile app is available on App Store and Google play store for iOS and Android respectively. Keep in mind that you cannot fill out the FAFSA form on the mobile app without an FSA ID.
  • Another method is to complete a 2022-23 FAFSA PDF (please note that you must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing)
  • You can request a print-out of the FAFSA PDF by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243); then fill out the form and mail it for processing.

Who Can fill out the FAFSA Form?

Three people can fill out the FAFSA form, which includes the following.

  • A student
  • A parent and;
  • A Preparer

To fill out the form as a Student

  • Go to www.studentaid.gov/fafsa-app/ROLES in the web browser of your device.
  • On the next page, three layers will appear; click on “I am a student and want to access the FAFSA form”.
  • On this page, you can either access the FAFSA form by clicking on “use personal identifiers” or scroll down to click on “I am from a freely associated state” – this is for the Marshall Islands, federated states of Micronesia, and Palau.
  • If you are using the Personal identifiers, you will have to enter your personal information which includes your first name, full last name, date of birth, and your Social Security number.
  • Click on “Continue”.
  • On the next page, follow the prompt and access the FAFSA form.

To fill out the form as a Parent

Your parent can also help you to complete your FAFSA form particularly when you are not together. This is something known as the Save Key. The Save Key is a short, temporary password you can give someone when it is time for them to work on your FAFSA.

  • Go to https://studentaid.gov/fafsa-app/ROLES in the web browser of your device.
  • On the next page, three layers will appear; click on “I am a parent filling out a FAFSA form for a student”.
  • On this page, you will be asked to enter the student’s identifiers.  
  • Next, enter the student’s first name, the student’s full last name, the student’s date of birth, and the student’s Social Security number.
  • Click on “Continue”.
  • On the next page, the student’s parent will be prompted to create a Save Key. Make a note of it.
  • Whenever the parent is done with their part, they will be asked to save the FAFSA and close out of it.
  • Then, the parents should give their child or whoever starts the Save Key. Then that student can use the Save Key to get into the partially completed FAFSA and do his or her part. A parent can get in by entering their (the student’s) identifiers on the right side of the “Login” screen and never need to use their FSA ID.
  • Every parent must be sure to click Submit My FAFSA Now at the bottom of the “Signature Status” page. You are not done until you see the “Confirmation” page, which you should read and save for your records. 

If you have another child in school, there is a link on the “Confirmation” page to start a new FAFSA for that child, allowing your parent to transfer much of their information and save time.

To fill the form as a Preparer

  •  Go to www.studentaid.gov in the web browser of your device.
  • On the next page, three layers will appear; click on “I am a parent filling out a FAFSA form for a student”.
  • On this page, you will be asked to enter the student’s identifiers
  • Next, enter the student’s first name, the student’s full last name, the student’s date of birth, and the student’s Social Security number.
  • Click on “Continue”.
  • On the next page, follow the prompt and access your FAFSA form.

How to Get Help to Fill out the FAFSA Form

If you are lost when filling out the form and you need help, you can use the free tools below.

  • Choose the white question mark icon next to a FAFSA question to view a “tool tip” that offers you information about how to answer the question asked.
  • You can visit the “FAFSA help” page available in the online form, where you can see likely trending topics and issues.
  • You can also browse the FAFSA FAQs and also search for more information.
  • You can also select the “Contact Us” page where you have the option of emailing them with your question during business or working hours, you can also chat in (English or Spanish) with live technical support staff. For the myStudentAid mobile app, you can find the contact information via the “hamburger menu”button – the three horizontal parallel lines in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • Finally, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center office at the college or career school you plan to attend.

How to check the Status of your FAFSA® Application

To check the status of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, you will have to go through the official website or on the myStudentAid mobile app. Now that you have filled and submitted your FAFSA form online, it is important for you to take required steps which include accepting and getting your aid. Keep in mind that it is only the student that can check the status with their FSA ID username and password to login.  Kindly follow the steps below to do that.

  • Go to the fasfa.gov login page – www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa in the web browser of your device or launch the myStudentAid mobile app and enter your details.
  • Next, click on the “Log In” button at top center of the homepage under “Returning User”.
  • On the next page, click on the “I am a student and want to access the FAFSA form”.
  • A drop-down will appear, click on the “Log In to Continue” button.
  • On the login page, enter your “FSA ID Username,” “email” or “mobile phone number.”
  • Enter your “Password”.
  • Then, click on “Log In”.
  • Once you have logged in, you will have to confirm some information before being redirected back to your FAFSA form where you can now check your status.

You can also watch this video to know what’s next after submitting your application. 

Below are lists of the status of your application

  • Processing: Your application is still processing. It typically takes three to five days, plus one additional business day to be made available to the schools you listed on the form.
  • Processed Successfully: Your application was processed successfully. No further action is needed.
  • Missing Signatures: Your application is missing the required signature(s).
  • Action Required: Your app

Keep in mind that you can check the status of your application if you have submitted a paper FAFSA form, after it has been processed (roughly seven to ten days from the date mailed).

You can also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to find out if your FAFSA application process is complete.

How to Review and Correct Your FAFSA® Application

You can either correct your mistakes or make updates to your FAFSA form online or on paper.

How to Correct Mistakes on Your FAFSA Form

If you want to change some information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, after you must have submitted your application. You can either make corrections if you filed a FAFSA form using an Incorrect Social Security Number (SSN) or you want to make changes to your FAFSA form.

To make corrections if you file a FAFSA Form using an Incorrect Social Security Number

If you mistakenly filled a FAFSA form using an incorrect SSN, you can correct by using one of the following methods.

  • Recommended Method: you can submit a new online FAFSA form. In many cases, this is the easiest and fastest method. Keep in mind that when you submit a new FAFSA form, the date your FAFSA form was submitted and processed will change. However, be sure to check your state or school deadlines; because your FAFSA submission date must meet those deadlines to enable you qualify for a financial aid award from the state or school.
  • You can also ask the financial aid office at one of the schools listed on your Student Aid Report (SAR) to change your SSN for you.
  • Least Efficient Method: you can change your SSN on your paper SAR. All you need to do is for you to sign it, and mail it to the address provided on the SAR. This can take two to three weeks to process. Please note: SSN can’t be changed through the paper SAR more than once.

How to Make Changes to Your FAFSA® Form

You can make changes to your FAFSA application form by following the steps below.

1.  Go to the fafsa.gov website – www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa in the web browser of your device.

  • Next, click on the “log In” button and enter your FSA ID.
  • On the “My FAFSA” page, select “Edit FAFSA Form.”
  • Create a save key.
  • Change your information
  • Submit your new information.

2.  Write in the corrections or updates on your paper SAR, sign it, and mail it to the address provided on the SAR.

3.   Check with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend; the school might be able to make changes for you electronically.

How to Make Updates to Your FAFSA Form

You can make updates to your FAFSA form in two ways which include;

  • If your Situation has Changed
  • If you want to make changes to Federal School codes either to add or delete a school

If your Situation has Changed

As a matter of facts, most information cannot be updated because it must be accurate as of the day you originally signed your FAFSA form. Take for instance, if you spent some of your savings after filing the FAFSA form, you may not be able to show a change in the amount. To check if you can make any change, you can visit and speak to the financial aid office at the school to attend if there will be a significant change in your or your parent’s income for the present year or if your family has other circumstances that cannot be reported on the FAFSA form.

There are certain items that you must update:

  • You must update anything that changes your dependency status (for instance, you are now pregnant or are now in legal guardianship) except a change in your marital status. If your marital status changes, you must speak to the financial aid office to determine whether you may update the FAFSA form.
  • If (and only if) you are selected for FAFSA verification, you must update your FAFSA form if there is a change in the number of family members in your parents’ household or in your household. If the number of family members changes as a result of a change in your (the student’s) marital status, you must speak to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend to determine whether you may update the FAFSA form.
  • If (and only if) you are selected for verification, you must update your FAFSA form if there is a change in the number of people in your parents’ household who are in college or the number of people in your household who are in college. If the number of people in college changes as a result of a change in your (the student’s) marital status, you must speak to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend to determine whether you may update the FAFSA form.

If you want to make changes to Federal School Codes either to Add or Delete a School

Perhaps you want to make your FAFSA information available to an additional school after filing the FAFSA form, you may add that school’s Federal School Code. If you don’t know a school’s Federal School Code, you can search for a school by selecting the state and entering the school’s name or city.

Once your FAFSA form is processed, you can add or delete a school on your FAFSA form by doing the following steps:

  • Go to the fafsa.gov website -www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa in the web browser of your device.
  • Next, click on the “log In” button and FSA ID.
  • Select your role.
  • On the “My FAFSA®” page, select “Update Schools” and then select “Continue.”
  • Create a save key.
  • Change your information.
  • Submit your information.

Please Note: No more than 10 schools may be listed on your FAFSA form at one time. (The FAFSA PDF has space for only four schools, while the online FAFSA form and the myStudentAid mobile app allow 10 to be listed.) If you add an eleventh school, you’ll need to remove one of the ten schools already listed on your FAFSA form. You may choose which school to replace with the new school. The school removed from the list will not have automatic access to any new information you provide after you’ve removed that school.

How to Renew Your FAFSA® Application – FAFSA Renewal

As a student who have benefitted from the financial aid and you want to renew your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can either renew on the official website or on the myStudentAid mobile app but you must make sure you eligible for renewal.

To Renew on the FAFSA website

  • Go to fafsa.gov website – www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa in the web browser of your device.
  • Next, click on the “Log In” button under “Returning User”.
  • On the next page, the “Welcome to the FAFSA form” page will appear.
  • Click on the “I am a student and want to access the FAFSA form”.
  • Then, click on the blue “Log In to Continue” button. 
  • The FAFSA login page will appear, enter your “FSA ID Username,” “email” or “mobile phone number.”
  • Enter your “Password”.
  • Then, click on “Log In”.
  • Once you have logged in, you will have to confirm some information before being redirected back to your FAFSA form.
  • Once you have confirmed the prefilled information from the prior academic year.
  • Enter your new income and tax information.
  • Then, click on “update” to update any information that may have changed.
  • Then, sign and submit the FAFSA renewal. 

To Renew on the myStudentAid Mobile App

  • Launch and open the myStudentAid App from the home screen of your mobile phone.
  • Next, login as a student with your credentials. Keep in mind that the renewal form automatically displays if you are eligible for a FAFSA renewal.
  • Then, update any prefilled information that has changed, and provide the requested financial information which include your new income and tax information.
  • Finally, sign and submit the FAFSA renewal. 

For more information, kindly visit the FAFSA official website – www.studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.

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