Help with College

How Does the FAFSA Work?

Overview ๐Ÿ‘“

Welcome ๐Ÿ™Œ Today weโ€™re going to be giving you a quick introduction to what the FAFSA is, as well as going into depth on how it works. So buckle up ๐Ÿš—, and letโ€™s get started!

Loans vs. Grants

First order of business: What are loans and what are grants ๐Ÿค” Both of these give you money to pay for college.

Based on financial need (not your academic ability!), you will be GIFTED a grant. That means you donโ€™t have to pay it back; that money is yours ๐Ÿค—

On the other hand, for a loan, you need to pay it back by the deadline ๐Ÿ“† your lender set. Hereโ€™s where the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, comes in. Federal student loans are given by the government, while private student loans are given by banks or credit unions (non-government).

Read more about college debt and how much is too much with this article.

How Does FAFSA Work? ๐Ÿง

Quick Introduction ๐Ÿ‘‹

Okay, so we know you need to fill out the FAFSA for federal student loans. The FAFSA is a form that you fill out ๐Ÿ“ with your financial background. It will determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or an estimate for how much you and your family will be able to pay for your education ๐Ÿซ, and then determine how much aid youโ€™ll receive.

According to the US Department of Education, 13 million students fill out the FAFSA each year and receive ๐Ÿคฒ $120 billion in aid!

For more details check out exactly what FAFSA is and how it can help you.


Filling Out the FAFSA โœ’๏ธ

The FAFSA is available on October 1, but you should fill it out ASAP because aid is first-come, first-serve โ˜๏ธ The deadline is June 30, so be sure youโ€™re keeping an eye ๐Ÿ‘€ on important dates.

Checkout this scholarship and FAFSA tracker to help you stay on top of everything!

You HAVE to fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for ANY financial aid! It is free to fill out for all students ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Each academic year you want to receive aid, you MUST fill out the FAFSA. So, if you want to receive FAFSA for each year of college, you must fill it out before each year.

โ€Image from Road2College

Should I Fill the FAFSA Out? โœ…

Yes! EVERY student going to college should fill out the FAFSA. If you donโ€™t, you wonโ€™t ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™€๏ธ be eligible for a lot of student aid. Even if your family isnโ€™t low income, you could still be qualified to receive aid, such as automatically being eligible for a low-interest federal loan ๐Ÿ“‹ by submitting the FAFSA.

Check out the FAFSAโ€™s basic eligibility requirements to qualify for student aid.

To learn more about the application process and how to fill it out checkout How to Apply to FAFSA.

How Much Aid Will I Receive from FAFSA? ๐Ÿ’ธ

As mentioned before, you should fill out the FAFSA ASAP. Since aid is given by first come, first serve, students who submit it early have a better chance of receiving more money ๐Ÿ’ฐ

According to Edmit, 4 factors determine how much aid youโ€™ll receive:

  1. Your year ๐Ÿ“… in school
  2. Your enrollment status (full-time vs. part-time)
  1. Full-time enrollment - You enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester
  2. Part-time enrollment - Youโ€™ enrolled in at least 6 credits per semester
  1. Cost of Attendance - How much itโ€™ll cost to attend a certain college for a year, including tuition, textbooks ๐Ÿ“š, dorms, etc.
  2. Expected Family Contribution - How much your family can pay for your education each year

What Kind of Aid Will I Receive? ๐ŸŽฏ

Since you already know the difference between loans and grants, letโ€™s talk about what kind of aid you can get from the FAFSA.

  • Grants - Completely need-based + donโ€™t need to be paid back
  • Scholarships - Merit-based (based on your academic performance) + donโ€™t need to be paid back
  • Make sure to do your own college scholarship search as well to help.
  • Check out these top 40 national college scholarships.
  • Loans - Need to be paid back with interest
  • Work-study programs - Pay back loans by working a part-time job ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“ at your college campus

Whatโ€™s Next? ๐Ÿš€

Alright, youโ€™ve completed your FAFSA form on time. You will receive your Student Aid Report, a document ๐Ÿ“„ that summarizes all the information you entered on the FAFSA. You should also let the colleges youโ€™re applying to know that you want financial aid; be sure to fill out any extra school-related documents ๐Ÿ“ฅ

You will receive a letter ๐Ÿ“ƒ in a few months after submission, so make sure you apply or deny the aid before the deadline.

Checkout this article to learn more about financial aid and paying for college.

Final Thoughts on FAFSA โœŒ๏ธ

Hooray! Youโ€™ve made it to the end of this article ๐Ÿ‘ You should better understand what FAFSA is, how to fill out the forms, and what kind of aid youโ€™ll receive ๐Ÿค

Good luck on your college journey, and be sure to check out more articles from Fiveable for additional resources ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™€๏ธ


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