What is the FAFSA and how does it work? (2023)

If you want help paying for college, it all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, akaFAFSA🇧🇷 College and university financial aid offices—from community colleges to Ivy League institutions—use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid, including student loans, grants, scholarships, and federal work-study programs. A completed FAFSA form forms the basis of the student's Financial Assistance Package and is used to determine the expected family contribution and need-based support at a specific school.

Even if you think you're making a lot of money with financial assistance, you should still take the time to fill out the FAFSA. Only according to a Discover Loans survey45% of parents completed the FAFSA- although 74% of the same group were concerned about having enough money to help their students pay for college.

Don't assume you don't qualify when it comes to federal financial aid and school financial aid availability. Start with the FAFSA (and, if your future school requires it, theCSS-Profil) and see what financial assistance packages are being offered to you.

"You have nothing to lose by signing up, just fill in the forms," ​​he says.David Sheridan of Columbia University🇧🇷 "There's a very real possibility that if you think you don't qualify for anything and don't bother applying, you're missing out on something you could have achieved."

Do you need more reasons to fill it out? Read this.

Where can I get a FAFSA form?

You can find the FAFSA atfafsa.ed.gov🇧🇷 The form must be completed online at the official FAFSA website maintained by the US Department of Education and can be completed and submitted free of charge at any time. If you find yourself on a copycat site or a site that offers help filling out and filling out the FAFSA for a fee, stay away!

Need help filling it out? There are many (free) guides and information on Edmit and on the FAFSA website.

(Video) What is the FAFSA and How Does it Work

Who should use the FAFSA

Even if you think you are making a lot of money with financial assistance, you should still file the FAFSA. Don't assume you don't qualify when it comes to federal financial aid and school financial aid availability.

The FAFSA considers many factors when determining a student's financial needs - more than just income and wealth. So even if your household income is $250,000 and you have over $1 million in assets, apply anyway! you can still beright to financial support🇧🇷 I hope you know thembasic admission requirements(Abitur or equivalent, satisfactory academic progress, etc.) You must apply for federal financial assistance through the BAFSA.

Observe thatPhD studentsare also eligible for the FAFSA, although Edmit only focuses on student enrollment.

What documents do I need to file the FAFSA?

FAFSA collects personal and financial information fromdependent studentsand their parents, who forward this information to the schools to which the student has applied.

First step: sign up for aFSA-IDon the website of the Federal Union of Students. This ID allows you to apply for federal grants, serves as a legal signature, and facilitates later additions or changes to your application. Parents and students must apply for their own FSA badge.Learn more here.

You will also need the federal school regulations for each school you want to apply to. Use theFederal School Code Lookup Toolto find the code of any school.

Once all the necessary FSA IDs have been generated and the Federal School Codes found, have the following information ready to complete the FAFSA without any problems:

personal data

  • Student Social Security Number
  • Parents' social security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Student driver's license number, if applicable
  • Foreign student registration number, if not a US citizen

financial information

  • Federal tax information (via W2 information or tax returns) for the student, the student's spouse, and the student's parents, if applicable
  • Untaxed income records, such asPension scheme payments
  • Other financial investments, such as savings accounts or investments

For more details on the documents required to complete the FAFSA, visitVisit the FAFSA website.

(Video) FAFSA Overview

Completing the FAFSA

Once you've gathered the necessary information, you can start filling out the FAFSA. Go to the FAFSA website and login with your FSA ID before launching the application.

You first enter the student's personal information, such as: For example, social security number and citizenship status before being asked a series of questions to determine the student's dependency status (most students are listed as dependents).

The next section asks for information about the parents. They provide personal information as well as financial information such as income, assets and tax forms. For the 2020-21 FAFSA Form, enter your 2018 tax year information. You can even use the included IRS data retrieval tool, which can automatically import past tax returns into the form.

The FAFSA should guide you through any questions you may have about who counts as a parent and how divorce, stepparent, and other cases should be filed. You can also get answers toFederal Student Aid website.

Finally, you must provide information about the student's (and the student's spouse, if applicable) finances. Many young people won't have much to report, especially since the FAFSA essentially looks at two years of tax records. However, it is important that you spend some time in this section and provide all the information requested.

You will also be asked to list all the schools you want to apply to. You must specify at least one, and you can specify up to 10 in the online application. In some states, the order in which you list schools is important if you expect to be considered for state aid. see which onesindicates that it applies here.

While this all sounds like a lot of work, you don't have to do it all at once. Spend some time getting all your forms together first, then sit back and launch the app. And if you can't finish everything in one session, you can save your progress and come back later.

When do I need to complete the FAFSA?

Prepare your calendar reminders! It is extremely important that you submit your FAFSA form by the financial assistance deadline.

While the state deadline for filing your FAFSA is midnight CST on June 30 of each year, state and university deadlines have their own requirements and deadlines for grant consideration. For national deadlines, seeFederal Student Aid Deadline Page, but you should check with the scholarship office for specific college deadlines.

However, regardless of the deadlines, it is recommended that the FAFSA be filed as soon as possible after it is cleared for filing on October 1 of each year. When it comes to filing with the FAFSA,Early applicants can get more money, says a 2015 Edvisors survey. The survey found that students who applied in the first three months received twice as much financial aid at their admitted schools as students who waited. If your financial circumstances change between registering with the FAFSA and enrolling in the school, contact your financial aid office to update your financial aid package.

For a given academic year, the US Department of Education allows students to submit FAFSA forms between October of the previous academic year and June of the current academic year, with the federal FAFSA deadline being the same month of June. For example, the FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year was made available October 1, 2019, with a federal deadline of midnight CST of June 30, 2020.

The information you provide is for what is known as the “prior year”, so when you complete this in October, you will have access to a full year of financial information. This means that, for a student going from high school to college, the fiscal year beginning in January of the sophomore year and ending in December of the freshman year is the first fiscal year "counted" for financial aid.

(Video) how to fill out the FAFSA and maximize aid (step-by-step guide)

Learn more about FAFSA deadlines.

How is financial support calculated?

It is important to fill out the FAFSA accurately and completely. The data collected in this funding application will help determine the needs-based funding that you are entitled to.

There are four factors that determine this help.

  • your school year
  • Your enrollment status (e.g. full-time or part-time)
  • Cost of Participation (COA)
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

It isparticipation costs(COA) is how much it will cost you to study at a certain college for one academic year. These include tuition,accommodation and catering, books, supplies, and other related expenses. Your COA varies from school to school.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated from the information you provide in the FAFSA. This is the amount of money the government believes your family could reasonably pay for one school year.

Your EFC deducted from a school's COA reflects the student's financial need. So if a school's COA is $15,000 and its EFC is $10,000, your financial need is $5,000 - and you may qualify for aid equal to that amount.

Financial need is the amount a student will need in financial aid to cover the costs of a particular school, according to the FAFSA. This number varies from college to college as the cost of attending each institution is different. This information becomes your schoolsindividually determine how much help you offer.

More about the EFC

The EFC value is calculated by looking at your family's income and net worth.

total earningsincludes student and parent income. If your parents are divorced or separated, or you are a student without parental custody,learn more here.

net worthinclude any investment, business or savings account. Be sure to check thequalified and unskilled assetsbefore filling out the form. Don't accidentally add non-essential assets to the app, or you may receive less help than you're entitled to.

Here is a detailed breakdown of which assets are counted in the FAFSA.

The EFC calculation also takes into account your family size and the number of family members already enrolled in school. In general, the EFC will be lower for low-income students with little wealth and higher for a rich, high net-income family.

worried you willhave a high EFC🇧🇷 And if yourEFC is more than you can afford?

(Video) 3 big FAFSA mistakes that will cost you a lot of money!

What types of assistance does the FAFSA offer?

A completed FAFSA form forms the basis of a student's financial assistance package and is used to determine the expected family contribution and financial assistance needs at a specific school. A variety of types of grants are available to students through the FAFSA process, including federal student loans, federal grants, scholarships, and federal work-study programs.

federal grants

There are manyScholarships available for students🇧🇷 This is free money, which means it doesn't have to be returned. Grants are primarily need-based and depend entirely on your FAFSA scores.


You can receive scholarships from your school. This is also free money that doesn't need to be returned. Often this money is merit-based, meaning you earned it for excellent grades, athletic performance, or other accomplishments. This money will likely also come with restrictions, so you may need to maintain satisfactory academic progress or certain grades to continue receiving the financial award. There are many opportunitiesaccess purse money.

extra occupational courses

Part of your financial aid package may includeextra-occupational study opportunities🇧🇷 This is money you'll likely have to pay if you're working part-time on campus. If you are eligible for work study, your school must reserve a place for you. Talk to your tax office or employment office for more information about their procedures.

federal student loans

There are differentLoans offered by the federal government(for example, subsidized and unsubsidized loans), all of which you must pay back with interest. Here it ishow to apply.

By the timeaccept your help, do so in the order shown in this section: money free from grants or scholarships, money earned, and money borrowed. If you don't need to borrow money, don't.

Again, their aid package comes directly from their schools. If you experience problems with the assistance being offered to you, contact the assistance office immediately. This also applies if you feel you have not received enough money to cover the costs of participation. For example, you canObjection to your financial aid package.

How long does it take to get FAFSA money?

You submitted the completed FAFSA form and received your good before the deadlinesscholarship report(SAR) confirms that all your information has been received. After submitting the FAFSA, you have informed the colleges you applied to that you want to be considered for financial aid and have completed any additional school-specific requirements and applications.

most schoolsSending scholarship letters to studentsalong with college acceptance letters or shortly thereafter, so there may be a delay of a few months between sending and receiving your letter of help. Once you get the help letter this is what you need to doAccept or decline offered helpbefore the end of the funding period.

(Video) College Explained: FAFSA

Would you like more information?

Keep in mind that the FAFSA must be submitted prior to any year the student wishes to enroll in college. If you have questions about the FAFSA process, read themFrom the FAFSA, talk to a grant administrator orlog in not Edmit🇧🇷 Lots of luck!


1. FAFSA Scholarship: Who It's For, How To Apply & More
(The Scholarship System)
2. Overview of the Financial Aid Process
(Federal Student Aid)
3. The FAFSA Opens up Tomorrow!
(Gohar Khan)
4. Why everyone should fill out a FAFSA form
(CBS Mornings)
5. What is the FAFSA and how does it work
(OnCampus College Planning)
6. What is the FAFSA and How Does it Work?
(Centsible Student)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated: 08/29/2023

Views: 6352

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.