It’s that time of year again! The 2018-19 FAFSA form recently was released for application. Students and parents nationwide are poring over every line of the form. Of course, you’ll have questions, especially with how complex the form is. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to the FAFSA, answering some of the most FAQs about the FAFSA.
What is the FAFSA?
Let’s start with the basics. The acronym FAFSA stands for [the] Free Application For Student Aid. The FAFSA is a Department of Education office that’s often used as an umbrella term for all aid provided by the government. The form releases every year on October 1st, as opposed from the previous January 1st release date. To break it down, the 2018-19 FAFSA form was made available on 10/1/17, as opposed to 1/1/18, the latter being the date it would have been released under previous rules that existed until last year. Pushing up the release date allows families more time to explore all their options for aid. That doesn’t mean you should put off filing the FAFSA though. Start early so you can catch any deadlines and so you aren’t rushed to submit it. Making a mistake on the FAFSA could be costly to your college tuition aid.
Who is eligible for the FAFSA?
To apply for FAFSA aid, you have to meet all of the following criteria:
— Have a high school diploma/equivalence degree
— Are a US citizen
— You must register for selective service, a.k.a. the draft (men only)
— You have a valid social security number
Additionally, you’ll have to sign statements that assert you will:
— Not default on a loan or use the money provided for any other purpose
— Not have any drug charges or convictions while receiving FAFSA aid
— Maintain “satisfactory academic progress”
How do you file the FAFSA?
Once the form goes live, you can fill it out in three ways: by phone (call 1-800-433-3243), online (FAFSA.ed.gov), or on paper (print and use pen). If you choose the latter option, mail your completed form to:
- Federal Student Aid Programs
- P.O. Box 7650
- London, KY
What types of financial aid is available?
In general, there are many forms of aid. Typically, applicants get one of three loans or grants. The first is the Pell Grant, which is based on financial need and based on a DoE formula. The maximum amount awarded under a Pell Grant for the past award year was $5,920 per semester. The next possibility is a Stafford Loan, a fixed-interest direct subsidized or unsubsidized loan with an interest rate of 4.45%. The final type of aid usually awarded is admittance into the Federal Work Study Program. While these are the typical answers, aid doled out depends heavily on your personal status and financial filings.
These are only some of the FAQs about the FAFSA. Check out our other articles to learn more about FAFSA and financial aid in general.
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