By Alexandra Zurborg,
What is the FAFSA? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It grants financial aid from the federal government to aid college payment. According to the College Board, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA receive more than $120 billion in grants. Lots of states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine which students get financial aid — and how much they’ll get.
The FAFSA is available Oct. 1 to June 30. To fill out your FAFSA, you need an account called the FSA ID. To create this ID, go to fsaid.ed.gov. This is a government form, so you do need your social security number, full name and birthday. To verify your account, you will need a cellphone number or an email. However, email tends to work better.
If you are dependent, your legal guardians will also have to create an FSA ID if they have a social security number. If your guardian is undocumented, enter “000-00-000” for their social security number; however, they can’t make a FSA ID and won’t be able to sign online. Therefore you must print out the signature page from FAFSA and have them sign it on paper. You will mail the signed page to:
Federal Student Aid Programs
P.O. Box 7656
London, KY 40742-7656
An important tip is to make sure you save or write down your FSA ID. You will be using it every year you go to college to fill out the FAFSA. The FSA ID will take about 1-3 days to be verified, so make sure you sign up as soon as possible.
Once you created your FSA ID, you should to fill out the FAFSA itself. You will need: investment statements or bank statements, social security or alien registration number, 2019 tax return (W-2 forms, untaxed income and any other forms to show how much you made) and your FSA ID. For this process, it’s best to have a guardian involved.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Well my family is wealthy enough, we can afford college.” That’s great! However, according to College Board:
- “Each year, millions — sometimes billions — of dollars in federal aid is left on the table by students who didn’t file a FAFSA. It’s simple: If you don’t file, you won’t qualify for most financial aid.
- Your family doesn’t have to have a low income to qualify for assistance. Even if your family makes $200,000 a year, you could be eligible for aid.
- You automatically qualify for a low-interest federal loan when you submit a FAFSA. These loans are less expensive to pay back than many private student loans.
- Many work-study programs require the FAFSA.
- Some merit-based scholarships require the FAFSA to help them determine scholarship amounts.”
Financial aid is usually a first come, first served basis, so try and submit an application as soon as possible. College is already expensive, but the FAFSA is here to aid your financial needs.