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What Is FAFSA and Do I Qualify?

This is the time of year when we talk about is FAFSA.

Have you heard of it? If you’re applying to college, you should know about it.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that can be prepared annually by both current and prospective college students in the United States. This form is mainly used to determine a student’s eligibility for student financial aid. (source)

Federal Student Aid, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. They provide more than $120 billion in federal student aid each year to help pay for college or other career school(s).

Check out this video and be taken through the basics of FAFSA.


Who is Eligible?

Almost every student can qualify for some form of student aid. You may think that even if your family income is high that you would not have a chance for a scholarship. While this is maybe true of need-based scholarships, you may be eligible for performance based scholarships also known as merit-based scholarships and/or other loans (such as the Stafford Loan) !

Your eligibility for federal grants (grants do not have to be repaid) and loans (loans have to be repaid) is usually based on your financial need. Your need will be based on what information you submit on your FAFSA form.

Most colleges, state scholarship agencies and foundations will use the information on the FAFSA when they are choosing their scholarship recipients, as well as how much they may receive. This means, that even if your family’s income puts you out of reach for a need-based scholarship, it will still be worth completing the form. In fact, many colleges and universities, require the FAFSA to offer even merit-based scholarships.

Important: When you file a FAFSA form, it will automatically qualify you for low cost federal student loans of at least $5,500 a year.

A student who can meet all of the following criteria may be eligible for aid: (Source)
has registered with the Selective Service System (for Conscription in the United States) between the ages of 18 and 25, if required to do so (females are excluded from this requirement);[2][3]

maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP);[4][5]

is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen;

has a valid Social Security number;

has a high school diploma or GED;

sign the certification statement stating that: 1) not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and 2) federal student aid will only be used for educational purposes;

has not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs while federal aid was being received.[6]


Where Can You Find the FAFSA?

Most families will fill out their FAFSA online. This is the best option because it includes step-by-step instructions and it also contains pre-application worksheets that will help you through the process.

Filing your FAFSA online will offer several benefits like:

Receiving your Student Aid Report sooner than with paper forms.

Your FAFSA will be more accurate since there are online editing features within the application.

You will save on processing costs.

You are able to list up to 10 colleges, vs. 4 colleges allowed on the paper form.


How Can I Preview My Eligibility?

FinAid’s Financial Aid Estimation Form may be used to calculate your EFC and an estimate of your eligibility for financial aid. This may help you understand a bit about how the federal need analysis system works. You can also run “what-if” experiments to see how much aid you’ll get under various scenarios. FinAid also has a QuickEFC calculator that uses much fewer questions to yield a ballpark estimate of your EFC. (1)(2)

Where Do You Begin? How Cash4College Can Help.

Understandably, you may worry about the cost of a college education.  Many parents believe that their son or daughter will not qualify for a scholarship. However, that is not true.  The key is finding the right type of scholarship(s).  Some scholarships are given for academic achievement or athletic accomplishments; others are given because of volunteer work, ethnic or religious ties, etc… While most parents are worried about the potential debt, they can manage this challenge. A Cash4College counselor will provide parents all financial information to make good choices to identify institutional, college and foundation scholarships along with grants.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation !

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