When you start researching your financial aid options for college, one term you’ll come across a lot is ‘FAFSA’. So, what does the FAFSA stand for? FAFSA is an abbreviation for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is an application you need to submit to determine your eligibility for all federal financial aid programs. It is administered by Federal Student Aid, which is an office of the U.S. Department of Education.
What Does the FAFSA Stand For? Important Things to Know
- Every student applying to college MUST file the FAFSA, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances. Only students who file this form are eligible to receive any type of financial aid.
- The FAFSA is your gateway to qualify for federal student loans, grants, federal work-study opportunities. It also qualifies you for various types of institutional aid.
- You need to file the FAFSA every academic year to receive financial aid for that particular year.
- You can find and submit the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.
- Only students enrolled at accredited institutions in the US qualify for federal student loans.
- You must make sure that all the details you provide are correct. Incorrect information will affect your eligibility for financial aid.
How to File the FAFSA
To initiate the process, you first need to create a new FSA ID. This is a username and password that serves as your legal electronic signature. You need this to access the Federal Student Aid’s online system and fill in the FAFSA application. Make sure you also save your FSA ID details. You’ll need them to log in and to keep track of your application throughout the process.
Filling in the FAFSA can be complicated. It requires you to submit your personal information in addition to detailed information about your family’s finances.
Keep these details handy before you start filling in the FAFSA:
- Personal details – Social Security number, and postal and email addresses
- Academic details – Name of your high school, the year you passed out, colleges you are applying to
- Family’s financial details – Income statements, tax records, expense records, and debt records
What Happens After You Submit the FAFSA?
About 3 to 5 days after you submit the FAFSA electronically, you will receive your Student Aid Report or SAR. This document summarizes the details you filled on the FAFSA. It also includes basic information about your financial aid eligibility.
If you submitted your FAFSA via traditional mail, it may take about two weeks for you to receive your SAR.
It’s important to review your SAR to ensure that it is complete and all details are 100% correct. If you spot any inaccuracies, you will need to correct your FAFSA form. You can do this by logging into the Federal Student Aid site using your FSA ID. If no changes are needed, you don’t need to do anything. Keep the SAR for your records though.
You don’t need to submit the FAFSA or SAR to any colleges you are applying to. All the schools listed on your FAFSA form will receive a copy of your SAR directly.