What is FAFSA and Why Should I Care?

By CSU Global - June 18th, 2018

At Home

When faced with pressure related to employment, education, and personal issues, it’s no wonder that some students may find it challenging to maintain balance. Whether it’s due to unexpected vehicle maintenance or deciding to add another course to your workload, life can get expensive. Luckily, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, makes it easy to maximize your loan, grant, and scholarship opportunities and reduce the amount of money you’re spending out of pocket.

Now, more than ever before, students need financial aid if they wish to pursue higher education. Let’s take a look at what FAFSA is all about so that you can understand why it’s such an indispensable tool for students.

A Simple Explanation

FAFSA is a form that students complete online (or by downloading a PDF) to apply for federal government-sponsored financial aid. There are numerous assistance options available, many of which students aren’t aware of until they dive into the process of applying. FAFSA has helped millions of students over the years obtain the money necessary to continue and complete their education.

Different Types of Financial Aid

As mentioned, when you apply for aid through FAFSA, you’ll receive a list of different types of financial aid. These are typically in the form of grants, work-study funds (which are technically provided by schools, but are available only if you complete FAFSA), and low-interest loans. Additionally, completing FAFSA may be required to receive certain scholarships and state government aid.

You Can Accept More Than One Offer

There’s a good chance that you will qualify for more than one source of financial aid. You can accept or not accept the different types, depending on your needs. Start with scholarships, grants, and work-study aid first, since those don’t need to be paid back so long as you continue to meet funding requirements. Then, you can take out a loan (only for the amount you need — you don’t have to take the entire amount you qualified for), if needed.

Submissions Now Start Earlier

In the past, current and prospective students had to wait until Jan. 1 of each new year to apply for funding toward the following academic year. This would sometimes cause a sort of bottleneck as students rushed to apply soon after the end of holidays, the start of a new year, etc. Last year, this changed, allowing students to submit an application for aid starting in October of the previous year, thereby providing more time and more opportunities to maximize aid.

FAFSA Makes It Easier to Renew Your Application

FAFSA requires students to apply for aid each year. There are three reasons for this:

1) Your financial situation may have changed, so you may qualify for more aid.

2) Financial rules might have changed, potentially opening up more opportunities to provide aid.

3) New grants, work-study funds, and loans may have become available.

Most of the information you submit on the application will remain the same, but you will need to attach your most recent tax return, W-2s, and bank statements.

With the options and opportunities provided by FAFSA, earning your degree or going back to school is close within reach. If you’d like to learn more, visit their website or call 800-4-FED-AID (433-3243).

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